List of Courses
- Mediation Theory and Skills
- Collaborative Planning
- Public Involvement in Planning
- USEM: Righting Unrightable Wrongs: Challenges of Restitution and Reparations
- USEM: Waging Revolution: Violent and Non-Violent Approaches to Political Change
Mediation Theory and Skills
This one-credit, pass-fail course introduces students to the principles and practices of mediated negotiations, with an emphasis on inter-personal conflict. Through readings, role plays, and other exercises, students develop competency in mediating a variety of issues, such as neighborhood or roommate disputes. Students also examine the theoretical basis of mediation and develop a capacity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different models of mediation.
- To develop understanding of the sources and dynamics of conflict;
- To develop awareness of one’s own and others’ personal conflict styles, and when they are and are not appropriate and effective;
- To develop listening and other communication skills;
- To understand the role of emotions in conflict and to develop strategies for dealing effectively with intense emotions;
- To develop sensitivity to cross-cultural differences and their role in disputes;
- To develop problem-solving skills;
- To develop a capacity for mediating interpersonal disputes;
- To understand ethical and legal issues involved in mediation.
“Collaborative Planning” proposes that public decisions are generally better when developed by processes that are inclusive of diverse views, transparent and inviting to those such decisions affect, and responsive to participant needs. Such processes need to encourage behavior that builds relationships of integrity and trust and decisions that are creative, effective and legitimate. Communities can only be sustained ecologically, socially, and economically with informed, legitimated participation by citizens actively engaged in public life. People yearn for accessible forums and processes to engage one another productively and safely, to speak of their own concerns, needs and aspirations, and even to learn the real needs of their neighbors. Such caring can engender conflict, which may be harmful, but authentic collaborative processes provide an opportunity to transform civic disarray into civic responsibility.
Students develop a capacity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of collaborative processes, learn best practices for engaging stakeholders and publics, and practice designing and conducting public meetings and other forums useful for collaborative planning. Groups are formed to study a topic and to offer recommendations for developing a collaborative process to address key issues. Learning to work effectively in groups and to plan and conduct effective collaborative projects are important parts of the class.
Public Involvement in Planning
In today’s democracies, citizens and communities are continuously buffeted by many forces outside of their immediate control that dramatically affect, and in some cases determine, their quality of life. The decisions of people with little or no stake in a particular neighborhood or community – agencies of state and federal government, developers of property, leaders of multi-national corporations – affect the choice and affordability of the housing in which community members live, the transportation they use, the food they put on their table, the way they communicate with the outside world, the means to educate their children, the work they pursue, and even the quality of the air they breathe and the water they drink.
Contemporary public problems, rooted in a variety of sources, require collaboration between and among many actors in the public and private sectors. More fundamentally, democratic governance thrives only with informed, legitimated participation by a public engaged in civic action. But too often, “public involvement” means a formulaic process whose rituals deaden, disempower, and disdain the needs, concerns and ideals of citizens and communities.
How can individuals and communities come together to make their own voices heard and shape their own neighborhoods and communities? How can those who help design those neighborhoods and communities, the architects, landscape architects and planners, understand those communities’ needs and concerns? How can responsible public officials help give voice to the previously unheard and put a face on the previously unseen?
This course examines the processes by which citizens and communities can create public actions that are just and legitimate, that foster community without parochialism, and that build rather than deplete social capital. The course focuses on three principle elements:
- Theory: Theory of democratic governance as reflected by public engagement;
- Skill-building: Communication and group facilitation skills used to foster constructive dialogue rather than circular debate;
- Strategic planning and design: The means of developing a range of public involvement processes and cases, including charettes, community visioning, advisory committees, and community collaboratives, as well as public hearings and meetings, that provide for legitimate and effective involvement.
Examples of public involvement strategies involving areas such as community design, transportation, and public lands planning will be offered. Guest speakers will include agency officials charged with public involvement, private consultants engaged in community involvement, and citizens who have participated in public involvement efforts. PLAN 526 includes a strong skills component. Through readings, role plays, and other exercises, students develop competency in making presentations and facilitating dialogue.
- To understand the ways in which standard public involvement processes do and do not provide legitimate opportunity for civic engagement;
- To understand and appreciate the roles and interests of public entities;
- To develop awareness of the need for legitimate and effective public involvement processes;
- To develop presentation, facilitation, and communication skills for engaging groups in constructive dialogue;
- To develop an ability to design and implement effective public involvement processes.
USEM: Righting Unrightable Wrongs: Challenges of Restitution and Reparations
From African-Americans demanding payment for slavery and its aftermath, to Native Americans seeking a return of lands, to Japanese-Americans attempting to draw attention to the shame of internment, many groups seek to right past harms and ongoing injustices. Can communities ever make right what appear to be irreparable wrongs? This course examines that large question within the context of communities affected by severe environmental contamination, reparations for slavery, Native American forced displacement and genocide, Japanese-American internment during World War II, and relevant examples from around the world, before turning to the question of history at the University of Virginia.
Unrightable wrongs, for purposes of this class, refer to past injustices that:
- were systematically or intentionally inflicted upon a community or identity group, often shaped by prejudice and discrimination;
- have historic, present and future impacts/consequences for the parties involved and the broader community,
- have come to involve a broad and complex set of issues and stakeholders, thus making efforts at resolution seem daunting or even impossible;
- have spiritual, moral, emotional, social, economic and political aspects and implications.
Truth, understanding, repair, and relationship are four components of reparation that may be considered in any situation involving what appears to be an unrightable wrong. Drawing upon the reparations literature as well as literature on restorative justice, this course provides students with the knowledge and skills to articulate, discuss, and facilitate action about repairing injustice in a variety of settings.
USEM: Waging Revolution: Violent and Non-Violent Approaches to Political Change
Since Sept. 11, 2001 many analysts are examining the Middle East, Islam, and terrorism. Fewer are examining the underpinnings of political violence or their non-violent alternatives. This class compares the many similarities and contrast the many differences between violent and non-violent approaches to making revolutionary change. Authors studied include historical figures such as Nelson Mandela, Mao Zedong, Mohatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Che Guevera, as well as contemporary authors.
Waging Revolution includes a strong skills component , with exercises and role plays designed to encourage critical thinking and dialogue. Student groups will be formed to study different theorists of violence and non-violence. Learning to work effectively in groups, including developing shared expectations for fair workload and productive decision-making, is an important part of the class.
Course objectives – Class members will:
- Be able to explain their own views on violence and non-violence as vehicles for political and social change, including in what circumstances and with what purposes violence and non-violence are and are not appropriate;
- Work fairly and effectively in small groups;
- Communicate effectively in interpersonal and small group dialogue;
- Demonstrate critical thinking skills.
UVA History: Race and Repair (Listed as PLAN/ARH and HIUS department courses)
This special topics class focuses on the university and the surrounding community of Charlottesville with a special emphasis on issues of race. Students will explore the history of the University from its founding and construction to the late twentieth century, exploring both the documented history and the community’s perception of that history.