This course is an introduction to the approach of Action Inquiry developed by Donald Schoen, Chris Argyris and William Torbert. Action inquiry is an approach that enables professionals to understand how they use their knowledge in practical situations and how they combine action and learning in a more effective way. Through greater awareness and reflection, students will be able to identify the knowledge that is embedded in the experience of their work so that they can improve their actions in a timely way, and achieve greater flexibility and conceptual innovation. The objective of the course is to introduce students to the approach and methods of action inquiry by raising their awareness between intention, strategy and outcomes in their practice.
Professional and academic success requires the effective use of writing to reach shared understanding of situations, develop and communicate a coherent line of reasoning and assessment of options, arrive at sound individual and collective judgments, and achieve intended results with readers and collaborators. Successful written communications originate from critical thinking processes that incorporate clarity of purpose, accuracy, and sound analysis with awareness of audience and context. This course develops and strengthens these core abilities to think critically and write effectively. Students practice the reasoning, composition, and collaboration skills that are basic to these abilities, including library research, editing, formatting, and engaging in substantive reflection and dialogue on key issues.
This course introduces students to the foundation and theories of integral conflict analysis and engagement as well as the purpose, components and use of the integral model for analyzing conflicts.
This course presents a critical examination of contemporary approaches to negotiation and mediation. Theoretical and empirical aspects of strategies and processes of negotiation and mediation are explored, along with cases of both successful and unsuccessful negotiations and mediations. Roles, capacities and motivations of parties are discussed. Ethical issues and concerns in the practice of negotiation and mediation are analyzed.
Change agents in every setting confront conflicted situations and have leadership roles therein. Such individuals have an ethical duty to know themselves well enough to “first, do no harm.” That duty includes understanding conflict and identity as enduring factors in ordinary human experience and leadership challenges. Conflicts press for choices among stakeholders’ competing interests and needs, often threatening identity along with presenting issues. Drawing from developmental, conflict, and leadership theories and applications, this course examines mental models of leadership, how personal and group identities form and change as they develop, and how these factors impact leadership and conflict styles, effectiveness in change-making, and capacities for critical reflection and foresight.
In this course, students will be introduced to consensus building decision processes, group process theories, and the skills needed to facilitate groups of all sizes in a wide variety of settings. Characteristics of consensus decision making and effective groups will be identified, and the role and function of a group facilitator will be defined. Consensus building processes, group development and formation will be examined, as will several group task and maintenance functions. Throughout this course there will be an emphasis on applying collaborative conflict management theory, strategies and processes.
This course has two distinct foci: an examination of how the organization of social and political institutions (structures) may create a system of winners and losers in which people become trapped in a particular social situation and how organizational systems exercise power in support of staff needs attainment, access to resources and inclusion in decision making. The course begins by introducing various theoretical contributions to our understanding of structures and systems, how and where conflict is built into the structures and systems, and various methods for diagnosing these issues.
This course introduces and applies a range of concepts from cultural conflict theory that are essential to critical systems thinking about, and analysis of, cultural conflicts. Various definitions of both culture and conflict are examined. Core dimensions of every cultural conflict system are studied, which include the content of the conflict, the history and nature of relations among parties, and the clash of cultural values. The static and developing roles of individual and collective narratives, identities, and uses of territories are examined. Analytical methods and their rationale are introduced and their applications are critically examined.
This course introduces qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches to research in an interdisciplinary context. It examines methodological assumptions of those approaches and fundamental issues in designing a research study. Students think critically about how to use various methods to investigate information and phenomena of interest to create new knowledge for professional and academic purposes. Students identify a manageable research question that is consistent with their educational and professional goals, design a small project to answer the question, collect, analyze and interpret data, and present their research findings.
This course introduces and applies key concepts and practices of critical systems thinking to personal, organizational, and public contexts. Applicable to all human endeavors, such thinking is essential to inform strategies and interventions meant to initiate change, address issues, and manage conflicts and resources. Course topics include pattern analysis, properties of complex adaptive systems, and leverage points for action on small and larger scales of social and environmental concerns. Course methods develop students’ competency to apply critical system thinking practices, understand prior and current experience, meet professional challenges and career needs, and serve as effective change agents.