Truth, Justice and compassion are often the only bulwarks against ruthless power. Aung San Suu Kyi
about us contact us admissions graduate degreee program center for research & practice faculty resources

about us

Directors’ Welcome About Conflict Resolution History of the Institute Institute Mission & Vision

What is Conflict Resolution?

Conflict resolution is focused on moving conflict presentation and escalation to solution. The approach emphasizes processes of behavior used to assist in this transformation to help commit disputing parties to mutually acceptable positions and to build and enlarge relationships of trust among them.

Conflict resolution examines environmental and contextual aspects of social relations in confronting problem solving as well as the tactic used to transform intractable disputes between parties, and on developing new directions of social cooperation.

The emerging field of conflict resolution was one of the major intellectual influences leading to the establishment of the United States Institute of Peace in 1984. By an act of Congress, such an institution "would be the most efficient and immediate means for the Nation to enlarge its capacity to promote the peaceful resolution of international conflict."

Resolution is at the heart of the mission of peacefully coming to terms with conflict issues. A conflict may be said to be resolved when all the parties freely accept a solution that has the following characteristics: by joint agreement, the solution satisfies the interests and needs underlying the conflict; the solution does not sacrifice any party's important values; the parties will not wish to repudiate the solution even if they are in a position to do so later; the solution meets the standards of justice and fairness; the solution is sufficiently advantageous to all the parties that it becomes self-supporting or self-enforcing.

Any party's stance toward a given conflict depends largely on variables such as ideology, power, and goals. Low-power groups generally do not call for conflict resolution or peace; they want empowerment, change, and justice. Their more typical approach is to agitate conflict. More powerful parties are more likely to deter, suppress, repress, or control conflict. Third-party interveners may aim to resolve, manage, regulate, or settle conflicts, whereas academics analyze, teach, and predict.

The growth in awareness of the range of issues relevant for conflict resolution parallels an increased understanding of the variety of bargaining and negotiation skills required to facilitate the resolution process, sensitivity to the natures of parties involved, and mastery of the substance of the conflict.

Our interdisciplinary program in Conflict Resolution is designed to provide you with a balance across theoretical perspectives, case studies, and practical applications of bargaining strategies; various types of dispute resolution and negotiation techniques; and related ethical issues in a range of social environments where conflict arises, such as:

The Political Arena: from international diplomacy to national election debates

The Business Arena: from corporate boardroom strategy to management-worker relations

The Personal Arena: from school counseling to family feuds.

Return to top