Cross-Cultural Conflict and Dispute Resolution

The course examines how obvious and not-so-obvious cultural differences impact resolution of interpersonal and interstate (international) disputes. Specifically, the course will bring an international perspective to understanding the impact of culture in the most commonly used international and domestic dispute resolution practices (negotiation and mediation).

This course also surveys the impact that cultural differences, stereotypes, and attributions have on key dispute resolution processes and on conflict generally. It is designed to build theoretical knowledge, to equip students with an analytical framework useful in determining suitable dispute resolution processes, and to instill practical skills and strategies to enhance effectiveness in cross-cultural contexts.

Cultural differences in language, customs, values, legal systems, and worldviews are examined along various dimensions: orientation toward the individual or the collective community; importance of career success over quality of life; deference to authority; long- vs. short-term orientation; extent to which expectations for behavior are implicit or express; perceptions of time and personal space; and aversion to risk.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Practice negotiation and mediation techniques by engaging in role-playing exercises.
  • Practice legal writing skills and demonstrate an understanding of dispute resolution theory through preparation of an original research paper addressing a topic related to cross-cultural conflict and dispute resolution.