Academic Programs 
      

Congregational Conflict Resolution    (AM-662)
January Interession and Winter/Spring 2009

How we respond to differences and to conflict in congregations and other organizations can help to sustain health and vitality within the congregation even in turbulent times. In this course, we will explore practical theories for understanding congregational conflict as well as looking at various practices of conflict transformation. Students will be expected to do some reflection on their own styles (using a few inventories) as well as discerning different levels of conflict and ways of responding. We will also use practices of dialogue and deliberation for interpersonal, small group and congregational settings.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Tuesdays, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., on Jan. 27, Feb. 10, March 3, March 31, and April 28

Lawrence Peers

Adjunct Professor of Arts of Ministry and consultant and seminar leader with the Alban Institute, Herndon, VA

Contact Information:
phone:

email:

 

Course Syllabus



Course Overview:

How we respond to differences and to conflict in congregations and other organizations can help to sustain health and vitality within the congregation even in turbulent times.

In this course, we will explore practical theories for understanding congregational conflict as well as looking at various perspectives and practices of conflict transformation. Students will be expected to do some reflection on their own styles (using a few inventories) as well as discerning different levels of conflict and ways of responding. We will also explore the practices of dialogue and mediation for interpersonal, small group and congregational settings. Through our inquiry as a learning group and as individual reflective-practitioners, individual students are expected to develop a perspective and practices that will guide their leadership through the inevitable situations of difference, change and conflict in congregations or other organizational settings.

Rev. Dr. Lawrence Peers is an Adjunct Professor of Arts of Ministry and a Senior Consultant and seminar leader with the Alban Institute, Herndon, VA. I live in Boston, MA. You may contact me at my office phone at: 617-323-9606 or by e-mail at: lppeers@earthlink.net. Please put “Hartford Seminary:” in the subject line of your email. Although I will not have regular office hours at Hartford Seminary, please feel free to contact me by email or phone as the need for further conversation arises.

Course Objectives
a. To explore the landscape of theoretical and practical approaches to conflict within congregational and other organizational settings.
b. To provide opportunities for students to reflect upon their own tendencies and approaches to conflict situations so that students can become aware of their own “use of self” and determine specific developmental goals for their leadership
c. To utilize different perspectives on conflict (organizational development, structural approaches, emotional systems, narrative mediation, etc.) as a way to broaden the interpretive lens and the practical responses to difference and conflict.
d. To discern the personal, interpersonal and faith resources that enable religious leaders to provide the presence and guidance necessary not only to resolve but to work toward the transformation of conflict.

Procedure
Our first session will provide a theoretical and practical launching of our inquiry into conflict in congregations and into the necessity of a “conflict competent leader.” As we proceed, we will also build upon the learning goals of the participants in this course in order provide a cooperative inquiry approach to our study.

The five class sessions require learners to come to the class prepared to build upon their reading and reflections prior to the class through further engagement in the lectures, activities and class discussion. Reflection papers more than a review of the readings also demonstrate a critical dialogue between theory, text and the context of one’s own religious or organizational leadership. These reflection papers are due to the professor by the dates listed in the syllabus below. A final integration paper will focus the cumulative learning of the student by providing both a theoretical and practice-oriented exploration of a topic related to the student’s own leadership role, context and/or interests. Specific instructions for the short (2-3 pages) reflection papers will be outlined in the first session.
In order to provide the safe environment in which participants can also be the “subject” of their study, we will establish ground rules (such as confidentiality) that contribute to a learning environment that can utilize the lived experience and the context of the student’s leadership, when appropriate.

Schedule of Reading and Papers:
(a) Reading: In order for the student to participate fully in the discussion topics within each of our comprehensive class sessions, the assigned reading is to be done prior to the class.
(b) Papers: There are three short reflection papers (2-3 pages) due on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class sessions. A brief (1-2 page) description of your final integration paper is requested by the 4th class (March 31). A final integration paper (10-15 pages) is due on May 12th.

January 27, 2009, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm:
Topic: Congregational Conflict: The Landscape of Perspectives, Practices and Experiences

  • Prior to class reading: Sawyer, David. Hope in Conflict. (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2007.), especially Chapters 1 & 2.

February 10, 2009, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Reading:
Topic: Conflict and the Emotional System of the Congregation and Leader

  • Reading: Sawyer, David. Hope in Conflict. (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2007.), Chapters : 3- 7. and Steinke, Peter, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times. (Herndon, VA: the Alban Institute.)
  • Writing: Reflection Paper One (2-3 pages): Due by February 10, 2009 on Sawyer and Steinke.

March 3, 2009, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Topic: The Conflict Competent Leader

  • Reading: Runde, Craig and Tim A. Flanagan. Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007
  • Writing: Reflection Paper Two (2-3 pages) due by March 3: Application of the “Conflict Dynamics” theory to your own leadership development, perspective or practices.
  • Optional Assignment: Take the Conflict Dynamics Profile available only from the professor for $30 (instructions to be given at February 10th class).

March 31, 2009, 9:00-4:00
Topic: Conflict and Story: Narrative Mediation Approach

  • Reading: Winslade, John and Gerald Monk. Narrative Mediation: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001.)
    (continued)
  • Writing Reflection Paper Three (2-3) Critical reflection on narrative mediation approach and application to your own leadership practice. Due by March 31, 2009.
  • Draft (1-2 pages) of final paper idea with bibliography, due March 31.

April 28, 2009, 9:00 am-4:00 pm:
Topic: Conflict: Peril and Promise
Reading: Brubaker, David. Promise and Peril: Understanding and Managing Change and Conflict in Congregations. (Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2009-to be published in January 2009.)

• Integration Paper (10-15 pages): Due by May 12, 2009.

Required Reading
Five required texts will be the basis for the four discussion topic periods in class, and will also contribute in various ways to other assignments throughout the semester.

  1. Sawyer, David. Hope in Conflict. (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2007.)
  2. Steinke, Peter, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times. (Herndon, VA: the Alban Institute.)
  3. Runde, Craig and Tim A. Flanagan. Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.
  4. Winslade, John and Gerald Monk. Narrative Mediation: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001.)
  5. Brubaker, David. Promise and Peril: Understanding and Managing Change and Conflict in Congregations. (Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2009-to be published in January 2009.)


Self-Assessment Inventories:
In addition to the required reading, students will be invited to take two conflict instruments for their own learning and self-assessment (i.e., not to be part of the course evaluation by the professor.) These are:

(a) Discover Your Conflict Management Style which will be provided in the first class and

(b) the Conflict Dynamics Profile (only available from the professor, a certified instructor of the CDP, for $30). This profile is recommended but is optional.

Recommended Topical Reading: (Additional resources that will be referred to in the course and that provide optional student’s interest):

A. Leadership and Consulting in Conflict Situations

  1. Heifetz, Ronald and Marty Linsky. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)
  2. Gerzon, Mark, Leading Through Conflict: How successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School, 2006.)
  3. Gopin, Mark. Healing the Heart of Conflict: Eight Crucial Steps to Making Peace with Yourself and Others. (Rodale, 2004.)
  4. Halverstadt, Hugh. Managing Church Conflict. (Louisville, KY: Westminster,/John Knox Press, 1991.)
  5. Leas, Speed. Managing Your Church Through Conflict. www.alban.org, digital download.

B. Mediation, Dialogue and Communication

6. Ury, William. The Third Side. (New York: Penguin Books, 2000.)
7. Phelps, Joseph. More Light, Less Heat: How Dialogue Can Transform Christian Conflicts into Growth. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.).
8. Rosenberg, Marshall. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. (Encitas, CA: Puddle Dancer Press, 2005.)
9. Patterson, Kerry, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations and Bad Behavior. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005)

C. Pastoral Leadership and Conflict

10. Satterlee, Craig. When God Speaks Through Change: Preaching in Times of Congrgational Transition. (Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2005.)

D. Congregational Health

11. Goodman, Denise. Congregational Fitness: Healthy Practices for Layfolk. (Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2000.)
12. Rendle, Gil. Behavioral Covenants for Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences. (Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 1999.)
13. Bookman, Terry and William Kahn. This House We Buiild: Lessons for healthy Synagogues and the People Who Dwell There. (Herndon, VA: the Alban Institute, 2007).

Class participation 25% of grade
Attendance at and active participation in every class session is expected of all students. Exceptions are only allowed if advance permission has been granted by the instructor, and only for unavoidable absences.

Writing assignments 30% of grade
Completion of all of the minor writing assignments (i.e., the three reflection papers) is essential to advance the learning in this course. All writing assignments must be handed in at the class session for which they are assigned.

Final paper 45% of grade
The final paper integrates the knowledge (both theoretical and practical) that the student has gained through the inquiry in this course. Details for the final paper, including focus and format, will be provided at the March 3rd class session. Final papers must be sent by e-mail to the instructor by May 12, 2009.

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