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Collaborative learning is a new approach to public participation designed especially for public policy conflicts. The approach draws on what is called soft systems methodology, a theory of learning, and alternative dispute resolution. By combining these two methods, collaborative learning encourages the public and experts to learn together about each other, the issues in dispute, and alternative approaches for dealing with those issues. Like other transformative approaches to conflict, collaborative learning stresses process more than outcome, and seeks to make incremental improvements to mutual understanding, rather than seeking final resolution of a conflict. Though it stresses different terms, collaborative learning essentially seeks empowerment of the parties by improving the parties' ability to communicate with each other effectively, to collect, analyze, and understand complex technical information, and to use that information to make sensible decisions. The process also encourages recognition as it encourages effective listening and dialogue among all parties to a public policy conflict.
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For More Information: Contact: Guy Burgess or Heidi Burgess, Co-Directors, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Campus Box 327, Boulder, Colorado, 80309-0327, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (303) 492-1635; Fax: (303)492-2154.
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