Conflict is a fundamental dynamic of human experience and interaction. It is the necessary struggle to balance concern for self with connections to others. Because pain, suffering, and stress are deeply associated with our perception of conflict, we tend to regard conflict as a destructive or destablizing force.
Seen from another perspective, however, conflict is one of the most life-affirming forces in nature. Without conflict, children would not develop into normal human beings. Without conflict, literature and the performing arts would be dull and insignificant. Without conflict, we would live in a rather uneventful and humorless world. The challenge for all of us and the purpose of this program is to understand and experience conflict as an important, unavoidable, and generally useful life force.
Fall quarter we explored and analyze conflict from the perspective of the individual. Winter quarter we will shift our focus to the community. We will draw on a variety of sources—among them the arts, current events and politics, work and the business environment, forms of play—to learn about the nature of conflict and its role in society. The program format will include lectures, seminars (class and online), as well as active learning in the form of workshops, exercises, as group and individual presentations, and field trips to performances. We will focus on clarity in oral and written communication, critical analysis, and the ability to work across disciplines and significant differences.
A significant portion of this program is online. In order to be successful, students must be able to work independently.
What is conflict and how does it appear in nature as a biological force? As a characteristic of civil society—in law, politics, culture?
What can we learn from dramatic conflict (in books, plays, films, for example) and how does it reflect real life conflict?
What is the difference between internal vs. external conflict? What strategies are available for resolving/managing conflict at work and in the family?
What role does diversity (gender, race, culture, generation, religion, socio-economic status, etc.) play in conflict?
What is the role of conflict in personal growth and development? How can “embracing conflict” contribute to my personal growth and development?
2 credits — psychology of conflict
2 credits — conflict management
4 credits — expressive arts