University of Missouri-Columbia
School of Law
LL.M. in Dispute Resolution Program
Winter 2004

Syllabus for
UNDERSTANDING CONFLICT  

Distributed Jan.15, 2004
Mondays 2:00-4:50
Room 332a

Instructor:
Leonard Riskin
Suite 206 Hulston Hall
Tel: 573/882-8084 (o)
573/874-0454 (h)
Fax: 573/882-3343
Email: riskinL@missouri.edu

In this course, which is a requirement in the LL.M. in dispute resolution curriculum, we will look at conflict more deeply and broadly than is typical in other dispute resolution courses. Our principal goal is to develop insights into conflict--its nature, functions, and possibilities--so that, in variety of roles, we can understand and handle it most productively and appropriately.

The course will follow several tracks almost simultaneously, by inquiring into such questions as:

1. How do “experts” and other people understand conflict? From various intellectual and cultural perspectives, what is the nature of conflict? How does it arise? What purposes can or does it serve? And how do, can, and should people and organizations address, resolve, use, and manage it?

2. How does each of us (members of the class), in our professional and private capacities, understand and deal with conflict? What features of our own personalities, backgrounds, training and perspectives limit and enhance our conflict-generating, conflict-handling, and conflict-avoiding behaviors? How can we do better?

3. What can be done to enhance the capacities of law students, lawyers, judges, negotiators, and dispute resolution neutrals--such as mediators--to deal with conflict more effectively and productively, including using conflict as an opportunity for improvement in people, organizations, or institutions? What can education and training programs contribute? To what extent do the personalities of many lawyers and other professionals resist change?

We will approach much of the learning in this course through attention to a number of themes, including the following:

Inside and outside: What are the relationships between conflicts inside individuals and groups and conflicts between them and other individuals and groups? What is the role of personal and group identity in conflicts?

Separation and connection. How do perceptions of self and other affect the development of conflict?

Collaboration and competition. To what extent are these in tension? What does it mean to win? When and why is winning important?

A subsidiary goal is to give students an opportunity to improve their writing.

Class work will include the following:

1. Readings from four books (which are listed below on p. 5) and additional readings that will be available for purchase at the Copy Center in Brady Commons periodically.

2. Writing two papers. Each student will prepare and revise two brief papers (as well as give comments on papers of other students). Most students will present both their papers in class, but it is possible that will not have time for all students to make two presentations. For purposes of deadlines and presentations, we will divide the class into two groups. Students in Group I will submit and present both papers earlier than students in Group II, as described infra in this syllabus.

Written proposals for the case study paper are due in class on Mon., Feb. 16 and should consist of a brief description of the conflict and a tentative sense of how you might approach the paper.

Group I students: First drafts are due in class on Monday, Mar. 8. Also by that time, give a hard copy of your paper to the classmate or classmates I have assigned to review your paper and email copies to all classmates. Designated commentators must submit their comments (which should consist of markings on the document and, ideally, a separate document) to the authors and to me by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 12. Each written comment should include the names of the author of the paper and the commentator. Some students in this group will present their papers in class on Mon., Mar. 15. I will give the authors written comments as soon as I can. Final versions of these papers are due in class on Mon., Mar. 29.

Group II students: First drafts are due in class on Mon., Mar. 15. Also by that time, give a copy of your paper to the classmate or classmates I have assigned to comment on your paper and send email copies to all class members. Commentators should submit their comments (which should consist of markings on the document and, ideally, a separate writing to the authors and to me by 3:00 on Fri., Mar. 19. Each written comment should include the names of the author of the paper and the commentator. Final drafts of the late option first paper are due in class on Mon., Mar. 29.

Written proposals for the second paper (book review) are due in class on Mon., Mar. 15. Proposals should include the author, title, number of pages, date of publication, publisher, a brief description of the book, and an explanation of why you want to review that book. I would be glad to discuss alternatives with you, either in person or in writing, before this date.

Group I. students: First drafts will be due (hard copies to me and to the designated commentators, with email copies to other class members) in class on April 12. Some students in Group I will make presentations in class on April 19. Reviewers should submit their comments to the author and to me by 9:00 a.m. on the day the paper is to be presented. The revised, final draft is due, in the box outside my office, on Mon., May 3 at 4:00 p.m.

Group II. students: First drafts will be due (hard copies to me and to the designated commentators, with email copies to other class members) in class on April 19. Some students in the group will make presentations in class on April 26. Reviewers should submit their comments to the author and to me by 9:00 a.m. April 26. The revised, final draft is due, in the box outside my office, on Mon., May 10 at 4:00 p.m.

The two papers will account for roughly 90% of the final grade.

[Note: For both papers in this course, use footnotes to cite authority (rather than references in the text) and follow the format set forth in either the “Blue Book,” (A Uniform System of Citation) or in Darby Dickerson, ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (2000) or the latest edition. In the initial footnote for each paper, indicate which system you are following. You need not do a perfect job of following either system, which can get complex, but you should be able to master its rules for books and articles. I will provide more details about these assignments later.]

3. Participating in class activities, including experiential exercises, discussions of the readings, presentations and journals (described below). I will occasionally ask individual class members to make presentations on readings or to be especially prepared to discuss certain readings. Class participation will account for roughly 5-10% of your grade. Attendance is mandatory, so missing classes may affect your grade.

4. Maintaining a journal of your subjective reactions to certain of the course-related activities. I will occasionally make specific journal-writing assignments. I will not grade your journals, but will look for diligence. Whether I will give credit for journals, and how much credit, will depend on how much journaling I actually assign. Students who do journaling instead of mindfulness practice (see 5 below) have fulfilled a course requirement and will not get a grade for such activity.

5. Mindfulness training and practice. Instruction in mindfulness meditation and practice sessions will make up a significant portion of the course but will not be graded directly; the mindfulness practice, or its alternative--journaling--might enhance your performance in other aspects of the course, however. The mindfulness aspect of this course is voluntary. If you have reservations about taking part, please talk to me. I can give you alternative work--journaling. Non-participation will not affect your grade--really.

We will devote parts of most classes to instruction and practice in mindfulness meditation. Also know as insight or Vipassana meditation, this method derives from a 2,500-year-old Buddhist practice that has achieved great popularity in the Western world in recent times. In the past few years, for example, repeated training and practice sessions have been held for top executives at Monsanto; leading journalists; lawyers at two large law firms in Boston and one in Minneapolis; and students at about eight U.S. law schools, including Columbia, Harvard, Yale, North Carolina, and, of course, MU. Coach Phil Jackson used it with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers basketball teams. I have given programs on mindfulness to lawyers, law students, mediators, business executives, and members of the public across the U.S. and in Europe. Although it derives from a Buddhist tradition, the method has been used extensively by practitioners of many other religions, especially Christianity (the Catholic Monk, Thomas Merton has written extensively about his use of this method) and Judaism.

The practice can readily lead to stress reduction and improvements in concentration. I believe it also can help people, especially lawyers and mediators, understand themselves and others better and to deal more effectively with conflict.   In some cases, it can have more profound impacts.

The practice consists, first, of learning to concentrate and then applying that concentration to observing-- calmly and without judging--your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. I will explain this in greater detail in class. After the training sessions, I will encourage (but not require) you to try this practice at home and in your daily life. For further explanations, see Leonard L. Riskin, The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students, Lawyers, and their Clients, 7 Harv. Negot. L. Rev. 1-66 (2002) (copies of which I have already distributed as an email attachment). Other readings on mindfulness are included in the Readings for this course and listed under Resources at http://www.pon.harvard.edu/news/2002/riskin_mindfulness.php3.

In past years, a significant portion of students have thought they benefited immensely from the mindfulness portion of the course. Still, all mindfulness activities will be voluntary. We will begin most class sessions, after the first session, with a 30-minute meditation period (and I will encourage students to develop a regular meditation practice outside of class). Those who prefer not to participate in the in-class meditation sessions may arrive after that period; I will give them alternative assignments designed to develop self-awareness, most likely journaling.

6. Enneagram. We will devote one class session, with possible follow-ups, to study of the Enneagram, an ancient method of understanding personality types and the associated perceptual filters. This system is very helpful in promoting self-understanding, self-awareness and understanding of others, all of which are helpful in understanding and dealing with conflict. Two experts on the Enneagram, Robert Hodge, M.D., and Sandra Hodge, Ph.D., will lead this session. 

***

Readings

Required books (available at the University Bookstore)

Recommended (not required) books dealing with mindfulness

Books on Reserve

The books listed below will be on reserve shortly after the semester begins. I may add other materials as the course develops.

***

Class 1. Mon., Jan. 19 Introduction to course and each other.
Assignment: No advance required reading.
Recommended background: Leonard L. Riskin, The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students, Lawyers, and their Clients (Previously distributed as an email attachment.); Steven Keeva, Transforming Practices (1998).
 
Class 2. Mon., Jan. 26 Introduction to Conflict Theory.
Read: Bernard Mayer, The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution pp. ix-xv, 3-118.
 
* Thurs., Jan. 29 The following two programs fit together nicely because mindfulness meditation is a premier method of developing emotional intelligence:
  • Emotional Intelligence, presented by James Dugan, Ph.D., and Dean Tamara Wilson-Setser, 1:00-2:15 room ____. Optional.
  • Stress and Satisfaction in Law School and Law Practice: PRIVATE Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Law Students, by Leonard Riskin and Lynn Rossy, Ph.D., Director, Mindfulness Practice Center at 4:40-6:30 in room 332a. This program is an introduction to mindfulness meditation practices and to the six-week course on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for law students that will begin on Feb. 5. Optional.
Class 3. Mon., Feb. 2 Ethnic Conflict and Terrorism
Read: Vamik Volkan, Bloodlines, pp. 3-115; 156-67

Class 4. Mon., Feb. 9 Difficult Conversations I.
Read: Difficult Conversations pp. iv-xxi, 3-128
 
Class 5. Mon., Feb.16 Difficult Conversations II
Read: Difficult Conversations pp.131-248
Students submit written proposals for case studies.

* Fri.-Sat, Feb. 20-21 Conference: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fear and Risk Perception in Times of Democratic Crisis. Optional.
 
* Fri., Feb. 20, 1:15 p.m. Keynote address by University of Chicago Law Professor Cass Sunstein. Optional.

Class 6. Mon., Feb. 23 Mindfulness (and other contemplative practices) in Law, Dispute Resolution and Education.
Read:
  • Marcia Barinaga, Buddhism and Neuroscience: Studying the Well-Trained Mind, Science, Oct. 3, 2003, pp.44-46 (2003).
  • Tom Fisher, Who's Minding the Mediator? Mindfulness in Mediation, ADR Bulletin (Australia), Mar. 2003.
  • Daniel Goleman, Finding Happiness: Cajole Your Brain to Lean to the Left, New York Times, Feb. 4, 2003
  • Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence 3-29 (1995)
  • Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence 317-18 (1998)
  • Walter Mischel & Aaron DeSmet, Self-Regulation in the Service of Conflict Resolution, in Morton Deutsch & Peter Coleman, The Handbook of Conflict Resolution Theory & Practice 256-75 (2000).
  • Leonard Riskin, The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students, Lawyers, and their Clients, 7 Harv. Negot. L. Rev. 1-66 (2002). (Previously distributed as email attachment.)
  • Leonard Riskin, Mindfulness: Basic Training for Dispute Resolution (Journal of Legal Education, forthcoming 2004).
  • Ed Sarath, Contemplative Practices in Education: The Next Wave? 27 Innovative Higher Educ. 215-33 (2003).
  • Michael King, Natural Law and the Bhagavad-Gita: The Vedic Concept of Natural Law, 16 Ratio Juris 399-415 (2003).
Class 7. Mon., Mar. 1 Enneagram I. Presented by Robert Hodge, M.D., and Sandra Hodge, Ph.D.
Assignment: In David Daniels & Virginia Price, The Essential Enneagram (2000), read pp. 1-3; take the Essential Enneagram Test on pp. 4-8; fill in p. 9; read pp. 10-21; read about those types that seem most relevant to you.

* Mar. 4-5 Presentation(s) by Vamik Volkan at time(s) to be announced. Optional, because some students will not be in town.

* Sat., Mar. 6 “All day” meditation retreat off campus. (9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.). Optional.
 
Class 8. Mon., Mar. 8 TBA. Possible Enneagram II
Group I students submit hard copies of drafts of case studies to instructor and assigned reviewers, with email copies to other classmates.

* Fri., Mar. 12, 3:00 p.m. Assigned reviewers deliver comments to writers and to the instructor.
 
Class 9. Mon., Mar. 15 Case study presentations, Group I (extended class)
Group II students submit hard copies of drafts of case studies to instructor and assigned reviewers, with e-mail copies to other class members.
 
* Mon., Mar. 22 BREAK, NO CLASS
 
Class 10. Mon., Mar. 29 Case study presentations, Group II (Extended class.)
Group I students submit final draft of case study in class.

Class 11. Mon., April 5 Mindful Decision-Making in Mediation: The New New Grid System.
Read: Leonard L. Riskin, Decision-Making in Mediation: the New Old Grid and the New New Grid System, 79 Notre Dame L. Rev. ___(2003).
Group II students submit final case studies.

Class 12. Mon., April 12 Distinguished Dispute Resolution Lecture by Harvard Law Professor Robert Mnookin to begin at 1:00 p.m. (tentative) and go until about 2:30, followed by a reception. It’s possible we will have another event for LL.M. students to meet with Professor Mnookin in the morning or during our regular class time.

Group I students submit drafts of book reviews to instructor and designated peer reviewer(s).

* April 14/15-18 ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Conference in New York City (many students in previous LL.M. classes have enjoyed this conference).

Class 13. Mon., April 19 Book review presentations by some Group I students.
Group II students submit drafts of book reviews to instructor and assigned reviewer (s).
Designated reviewers submit comments to writers and instructor by 9:00 a.m.

Class 14. Mon., April 26 Book review presentations by some Group II students
Designated reviewers submit comments to writers and instructor by 9:00 a.m.

* Mon., May , 3, 4:00 p.m. Group I students submit final book reviews.

* Mon., May 10, 4:00 p.m. Group II students submit final book reviews.


Copyright 2004 Leonard Riskin. Teachers are free to copy these materials for educational use in their courses only, provided that appropriate acknowledgment of the author is made. For permission to use these materials for any other purpose, contact the author.