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This course examines the processes through which individuals and groups publicly manage and settle their conflicts and disputes. These processes include negotiation and mediation (a focus of the course), as well as aviodance, arbitration, adjudication, and violence. We discuss the roles of communication and information in dispute settlement processes as well as how these processes transform our relationships and serve to educate us about ways to participate in (as well as create) society. We locate our discussions in real cases that are drawn from research, the media, and our own lives. An important starting point in the course is learning how to talk about disputes and develop a perspective that helps us understand the roles of interpersonal disputes in the development of our lives and identities. From this, and in a discussion of settlement processes, we move on to in-class practicing of these processes (such as in-class negotiations and practicing mediation). The range of disputes we consider is very broad, including those that occur among friends, in the family, course is and among co-workers. Finally, we consider how disputes are related to the development of political power-the differential effects of settlement processes on people of different identities and with unequal access to power.

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