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Public Policy Research Institute at the University of Montana – Graduate Program for Natural Resources Conflict Resolution

The Public Policy Research Institute at the University of Montana offers a graduate-level program to help students negotiate the governance of natural resources through dialogue and problem solving. The only program of its kind in the U.S., The Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program teaches students theories underlying collaboration, multiparty negotiation, consensus building, and deliberative dialogue as well as skills to prevent and resolve natural resources conflicts. www.cfc.umt.edu/grad/NRCRP.aspx

Students who complete the program will gain the following knowledge skills.

History of Conflict Resolution Strategies — Understand the history of alternative approaches to govern natural resources, engage citizens in public decisions, and resolve natural resource and environmental conflicts.

Assessment — Identify stakeholders and key issues; map the interests and concerns of stakeholders, including decision-makers; clarify options for citizen participation and public dispute resolution; determine if and when negotiation, collaboration, or consensus building is appropriate.  Understand the legal, institutional, political, cultural, economic, and scientific context of natural resource conflicts and their resolution.

Process Design — Design public processes that are inclusive, informed, and deliberative.  Tailor the process to meet the needs and interests of stakeholders, and in a way that respects legal, political, biological, and other constraints

Negotiation — Participate effectively in multi-party public processes.  Work with others to find mutual gain solutions.  Create and claim value; sequence issues; package options; manage communications between representatives and their constituent groups; build coalitions; and improve communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.

Facilitation and Mediation — Understand the value of impartial, nonpartisan facilitators and mediators in complex, multi-party natural resources issues.  Develop a working knowledge of the role of process managers in assessing situations, designing the right process, facilitating meetings, mediating disputes, drafting documents, and monitoring implementation.  Know when you need a facilitator or mediator, what to look for in a qualified process manager, and how to select such a person or team.

Collaborative Leadership — Enable people with different viewpoints to accomplish a task that none of them could accomplish individually; lead as a peer, not a superior; encourage and facilitate cooperation, pride, trust, and group identity; foster commitment and team spirit; work with others to achieve common goals and realize a sense of shared accomplishment; manage and resolve conflicts in a constructive manner; and manage effective meetings.

Joint Fact Finding – Through mutual learning and joint fact finding, help people with diverse viewpoints build a common understanding of complex issues and resolve scientific and technical disputes.  Clarify the role of scientific experts and technical information in shaping public policy and resolving natural resource disputes, and examine the principles and strategies of adaptive management.

Applications — Adapt principles and strategies to public participation, community-based collaboration, partnerships, administrative rulemaking, environmental impact assessment, resource planning, legislative policymaking, multi-jurisdictional issues, inter-agency coordination, court-connected disputes, intractable disputes, and dispute systems design.

Respond to Common Problems – Integrate non-local interest in local decision-making; deal with difficult people; engage unaffiliated citizens; know when and how to pull-out; and other common problems associated with collaborative, consensus-seeking processes.

Research and Evaluation – Apply alternative methods to evaluate the effectiveness of collaboration and other approaches to shape public policy and resolve natural resource disputes.  Research and document best practices, lessons learned, and case studies.

Resource Link: www.cfc.umt.edu/grad/NRCRP.aspx

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