Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The shape of a conflict transformation course

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Tonight will be the first session of my "Intro to Conflict Transformation" course at Bridgewater College. I just put the finishing touches on the syllabus and sent it off to have photocopies made for the students. At this early stage of my becoming a teacher, I thought it would be good for later reflection to post some of the particulars of this course. So here's a bit of what the course is looking like right now. Who knows what it will look like on May 1st when it concludes, or what I'll think of all this if/when I come back to it down the road to see how my thinking about teaching has shifted. Here goes...

SOC/PHIL 319: Introduction to Conflict Transformation
Bridgewater College, Spring 2012

Course description: This course starts with the assumption that conflict is neither good nor bad. Rather, conflict is an opportunity. How one responds to that opportunity is the focus of this course, because conflict transformation seeks to respond constructively to the natural experience of conflict. Course concepts and activities will progress through four levels of conflict, from personal to interpersonal (micro) to organizational to societal (macro). Analysis tools and intervention strategies will vary from level to level but a nested-systems view of conflict will help illuminate the connections between all four. While the weight the course will be practical in nature, offering students tools for use in their daily lives, various interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks will also be introduced throughout the course.

Course objectives: Students will 
  • Gain familiarity with conflict transformation concepts, language, and tools
  • Through action-reflection apply conflict transformation principles and practices to everyday life
  • Through conflict narratives learn how to nurture empathy in analysis and intervention
  • Through group work learn to practice conflict transformation in interpersonal situations
  • Learn how conflict transformation can be practiced professionally, as well as a way of life 
Course texts:
Pedagogical strategy: As a skills-focused and practically-oriented class intended to benefit students in their current and future, personal and professional lives, I plan to teach as a facilitator and coach, in addition to the more traditional forms of pedagogy in higher education, such as lecturing and administering exams. As such, both elicitive and transfer approaches will be utilized. Students will be asked to engage in a mix of individual and group work. Content delivery will take place over mixed media. Interactions with the instructor will take place in and outside of the classroom. The mixture of delivery and interaction media are intended to cover the range of learning styles in both reception, comprehension, and integration of course content at hand, i.e. conflict transformation.

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