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History of PDP


PDP is based at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (PON). PON is an inter-university consortium (Harvard, MIT, and Tufts) devoted to improving the theory and practice of dispute resolution. It was created in the early 1980s to make it easier for scholars from a variety of disciplines to work together and for scholars and practitioners to interact more effectively.

PON has eight component projects under its umbrella. Several deal with international conflict (i.e. war and peace). Some deal with issues in the workplace. One focuses on business negotiations of various kinds. PDP is the project at PON that deals most directly with public policy disputes within countries.

Many of the students and faculty who work with PDP are also based in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT -one of the three departments in the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within that department, there is a group focused on environmental policy (called the Environmental Policy Group or EPG). EPG is headed by Professor Susskind who is also co-director of PDP. Many EPG graduate students work simultaneously at PDP while completing their graduate studies.

Some of the graduate students working on PDP projects are graduate students at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University. In addition, to focusing on the best ways of resolving public disputes within countries, PDP has also worked for many years on strategies for building consensus within the "global treaty-making system." Fletcher students, under the direction of PDP Co-director, Professor William Moomaw, bring a wealth of experience in international law and diplomatic practice to this work.

While PDP intervenes in the world in various ways, it is basically an applied research operation. Our goal is to build "grounded theory" through careful reflection on practice. While we take on actual dispute resolution assignments from time to time, we are not a consulting organization and our goal is primarily theory-building (although as our colleague Roger Fisher likes to say, "There is nothing so practical as a good theory!"). To apply the ideas developed at PON and PDP effectively, PDP's directors and other senior colleagues created the Consensus Building Institute (CBI). CBI is a not-for-profit organization, established in 1993, that provides dispute resolution and collaboration services around the world. CBI has a full time staff of 16 and a global network of senior consultants. CBI is led by two Managing Directors, both of whom are Associate Directors of PDP - David Fairman and Patrick Field.

The web page links to PON, EPG, Fletcher and CBI will allow you to find out more about the organizational connections described above.