“I've gained a lot of knowledge about the topic as well as myself as a person, and how I react to conflicts.” — Sofia Arona
Conflict is a part of life. Most people do not like conflict because they usually do not resolve their conflicts well and so they develop a distaste for it. There are also ways to constructively engage in conflict that lead to better quality outcomes and relationships. In this course, students learn basic concepts about conflict resolution so that they can develop a deeper and broader understanding of conflict dynamics. There are many types of conflicts and in this course the students focus on learning more about their interpersonal conflicts with others. They learn skills so they will be able to more constructively resolve their interpersonal conflicts toward win-win outcomes.
These goals are achieved by students developing more self-awareness as to the types of conflict styles they tend to use as their “default” approach. They become more aware of their “hot buttons” and the types of behaviors and situations that cause them to become embroiled in a conflict situation. In addition to learning more about their own habits, they apply these concepts and skills to better understand others around them. By developing more empathy and understanding of others, students are able to reduce the number, types, and intensity of their interpersonal conflicts.
The course is primarily experiential and interactive so students learn by doing and reinforce their learning through immediate application. There are role-plays, simulations, discussions, presentations, film analyses, and other activities designed to enhance learning of the identified concepts and skills.
Though this course is intended primarily for older students, it is also open to highly qualified rising freshmen and sophomores. Please note that the course addresses real-world social and political issues that can be controversial and therefore require a fair amount of maturity.
Katherine Gentile holds an M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University and a B.F.A. in theater from the Mason Gross School of the Arts. She has worked as a teaching assistant for Columbia’s course in Advanced Conflict Resolution. In her thesis, “Giving Individual Citizens a Voice While Amidst Environmental Disasters,” Gentile performs a case study of the long-term impact of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill on the local fishing village of Cordova, Alaska.
Saad A. Saad is a co-founder and CEO of Retea, a social enterprise that funds refugee education programs through the sale of tea. He holds an M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University and a B.A. in political science and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Michigan. Saad teaches conflict resolution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and frequents the Middle East to consult and conduct trainings.