Putting Yourself in Their Shoes: The Analysis of Real-World Disputes through Group Field Projects
Journal of Public Affairs Education, 2009
31 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2009
Date Written: July 1, 2009
This article seeks to explain the development and use of group field projects to analyze real-world public policy disputes in a course on conflict management. In the process of learning about the evolution of disputes, their management, and techniques for resolution, students are assigned to groups and are required to analyze a local public dispute with multiple parties. Using Carpenter and Kennedy’s book, Managing Public Disputes, and other course material, students provide a detailed analysis of the conflict’s history, identify stakeholders, and learn about the positions and interests of these disputants. After extensive analysis, students recommend a conflict management program for the dispute. During the semester, this project provides a capstone, of sorts, to their work in the MPA program. Students see firsthand the complexity of policy disputes, how individuals and groups approach public problems, and why some policy solutions lead to successes and failures.
Keywords: Pedagogy, dispute resolution, public disputes, teaching, class project, field project, mediation, negotiation
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