Syllabus - "Tools of Engaging Conflict"

Course
Tools of Engaging Conflict 

Instructor
Dorit Cypis

Description
Many artists today are working in collaborative and partnership situations. Often this engagement brings up difficult cultural and personal differences amongst the parties. Differences that are not understood can become an impasse to working together and result is conflict. How we communicate can have a tremendous impact on relations across conflicting differences. There is nothing wrong with difference, nor with conflict, in fact we need challenges to go beyond what we already know in order to develop creative options. Conflict is human, so is difference. What we often lack are models of how to engage with conflict in generative rather than adversarial ways.

We forget that conflict that is between people is also within people. To transform conflict between we must also transform within. Part 1 of this seminar will be looking at the psychosocial aspects of conflict including the nature and culture of difference and bias formation, reaction versus response, and dynamic communication towards equity, empathy and reciprocity.

Goals
-recognize that conflict is dynamic and necessary
-conflict that is between people is also within people
-skills for engaging across differences
-understanding fluid interests within fixed positions
-recognize personal and cultural bias
-expanding dialogic activities

Schedule
Various dynamic tools will be presented from an integration of aesthetic and mediation principals.
Participants will work independently, in pairs and in groups with strategies of dialogue, focused conversation and facilitation. We will question who is sitting around the table – how to speak of and to difference – how to listen dynamically – when are we mirroring each other – what are blind spots?

Workshop participants will creatively adapt the engagement tools I present to meet specific issues that they face or expect to face in their artistic practices.

Tools we will explore:
Bias Awareness
Dynamic Listening
Focused Conversation
Consensus Building
Dialogue Facilitation
Conflict Mediation
Negotiation

Required Reading
Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, Verso, 2004  pdf
Dorit Cypis, Susan Oetgen, and Eva Vander Giessen, Performing Empathy: What the Arts Can Offer Conflict Resolution, 2013  pdf
Dorit Cypis, The Space of Conflict: Aesthetic Lessons for Mediators, 2016  pdf

Suggested Reading
Mediating Dangerously, Kenneth Cloke, Jossey Bass Press, 2001
Dialogue and The Art of Thinking Together, William Isaacs, Currency Doubleday, 1999
The Power of a Positive No, William Ury, Bantam, 2007
The Moral Imagination, John Paul Lederbach, Oxford Press, 2005
Brave New World: Remix Occupy, Dorit Cypis, 2012

Materials students should bring to class
final projects can include any material and technology

Keywords
conflict, engagement, public dialogue, difference, identity, social relations, bias awareness, spatial aesthetics