Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in Urban Planning and Development

This course introduces students to the practice of negotiation and mediation in the context of urban planning and development. Learning from general theories of negotiation and conflict resolution, students will consider the role of urban designers and planners as mediators and consensus-builders who must reconcile conflicting visions about how the city should be designed and developed. The ability to negotiate solutions and mediate conflicts over land use and urban development policy is becoming a critical aspect of the practice of urban planning and design. In order to implement controversial development projects, urban plans and urban design proposals, planners must be adept at negotiating consensus and agreement among many competing stakeholders. The ability to build consensus and mediate competing interests depends on a mastery of negotiation skills and an understanding of negotiation theory. The major objectives of the course are to: Learn basic negotiation skills; and Develop ability, using these skills, to mediate and resolve conflict over land use, development policy and critical decisions about urban planning and design. Active class participation is essential; the course will be highly interactive, involving a practical \”hands-on\” application of theory and learned skills in simulations and group exercises. In-class simulated negotiation exercises are a central part of the course. Students will participate in a simulated negotiation exercise each class. These exercises, which are structured to isolate and emphasize specific analytic points and essential skills, will progressively build in complexity and difficulty. In addition to simulated negotiation exercises, the teaching format will incorporate case studies, readings, and team projects.The course will be organized as follows: Part One: Negotiation Students will learn basic negotiation and mediation skills, and fundamentals of negotiation analysis through simulated negotiation exercises involving \”conflicts\” over land use, urban design, and development decisions which lend themselves to resolution through the design process. Part one builds cumulatively from simple 2-party, single-issue negotiations to those of greater complexity involving multi-party, multi-issue cases. Part Two: Conflict Resolution In the second half of the semester, they will apply these learned skills to complex, multi-party negotiations and conflicts concerning land use planning, major urban design initiatives, and controversial real estate development projects in the second half of the semester. Students will also explore the use of the consensus building process, mediation, and participatory planning as a form of \”public negotiation\”.