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 Tuesday, October 14, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Conflict Resolution Day warms up with an “Un-Debate”
by Allison Sylvest

International Conflict Resolution Day, Oct. 16, 2008, began as a way to increase public awareness about conflict resolution. The Association of Conflict Resolution designated the third Thursday in October as Conflict Resolution Day in 2005 and has reached out to local, state and international groups to build interest in holding local celebrations in conjunction with this official date.

This year, Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson has proclaimed Thursday, Oct. 16 to be Conflict Resolution Day on the Boulder campus. There will be a day of workshops and events that address the various ways in which discussion around conflict can lead to productive outcomes.

All Oct. 16 Conflict Resolution Day events will be held in UMC Room 247 and include:

  • 8-9:15 a.m. Communication and Conflict – Moderator: Tom Sebok
  • 9:30-10:45 a.m. Constructive Confrontation – Moderator: Guy and Heidi Burgess
  • 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. The Basics of Dialogue – Moderator: Barbara Kulton
  • 12:30-1:45 p.m. Debriefing of 10-14 “Un-Debate” – Moderator: Stan Deetz
  • 2-3:15 p.m. Restorative Justice Demonstration – Moderator: Gina Bata
  • 3:30-4:45 p.m. Managing Faculty Conflict – Moderator: John Frazee

“The workshops explore different ways in which conflict can happen and how skilled communication can help to defuse tension and unproductive talk, bringing discussion around to resolution,” said Tom Sebok, director of the Ombuds Office.

As a precursor to the Oct. 16, day of events, political hopefuls and political experts will meet to participate in an “Un-Debate” on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Wittemyer Courtroom of the Wolf Law Building. Overflow seating will be provided in an adjacent classroom with audio and video access. The event is the first of its kind in political circles and a new approach to debate that encourages nuanced discussion of issues.

“It’s unfortunate that political debate has been reduced to what are essentially soundbites,” said Sebok. “Most political debates are argumentative and adversarial. The “Un-Debate will offer a new approach – it’s not necessarily intuitive, but we believe it will be a more effective approach and the participants are to be commended for their involvement.”

Jared Polis, Scott Starin and Bill Hammons, candidates for United States House of Representatives, 2nd District, will participate in the “Un-Debate” facilitated by Mary Margaret Golten, partner, CDR Associates.

Discussion will include Hank Brown, former CU President and United States Senator and current Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership; Rollie Heath, candidate for the Colorado Senate 18th District; Stan Deetz, professor of communication and director of Peace and Conflict Studies; and Susan Clark, professor of political science and director of the Center for Advanced Research in the Social Sciences (CARTSS).

Students have chosen the economy and education as the focus of discussion. According to Deetz, the “Un-Debate” is best conceived of as a working experiment; the goal is to identify shared interests and mutual outcomes rather than express preexisting positions. “This is a new model for political discourse,” said Deetz. “It’s an attempt to emphasize the exploration of issues, particularly as politics reach higher levels of complexity and importance.”

More information and a full schedule of events is available on the Peace and Conflict Studies website.

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