George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

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Conflict Analysis and Resolution Courses (CONF)



Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Unless otherwise noted, all nondepartmental majors require permission of the instructor to register for CONF classes.

501 Introduction to Conflict Analysis and Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisite or corequisite for all M.S. and Ph.D. CONF majors. Introduces the field of conflict analysis and resolution. Definitions of conflict and diverse views of its "resolution" are examined. The course explores thinking about human behavior and social systems as they relate to the origins of conflict and to the role of conflict in violent and peaceful social change. Appropriate responses to conflict at interpersonal, intergroup, industrial, communal, and international levels are considered.

601 Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Examines major social scientific theories of conflict. Emphasis is on the need for theories to inform our ability to resolve conflict. The course weaves ideas from conventional disciplines with new approaches especially to causes of deep-rooted conflict. Focus is on analysis as a tool.

609 War, Violence, and Conflict Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Considers various theories of violent conflict, its causes and conditions, at all levels, but particularly at the societal and international levels: family/domestic violence, religious and ethnic conflict, terrorism, revolution, and warfare. Insights gained from the study of initiation and escalation of conflict processes are then linked with theory and practice in the resolution of deep-rooted conflicts.

610 Philosophy and Methods of Conflict Research (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Introduces applied research design in the analysis and resolution of conflict. The course includes philosophy of science, the definition of problems in need of solution, and various research techniques dealing with the generation, collection, processing, analysis, and interpretation of data. Overall objectives include enhancing students' skills in designing and implementing research projects dealing with conflict initiation, escalation, management, and resolution.

613 Laboratory and Simulation I: Interpersonal and Intergroup Conflict (4:3:1). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Surveys the skills and processes useful for conflict resolution, including learning to be a good observer/listener, to develop "hearing" and empathy skills. Although skills suit all levels of conflict, cases for demonstration will focus mainly on interpersonal conflict. The course provides opportunities for students to share past personal experiences in conflict resolution, and to begin to analyze these experiences.

617 Cross­Cultural Analysis of Conflict (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Introduces techniques of participant observation and anthropological research. The course provides insights into cross-cultural fieldwork experience, an important skill for facilitators working with groups outside their own "world view." This course is highly recommended for students interested not only in understanding diverse groups, but in gaining first-hand insights into the wide variation in world views and values understandings held by different people.

620 Law and Jurisprudence in Conflict Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Contrasts legal processes and institutions with alternative approaches to dispute resolution. The course defines and distinguishes between law, "alternative dispute resolution," and problem-solving analysis as methods for resolving rather than controlling conflict. The course explores to what extent legal procedures are truly applicable to resolving deep-rooted conflict.

621 Ethnic and Cultural Factors in Conflict Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 501. Examines the role culture plays in the genesis, structuring, and resolution of processes of conflict within and between groups. Special attention is given to ethnicity and other subcultural markers of identity in complex social systems as both the generators and outcomes of conflict. The relevance of these variables to the success or failure of conflict resolution is explored.

623 Laboratory and Simulation II: Organizational and Community Conflict (4:3:1). Prerequisites: CONF 501 and 613. Moves from conflicts that are simply described to those with multilevel components, such as community and organizational conflicts. This course expands the skills acquired in 613 by adding the following: conflict analysis, group process design, facilitation, multiparty dialogue, and joint problem solving.

633 Laboratory and Simulation III: International and Intercommunal Conflict (4:3:1). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 613, and 623, or permission of instructor. Continues the study of resolution processes as applied to highly complex systems, especially where one party denies the legitimacy of existing political authority. The course considers third-party options for intervening in revolutionary and international conflicts, means for building communication and trust among parties, and implementing agreements.

635 Structural Sources of Conflict (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501 and 601. Examines how structures and institutions affect behavior and give rise to conflictual relationships at all social levels, from the interpersonal to the international. The role of conflict resolution as a political process providing opportunities for nonviolent system change is explored.

636 Third­Party Roles, Resources, and Ethics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 613, and 623 or 633. Analyzes and critiques the nature and roles of third parties in conflicts. Theoretical perspectives and case histories are used to understand the settings in which third parties may operate. The course covers roles as mediator, conciliator, arbitrator, and facilitator, and types of intellectual and other resources third parties may bring to conflicts. Ethical assessment of third-party interventions in a variety of conflict settings is also covered.

642 Integration of Theory and Practice (3:3:0). Taken in the last semester of master's-level course work. Assists graduating students in "bringing it all together": synthesizing prior course work in terms of theory and research; and practice as background to developing an integrated multilevel theory of conflict initiation, escalation, and resolution, which is then applied to case studies at different levels. Students play an active role in course development.

690 Practicum in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (two semesters) (3:3:0). Prerequisites or corequisites: CONF 501, 613, 623, 633, and permission of instructor. Involves students in an in-depth field study of an ongoing conflict situation and in intervention processes undertaken to manage or resolve that conflict.

694 Internship (3:3:0). Prerequisite: 21 hours of prior course work, including 613 and 623. CONF 633 is recommended. Involves working at least 160 hours on a project under the direction of the internship coordinator and exploring the study and/or resolution of conflict. Students are expected to mesh theory and practice through observation and experience. The course requires a comprehensive report analyzing the student's experience.

695 Special Topics in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501 and permission of instructor. Comprises a number of optional courses conducted each semester. Course content varies depending on interests of instructors and students.

697 Directed Reading (1-3:0:0). Independent reading at the master's level on a specific topic related to conflict analysis and resolution as agreed to by the student and a faculty member.

799 Thesis (two semesters) (3:0:0). Prerequisite: Approved proposal. Requires original research under the direction of a thesis committee.

802 Theories of the Person (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 601, and acceptance in the doctoral program, or permission of instructor. Explores understanding of "human nature" as the first task of the student of human conflict. This course reviews and critiques various theories about the nature of the person and the needs all humans have as social beings, thus building a framework for analyzing, and perhaps one day predicting, broad aspects of behavior.

803 Theories of Social Change (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 601, and acceptance in the doctoral program, or permission of instructor. Understanding social conflict and the potential for conflict resolution requires that both conflict and cooperation be perceived in relationship to patterns of social change. This course reviews and critiques significant theories of social change to establish a basis for creative conflict analysis and resolution.

810 The Philosophy of the Social Sciences (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 601, and acceptance in the doctoral program, or permission of instructor. Provides a philosophical inquiry into the structure of world views and the building of testable scientific hypotheses. This course assumes that the ways we think as human beings and the ways we build and test our theories about the world are closely linked. The course explores and critiques the thinking of major 20th-century thinkers on this topic, thus forming an introduction to research methodology.

811 Research Methods I (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 810, and acceptance in the doctoral program, or permission of instructor. (Note: A prior course in intermediate statistics is required.) Building on the logic of inquiry, this course introduces students to the steps in the research process needed to prepare a dissertation and implement published research. The course covers a wide array of quantitative and qualitative research approaches used in the social sciences with an emphasis on conflict analysis.

812 Research Methods II (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 810, 811, and acceptance in the doctoral program, or permission of instructor. (Note: Successful completion of CONF 811 is required.) This course is a continuation of steps in the research process needed to prepare a dissertation and implement published research. It covers a wide array of quantitative and qualitative research approaches used in the social sciences with an emphasis on conflict analysis.

820 Crime and Conflict Resolution (3:3:0). Prerequisite: CONF 801 or permission of instructor. Explores the usefulness of conflict analysis and resolution perspectives in analyzing the causes, nature, and consequences of criminal behavior, and alternative approaches to the crime problem.

840 Mediating and Transforming Policy Conflict (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 501, 601, and acceptance in doctoral program, or permission of instructor. Analyzes conflicts involving the formation and implementation of social policy. The course explores development of ways of framing, reflecting, and reframing conflicts over public policy. It also analyzes the roles of mediation and other interventions in policy conflicts in the public, private, and citizens' sectors.

850 Conflict Termination: Dynamics of the Peace Process (3:3:0). Conducts an analytical study of the nature of the "peace process" in terminating international, transnational, and civil conflicts. The course analyzes parties' decision-making procedures during processes of deescalation, prebargaining, and negotiation. It also examines the impact of various third-party roles (mediator, conciliator, facilitator) on the overall process, including implementation and monitoring of agreements. Efforts to terminate such conflicts as the Iran-Iraq war, the Cyprus dispute, and the Eritrean conflict are investigated as exemplary case studies.

890 Practicum in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (two semesters) (3:3:0). Prerequisites or corequisites: CONF 501, 613, and 623 or 633, and permission of instructor. Involves students in an in-depth field study of an ongoing conflict situation and of intervention processes undertaken to manage or resolve that conflict.

897 Directed Reading (1-3:0:0). Independent reading at the doctoral level on a specific topic related to conflict and conflict resolution as agreed to by the student and a faculty member.

900 Integrating Theory and Method in Conflict Analysis (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 801, 802, and at least nine more credits in the doctoral core program. Analyzes the theoretical basis undergirding the methods of research in conflict resolution. The course explores how theory is built through the reciprocal influence of research and practice.

901 Theory Development (3:3:0). Prerequisites: CONF 801, 802, and 900, or permission of instructor. Examines recent developments in theory and research in conflict analysis, with particular emphasis on project and dissertation work recently undertaken and completed. The purpose of the course is to link ongoing research in this and parallel fields to students' own plans for dissertation work, and examine methodological approaches as well as the direction and focus of current, substantive research.

998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Successful completion of all course work and doctoral qualifying examinations. Work on a research proposal that forms the basis for a doctoral dissertation. May be repeated for up to six hours total credit toward the degree.

999 Doctoral Dissertation Research (Credits vary. At least six credits must be taken toward the degree.) Research on an approved dissertation topic under the direction of a committee. (Note: At least 12 credits of 998 and 999 must be accumulated toward the degree.)


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