The Evergreen State College

Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice

Summer 2000, 2nd Session
[8 Credits]
Course Syllabus
Dr. Simona Sharoni My Background & Teaching Philosophy
Office: Seminar Bldg., Room 4165 Course Description
Phone: 360-570-8860, ext. 6196  Course Outline
Email: Readings
Office Hours: Wed. 10 AM- 12 PM & by appointment Assignments
Room: TTH LIB 2220; SAT LIB 2218 Weekly schedules

My Background & Teaching Philosophy

"Curiosity as restless questioning, as movement toward the revelation of something hidden, as a question verbalized or not, as search for clarity, as a moment of attention, suggestion, and vigilance, constitutes an integral part of the phenomenon or being alive. There could be no creativity without the curiosity that moves us and sets us patiently impatient before a world that we did not make, to add to it something of our own making."
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civil Courage
I chose the above quote from Paulo Freire, a man who has inspired many critical educators and activists worldwide, to share with you some preliminary comments about my background and approach to teaching and learning.

I grew up and lived most of my life in the Middle East and my career path, experiences and interest reflect the impact the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had on my life. In the fall of 1989, I arrived in the United States from Israel and enrolled in the Ph.D program at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, which at the time was the only academic institution offering a degree in this field. The program was interdisciplinary in scope, focusing primarily on the social sciences and stressing the nexus between theory and praxis. Like many other activists in different parts of the world, I thought that pursuing a doctorate degree would allow me to reflect on the work I have been involved in both in dialogue and reconciliation between Palestinians and Jews and in the women's peace movement in Israel.

Against the backdrop of the Palestinian uprising, known as the intifada, that was unfolding on the worlds stage, I studied theories of conflict and models designed to resolve them. The process was fairly frustrating. The theories seemed too general and abstract and, like my fellow students who came from other conflict-torn regions, I was put off by attempts to use a one-size-fits-all model for conflicts that seem to have very unique histories and dynamics.  Two other things, which I struggled with in the course of my graduate studies, were the privileging of official diplomacy and the lack of attention to women and gender issues in both theory and practice. Notwithstanding my frustration at the time, in retrospect, it seems that graduate school did have a very positive impact on my development as a scholar-activist. I identified areas that I feel strongly about and that have not been adequately addressed in the existing bodies of literature on peace and conflict resolution.

Teaching for me entails more than the mere transmission of knowledge from teacher to student. I am committed to a type of pedagogy that focuses not only on the presentation of content, facts, and information, but also on the ways in which particular theories and topics could be taught so they resonate with your every day lives and experiences. I see academic institutions as sites for personal growth and social transformation, and teaching, mentoring, and supervising as the means to bring about this transformation. My professional training as a teacher, which includes a Masters of Arts degree in Education and Counseling and almost two decades of teaching experience, has provided me with a strong theoretical and practical basis in critical pedagogy and in experiential teaching.

Over the years, I have experimented with a range of approaches and activities. Rather than assuming that I as the teacher have the knowledge and my primary task is to share it with you, I view the class as a learning community, as a context wherein we all learn and teach. As we read, meet with various people and participate in class activities, we will experience a range of emotions, generate an enormous amount of insights and identify many questions. Throughout this process, you will be encouraged to think critically and independently and to question taken for granted assumptions. While most students find this approach to teaching and learning more stimulating than the traditional formats of lectures or seminars, the practice of critical pedagogy can sometimes be experienced by both students and professors as painful and unsettling. At the same time, most students, including those who initially don't like this approach, acknowledge the transformative effects it had on their lives. I have been working on an ongoing research project on studentsí responses to critical pedagogy.

If you who are interested in learning more about this pedagogical approach and especially about Paulo Freire writings and work, you can check out the following books and web pages.
Recommended Books:

          Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
         ____________, Education for Critical Consciousness

____________, Pedagogy of Freedom : Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage

____________, Teachers As Cultural Workers : Letters to Those Who Dare Teach

Selected Web pages: (mostly in Spanish)

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the growing body of literature in the interdisciplinary field of conflict resolution. We will analyze and explore ways to resolve conflicts in various settings from the home and workplace to the national and international arena. We will employ a case-study approach, starting with an analysis of conflicts involving questions of identity and difference as well as power disparities. As a particular case in point, we will focus on conflicts in the US, which involve race or racism and examine ways to approach them.  The next central theme we will explore is violence and nonviolence.  In this context, we will critically analyze the phenomenon of school violence and some of the program designed to address it.  In addition, we will examine the relationship between gender and violence in various international settings.  Finally, we will compare and contrast conventional conflict resolution approaches with more critical ones as we examine their applicability to the cases studies in the class.

The course will be taught in a dynamic workshop format. In addition to lectures, films and guest presentations, students will participate in class exercises and simulations and learn basic communication skills and rudimentary conflict analysis and resolution skills.

Course Outline
Week 1 Introduction to Conflict Analysis & Resolution 
Week 2 Conflict Analysis: Identity/Difference and Race in America 
Week 3 Analyzing Violence: From US Schools to Gender and Conflict in the International Arena 
Week 4 Conflict Resolution: Conventional vs. Critical Approaches 
Week 5 Summary & Final Presentations 

Please do not panic when you see the reading list.  Those of you who went by the bookstore realized that 3 of the books are more like booklets and I think most of you would find all books are very readable. If you feel like it, you could still complain, but don't forget that this is an 8 credit class!  

These assignments are designed primarily to help you integrate theoretical concepts and reading material with your life experiences.  A few assignments are designed to prompt you to think about certain issues and questions in preparation for in-class workshops or discussions. Therefore, it is very important that you don't fall behind and submit ALL your assignments on time.
Most assignments would best fit an essay format, combining description and analysis and allowing you to use first-person as you write..

Please note that you will have the option of re-writing ALL your assignments and re-submit them with your final portfolio.
If you panicked when you saw the reading list, you are likely to have a similar reaction to the list of assignments.  Before you get alarmed, please read the instructions for each assignment very carefully.  Once you do, you would realize that all the assignments combined require you to write less than 15 double-spaced pages, which is really not much for an 8 credit class.

Conflict history essay
Write a short essay reflecting on major turning points and significant people and experiences in your life that shaped your worldview in general and your interest in conflict resolution in particular.
Length: 2-3 types and double-spaced pages
Due: Thursday 7/27

Conflict style analysis
Recall two interpersonal conflicts you have been involved in recently. Analyze the ways in which you dealt with these conflicts, trying to identify some patterns. Reflect on the extent to which your behavior resonated with the typology of conflict styles described in the assigned article.
Length: 1-2 double-spaced pages
Due: Saturday 7/29

Identity/difference essay
Recall your earliest memory of becoming aware of and dealing with difference. Describe the type of difference and how your dealt with it? What were the power relations? What has changed in your approach to difference over the years? Which questions or issues remain unresolved for you? These are just some questions that come to mind.
Length: 2-3 double-spaced pages
Due: Tuesday 8/1

Response to NYT article
The New York Times has been running a special series with features articles on the topic of race in America.  For this assignment, you should choose an article that appeals to you, read it and write a brief response to the article.  When relevant, your response should include some reference to relevant readings and class discussion on the topic.
--To choose an article click on the series title: How Race is Lived in America?
Length: 1-2 double-spaced pages
Due: Saturday 8/5
Analysis of newspaper clippings of violence
Choose 3-5 newspaper clippings dealing with violence, preferably in different settings. What are the patterns of similarity and difference between these stories? How relevant are some of the readings and class activities we've had to the analysis of these cases?
In choosing your clippings, you can use the print media, radio and TV as well as online news.  Ideally, your clippings would be taken from various sources.
Length: 3-5 clippings, 2-3 double-spaced pages
Due: Tuesday 8/8

Book review
You should write a brief review of Jacobs et. al States of Conflict: Gender, Violence and Resistance.  Since this is an edited collection, you don't have to mention all the contributors.  Instead you can focus on those chapters you found particularly interesting.
Length: 1-2 double-spaced pages
Due:  Saturday 8/12

For detailed instructions on how to write a book review click here.

Class presentation
Your presentation should reflect your learning in this class, preferably in some creative manner.  You can a particular question, issue, experience or reading that had a profound impact on you.  Please let me know in advance if you would need any audio-visual equipment for your presentation.
You may choose to collaborate with your classmates on this assignment. Each student will be allotted 15 minutes for presentation plus the same amount of time for class discussion and feedback from the class.  If you are working in a group, you will have more time for your presentation.  For example, a group of 3 students will have up to 45 minutes for presentation.
Dates: Thursday 8/24 or Saturday 8/26

Final portfolio
The portfolio should contain ALL your written assignment during the class plus anything you wrote or created inspired by the class. If you decide to re-write any of your assignments, please include both the original and the re-write. The portfolio should include a draft of your self-evaluation, which together with the portfolio will assist me in writing my evaluation of your work in this class for discussion during our conference the following week.
Length: 12-20 double spaced pages (not including your self-evaluation)
Due: Saturday 8/26
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Madeby: Simona Sharoni
Last modified: 7/5/2000