In March, the newly expanded Institute had the good fortune to host Jay Rothman as its first visiting scholar. Students, faculty, and the local conflict resolution community all benefited tremendously by having Dr. Rothman in residence at the Institute. Conflict Resolution students, who had studied Rothman's Resolving Identity-Based Conflict in Prof. Karen Feste's core class held each Fall quarter, had the opportunity to learn directly from the famous scholar-practitioner when he offered a special concentrated seminar. CRI's first scholar-in-residence also gave a public talk about his ARIA method and his work, a special "lab" using his method on cases, and a presentation at the monthly faculty work-in-progress lunch series.
Jay Rothman, Ph.D., is president of the ARIA Group, Inc., a conflict resolution training and consulting company. He is also founder and Research Director of the Action Evaluation Research Institute, an action research program designed to provide research, training and technical assistance. Rothman is the author or co-author of three books, including Resolving Identity-Based Conflict in Nations,
Organizations and Communities (Jossey-Bass, 1997) as well as over two dozen articles on identity-based conflict, conflict resolution, and evaluation. He has consulted, led workshops, and conducted interventions in more than a dozen countries including South Africa, Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, and Sri Lanka.
Click here to learn more about Rothman's work with the ARIA group. Rothman's ARIA method, named to invoke musical metaphors of dissonance and harmony, moves participants in conflict through four steps: Antagonism, Resonance, Invention, and Action. Rothman's theory holds that before the conflict can be addressed productively, parties must share their emotions and air differences through the antagonism phase.
Once participants have truly heard each other they've reached a common space—resonance. Only then, when they can feel that the problem is theirs together to solve, can they investigate solutions, or invent possible outcomes. The invention stage also continues to build resonance. Finally, they're ready to implement a solution and take action.
A further evaluation of the ARIA approach is the ARIA-C3 method, a participatory and collaborative planning and social change process. The "C3" indicates the triple objectives for participants to understand about themselves and each other: "what," "why," and "how." (See box at right for a case of this method in practice.) In the seminar, students both experienced and learned how to lead an ARIA-C3 method workshop. The group used the method to reach consensus on its goals for the workshop, then spent the rest of the time fine-tuning how the ARIAC3 process can be applied to various conflicts. Students commented that the workshop-seminar tangibly melded theory and practice.
Rothman also presented a public talk in a crowded Renaissance Room South on an unusually rainy night. The large crowd included students, alums, and conflict
resolution practitioners from the greater Denver/Boulder metro area. He discussed the ARIA-C3 method and its application in the Cincinnati Police-Community Relations Collaborative (see box). Rothman led attendees through a brief demonstration of the "why" portion of his question statement which allows participants to better recognize the reasons behind their passionate involvement in an issue that may be conflictual.
Rothman's visit inspired both students and faculty to see the richness of information for learning that is generated by community processes through the ARIA approach. Communities have greater capacities to identify and pursue their common goals, and students of community relations and conflict resolution have tools to better understand and guide such community collaborations. "Data" needn't seem stale and intimidating, but instead can provide insight and empowerment for communities and students alike.