Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

Courses Taught by Frank Dukes

List of Courses

  • Mediation Theory and Skills (PLAN 3250/5250) – Spring Semester
  • Collaborative Planning (PLAC 5240) – Fall Semester
  • Righting Unrightable Wrongs: Challenges of Restitution and Reparations (USEM 1570) – Spring Semester

Course Descriptions

Mediation Theory and Skills (PLAN 3250/5250) – Spring Semester

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. The class is held in January.

Course objectives:

  • 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 (PLAC 5240) – Fall Semester

“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.

USEM: Righting Unrightable Wrongs: Challenges of Restitution and Reparations (USEM 1570) – Spring Semester

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:

  1. were systematically or intentionally inflicted upon a community or identity group, often shaped by prejudice and discrimination;
  2. have historic, present and future impacts/consequences for the parties involved and the broader community,
  3. have come to involve a broad and complex set of issues and stakeholders, thus making efforts at resolution seem daunting or even impossible;
  4. 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.