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Web Schedule Fall 2019

Revision Date: 07-May-19

COM-2360-VO01Y - Conflict Resolution

Synonym: 186427
Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Accelerated Section: This course has special meeting dates and times. See comments below or consult VSC Web Services - Search for Sections in the VSC portal for specific dates and times. If you have any questions call the site office offering the course.
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 10-29-2019 to 12-16-2019
Last day to drop without a grade: 11-07-2019 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-26-2019 - Refund Policy
Faculty: Amy Beth Kessinger | View Faculty Credentials
Materials/Lab Fees: $20.00
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration
This section meets the following General Education Requirement(s):
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description:

Students will explore the scope and nature of, and become acquainted with, methods of conflict resolution and nonviolent change at various levels. Focuses on active listening and oral communication skills, principled negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and nonviolent direct action. Students also examine their own personal communication styles with regard to conflict.

Essential Objectives:

1. Explore the nature of conflict and conflict management.
2. Describe different conflict management processes and their characteristics, including conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation, and nonviolent change.
3. Discuss the connections between conflict, violence, and human nature.
4. Examine the role of ethics in managing conflicts.
5. Interpret and understand personal conflict styles in order to identify roadblocks to communication.
6. Develop strategies for active listening, assertiveness, and cooperation in order to strengthen his/her skills in managing everyday conflict in the workplace and at home.
7. Demonstrate proficiency in speaking through participation in mock conflicts, role playing, presentations, and discussion.
8. Prepare a formal presentation that demonstrates proficiency using the CCV Oral Communication Rubric.

Additional Instructor Pre-Assignments/Notes/Comments:


If you are looking to better understand the nature of conflict, discover your own conflict style, engage in difficult conversations with less stress (and more success!), keep your cool even when you feel really hot, and effectively negotiate for what you want, then this might be a course for you!

This exciting and interactive course will challenge what you think you already know, expand your capacity to analyze low and high-level conflicts, and (hopefully!) deepen your compassion for your fellow human beings To this end, you will learn a few theories of conflict, explore the spectrum of conflict resolution processes, and examine your own personal conflict mode.

This class meets the Communication requirement for most CCV degrees as well as the Vermont State Colleges graduation standard in Oral Communication.

This course is offered as an intensive this semester. This means that though we will only meet for seven (7) weeks; this means that workload will be significant each week (rigorous, but reasonable). Please review this syllabus carefully before you decide to take this course so you understand what will be expected.

There are no prerequisites for this class.

Respect for all voices is paramount; an open mind is essential. Be prepared to be surprised. And be prepared to surprise someone else! This is what makes for a rich and learningful environment!


We will use just two (cheap!) books in this course, as well as many online educational resources through Hartness Library and Open Source materials. Please be sure you have reliable access to high-speed Internet.

Book #1: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In -- ISBN: 978-0143118756

Book #2: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most -- ISBN: 978-0143118442

Please note: You are welcome to purchase these books used or borrow them from a friend or from the library. You're also welcome to listen to audio versions if you prefer.


As an online student, it is your responsibility to learn how to navigate Moodle successfully. To this end, I highly recommend you take advantage the Moodle workshops offered by your local CCV center. Please make sure you are ready for an online class by consulting with your advisor and taking this short assessment:


In addition to running my small mediation and training practice, I am a proud CCV faculty member who has been teaching here for well over 15 years! Some of courses I've taught online and/or face to face include: Conflict Resolution, Intercultural Communication, Effective Workplace Communication, Interpersonal & Small Group Communication, Dimensions of Freedom, Philosophy, Ethics, Bioethics, Contemporary World Literature, Native American Literature, and African American Literature.

I earned an M.S. in Mediation & Applied Conflict Studies from Woodbury College (now Champlain College). I also hold an M.A. in Modern Literature & Culture from The University of York, in England. My B.A. is from Union College, where I majored in English and Philosophy.

Here's what I offer as an instructor:

  • An infectious LOVE of, and knowledge about, life's big questions - and an ability to help students think differently, connect academics to real life, and build meaningful relationships with each other.
  • A sincere commitment to supporting students, as demonstrated by my accessibility (emails always returned within 24hrs - texts welcomed, etc.) and high level of engagement (very active in discussions).
  • First-hand experience as an online student and 10+ years of experience as an online instructor.


This course will rely heavily on experiential learning, which is learning by doing. To this end, general teaching methods may include:

  • Weekly online discussions that ask more than, "What did you think of the reading?" and instead invite you to engage in a variety of exercises and activities meant to inspire meaningful engagement. Sample activities might include: engaging in small group problem-solving initative, case studies, and role plays; interviewing leaders in the field in the field; taking virtual field trips; crafting policy guidelines; debating three sides of an issue; applying conflict theories to specific contemporary controversies; and exploring and defining your own values as they play out in the realm of conflict resolution.
  • Fun and challenging projects that grant you the freedom and flexibility to pursue your own interests and skills-development while simultaneously giving you the chance to apply academic learning to your real life.

As an online class, we will gather virtually - and the success of the experience will rest on your shared commitment to being genuinely present and engaged in the weekly discussion board activities.

In order to foster high particpation, I will make the entire course available to you about one week before the class begins. This will allow you the time and space to plan accordingly!

Each week's module will include the following:

  • An overview of the topic, including essential questions
  • A list of terms (vocabulary) associated with the "language" of conflict resolution
  • Assigned readings and viewings - as well other activities to be completed before the week starts, such as audio recordings, interviews with friends and families, virtual field trips, mini research projects, etc.
  • A discussion forum in which you will discuss that week's topic(s) and engage in small group or whole class activities.
  • A description of the journal topic.

Evaluation Criteria:

Evaluation Criteria (please note that this may change before the start of the semester)

  • Class Participation (Forums): 35%
  • Weekly Journals: 35%
  • Low-Stakes Negotiaton: 5%
  • Difficult Conversations Reflection: 10%
  • Lecturette: 15%

Participation in Weekly Discussion Forums (35%): Each week, you will participate in a discussion forum. You will be graded on the quality of your overall engagement, which will include your first posting as well as the required susequent reply posts you make throughout the week.

Weekly Journals (35%): Each week, you will craft and submit a brief written response (about 200 - 300 words) to a specific question I pose related to the reading/viewing homework.

Low-Stakes Negotiation (5%): You will summarize a low-stakes negotiation you conducted during the term and in which you explicitly applied key course concepts in preparing for and carrying out the negotiation. You may submit this summary in video, audio, or writing.

Difficult Conversations Reflection (10%): In this reflection paper, you will identify a difficult conversation you wish to have with someone and then fully prepare for this conversation using specific strategies from the Difficult Conversations book.

Lecturette (15%): This assignment helps fulfill the VSC oral communication requirement; it is also meant to give you an opportunity to explore a topic of interest we've not covered in the course and then share key information about this topic with your peers. You will prepare and present a video presentation that teaches the class about a topic of your choice related to the vast field of conflict resolution.

Grading Criteria:

Letter Grade Criteria

A through A-: For any work to receive an "A," it must clearly be exceptional or outstanding work. It must demonstrate keen insight and original thinking. It must not only demonstrate full understanding of the topic or issues addressed, but it must also provide a critical analysis of these. In addition, an "A" grade reflects a student's ability to clearly and thoughtfully articulate his or her learning.

B+ through B-: For any work to receive a "B," it must be good to excellent work. It must demonstrate strong originality, comprehension, critical thinking, and attention to detail. In addition, a "B" grade reflects a student's ability to clearly articulate his or her learning.

C+ through C-: For any work to receive a "C," it must meet the expectations of the assignment. It must demonstrate solid comprehension, critical thinking, and attention to detail. In addition, a "C" grade reflects a student's ability to adequately articulate his or her learning.

D+ through D-: For any work to receive a "D," it must marginally meet the expectations of the assignment. It demonstrates minimal comprehension, critical thinking, and attention to detail. In addition, a "D" grade may reflect a student's difficulty in articulating his or her learning.

F: Work that receives an "F" grade does not meet the expectations or objectives of the assignment. It demonstrates consistent problems with comprehension, organization, critical thinking, and supporting details. In addition, an "F" grade reflects a student's inability to articulate his or her learning. Students are strongly urged to discuss this grade with their instructor and advisor.

P: indicates satisfactory completion of course objectives (C- or better).

NP: indicates failure to meet course objectives and/or failure to meet grading criteria for successful completion as described in the instructor's course description.


Fall 2019 textbook data will be available on May 13. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be for this course only. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks.

The last day to use a Financial Aid advance to purchase textbooks is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Contact Faculty:

Email: Amy Beth Kessinger
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jennifer Gundy

Attendance Policy:

Attendance is absolutely required. If you accumulate three absences (or the equivalent thereof), then you will fail this course.


WEEK 1: Introductions & Personal Perspectives on Conflict

  • Introductions!
  • Course Rationale: Why study conflict and conflict resolution?
  • The Nature of Conflict: What is conflict? What causes conflict?
  • Personal Perspectives on Conflict: Conflict Belief Metaphors
  • Values and Beliefs about Conflict: Is conflict acceptable? How should people behave in conflict? Is conflict solvable?
  • "Thirdsider" Roles People Play in Conflict: Provider, Teacher, Bridge-Builder, Mediator, Arbiter, Equalizer, Healer, Witness, Referee & Peacekeeper
  • Skills Building: Craft powerful prompting questions

WEEK 2: Approaches to Managing and Resolving Conflict & The Role of Identity, Values & Perception in Conflicts

  • Conflict Resolution Processes: Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration, Judicial Decision, Legislative Decision, Nonviolent Direct Action & Violence
  • Approaches to Engaging in Conflict: Rights-based approaches, Interest-based approaches, Principle-based approaches, Manipulation-based approaches
  • Conflict Analysis Tools: The Wheel of Conflict. The Human Needs Continuum
  • Values and Beliefs about Conflict: Is conflict acceptable? How should people behave in conflict? Is conflict solvable?
  • Listening: The Listening Process and Listening Styles
  • Skills-Building: Listening Skills and continue practicing asking prompting questions

WEEK 3: How People Conflict & Assessing and Analyzing Conflict

  • How People Conflict: Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Inventory
  • Assessing Conflict: The Wilmot-Hocker Conflict Assessment Model
  • Conflict Analysis Tools: The Wheel of Conflict & The Human Needs Continuum
  • Mediator Skills 101: Paraphrasing, Summarizing, and Reflecting

WEEK 4: The Role of Emotions & Culture in Conflict

  • The Role of Emotions in Conflicts: What are emotions, exactly? And what role do emotions play in conflict management?
  • Culture & Conflict: What is the relationship between culture and conflict?
  • Perception: What role does perception play in a conflict?
  • Mediator Skills 101: Identifying Positions & Interests

WEEK 5: The Role of Power in Conflict and Persuading, Influencing & Negotiating

  • Dimensions of Power: Power as a Dynamic; and Environmental, Relational, and Personal Power
  • Getting to YES Concepts: Develop your BATNA: Understanding your best alternative to a negotiated agreement; making the most of your assets; recognizing the other side's BATNA; formulate a trip wire. AND: Invent Options for Mutual Gain: Separating inventing from deciding; brainstorming; broadening your options; looking for mutual gain.
  • Speaking your mind: Distinguishing assertiveness strategies for confronting with success.

WEEK 6: Justice, Forgiveness & Reconciliation

  • Can there be healing without justice?
  • What is the relationship between freedom, justice, redress?
  • How do national and interpersonal movements towards reconciliation intersect, if at all?
  • What is the difference between restorative and retributive models of justice?
  • Case Study: South Africa's Truth & Reconciliation Commission (documentary)

WEEK 7: Final Projects & Course Synthesis

  • Final Projects are due at the end of the week
  • Conflict Resolution Symposium (share and discuss your lecturettes)
  • Course Synthesis

Please note: In order to receive accommodations for disabilities in this course, students must make an appointment to see the Americans with Disabilities Coordinator in their site and bring documentation with them.

Academic Honesty: CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.

Course description details subject to change. Please refer to this document frequently.

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