Project Areas
The Field of Public Dispute Resolution
Learning Opportunites
Teaching Resources
Best Practice
About PDP
Contact Us
Project Areas
Strategies for Enhancing Public Engagement

Indigenous People’s Project

Practice of Public Dispute Resolution

Multiparty Negotiation

U.S. Engagement with the Muslim World Project

Environmental Treaty-making System

Joint Fact Finding

Mediation Ethics

Environmental Justice

Conflict Resolution in Developing Countries


Project Areas

New: New Strategies for Enhancing Public Engagement, Ensuring the Responsive of Elected Representatives, Promoting Collaborative Decision-making, and Resolving Public Disputes.

Democratic decisionmaking, as we know it in the United States, is still under development. Over the past forty years, we have expanded the role of civil society by moving beyond the minimum constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to lobby and seek redress. Now, government (at every level) invites not just experts but stakeholders of all kinds to participate in advisory groups and collaborative decision-making. We now expect multiple opportunities for deliberation, including policy dialogues, joint fact finding, community visioning, consensus building, and mediated decisionmaking. These new civic engagement strategies must be examined carefully through close reflection, comparative analysis, and purposeful experimentation. PDP is involved in just such evaluative efforts in a number of policy arenas.

At the local level, in conjunction with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, we are examining new techniques of resolving land use disputes. At the state level, with support from the Rappaport Institute at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, we continue to examine facility siting, housing and growth management strategies. At the national level, we have been involved in national consensus building efforts on energy policy and we are hoping to be involved in water policy and decisions about how best to respond to the impacts of climate change

Related Links and Publications:
Breaking Robert's Rules: The New Way to Run Your Meeting, Build Consensus, and Get Results, Lawrence E. Susskind, and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, Oxford University Press, 2007.
The Cure for Our Broken Political Process: How We Can Get Our Politicians to Resolve the Issues Tearing Our Country Apart. Sol Erdman and Lawrence E. Susskind, Potomac Books, 2008
11.969 Workshop on Deliberative Democracy and Dispute Resolution, Summer 2005
Can Public Policy Dispute Resolution Meet the Demands Set by Deliberative Democracy?” Susskind, Dispute Resolution Magazine. (Winter 2006)
Resolving Public Disputes

Indigenous People’s Project: Addressing the Land Claims of Indigenous Peoples around the world; Exploring the use of Traditional Peacemaking Techniques to Resolve Natural Resource Management Disputes

PDP in conjunction with the MIT Human Rights and Justice Program and the Consensus Building Institute continues to explore ways of addressing the needs of indigenous peoples around the world, particularly with regard to their demands for self-government, control of their borders, the right to use their natural resources as they see fit, and the right to take whatever actions are required to preserve their cultural identity. What rules ought to govern the interaction between quasi-autonomous peoples and the dominant democratic states in which they live? And, in advanced western democracies, how can the tools of peacemaking and consensus building be used to resolve the conflicts that threaten the survival of aboriginal peoples? PDP is working with DINE, Inc. – tribal leaders in Navajo Nation – to explore ways of applying traditional peacemaking tools to resolve natural resource management disputes, particularly disagreements regarding the development of coal-fired power plants, extraction and processing of uranium, allocation of scarce water supplies, resolution of long-standing land claims that have stymied sorely needed infrastructure investment, and the prospect of investing in renewable energy on the reservation.

Related Links and Publications:

Addressing the Land Claims of Indigenous Peoples Lawrence Susskind and Isabelle Anguelovski
MIT Program on Human Rights and Justice

The Practice of Public Dispute Resolution: Measuring the Dollar Value of the Field

Public dispute resolution occupies an important space within the broader practice of conflict management. Professional public dispute mediators have helped to resolve disagreements over the allocation of scarce resources, the setting of standards, and the making of choices over policy priorities at the local, state, and national levels for almost thirty years. The purpose of this article is to provide a current snapshot of the field. The article looks at a small group of leaders in the field -- not a representative sample but a weighted set of individuals and organizations whose efforts indicate what is happening in the field as a whole. One goal was to tally the amount of revenue that this relatively small group generates. The authors hoped that their findings would show that, by any financial standard, the field is much bigger than you have imagined and consequently worthy of the investments of time, effo t, and money that a more rigorous economic analysis would require.

Related Links and Publications:


Survey Results:
Firms :: Individuals

Multiparty Negotiation

We are developing the theory of multi-party negotiation as a distinct sub-field in the negotiation field. s.

Related Links and Publications:
What We Have Learned About Teaching Multiparty Negotiation Lawrence Susskind, Robert Mnookin, Lukasz Rozdeiczer, and Boyd Fuller, Negotiation Journal, Volume 21, Issue 3, Page 395-408, Jul 2005.
Teaching Multiparty Negotiation Conference Summary
Teaching Multiparty Negotiation Workbook
Multiparty Negotiation Lawrence E. Susskind and Larry Crump. SAGE Publishing, Ltd. 2008.

U.S. Engagement with the Muslim World Project

Click here fore more information about the project.

Strengthening the International Environmental Treaty-making System

The convention-protocol approach to global environmental treaty-making often falls short. Our focus is on building more ambitious and self-enforcing regimes. We continue to work with international agencies, clusters of developing countries and regional coalitions (including non-governmental actors) to experiment with new forms of Multistakeholder Dialogue and Parallel Informal Negotiation.

Related Links and Publications:

Papers on International Environmental Negotiation, Volume XVI: Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Treaty-making System, Susskind and Moomaw, Program on Negotiation, 2007
Transboundary Environmental Negotiation, Susskind, Moomaw and Gallagher, Jossey-Bass, 2002.
Papers on International Environmental Negotiation, Volume XVII: On the Road to Copenhagen, Susskind and Moomaw, Program on Negotiation, 2009.
Strengthening the Global Environmental Treaty System Lawrence E. Susskind, Issues in Science and Technology, Fall 2008.

Joint Fact Finding: The Key to Mediating Science-Intensive Policy Disputes

In conjunction with the Science Impact Program of the United States Geological Survey and the Consensus Building Institute, PDP has developed an advanced training program on Joint Fact Finding that examines the best possible ways of ensuring that scientific and technical information is incor-porated most effectively in the mediation of public disputes. The theory and practice of joint fact finding are explained in Susskind, McKearnan and Thomas-Larmer, Consensus Building Handbook, Sage, 1999.

Related Links and Publications:

Consensus Building Handbook, Sage, 1999
MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative (MUSIC).
A DIALOGUE, NOT A DIATRIBE. Effective Integration of Science and Policy through Joint Fact Finding. Karl, Susskind, and Wallace Enviornment, Jan/Feb 2007.


Mediation Ethics

PDP faculty and staff continue to develop the idea of activist mediation and explore the ethical obligations of mediators operating in multi-issue, multi-party settings. See the new PDP monograph by Alexis Gensberg entitled Mediating Inequality: Mediator's Perspectives on Disputes Characterized by Significant Power Imbalances.

Using Consensus Building Tools to Address Environmental Justice Claims

In conjunction with the U.S. EPA's Office of Environmental Justice, the Consensus Building Institute and Justice and Sustainability Associates, PDP has been working to explore ways in which consensus building strategies can be used to address the needs of environmentally overburdened communities, particular poor communities of color.

Related Links and Publications:
Consensus Building Institute
Using Dispute Resolution Techniques to Address Environmental Justice Claims: Case Studies, U.S. EPA, 2003.


Building Conflict Resolution Institutions in Developing Countries

PDP in conjunction with the Consensus Building Institute is assisting university-based, NGO, public agency and business partners in Israel, the Philippines, Nepal, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador to build their capacity to resolve public disputes. On the supply side, PDP is training individuals to improve their conflict assessment, process design and facilitation skills; assisting institutions in developing policies, guidelines and strategies for acting as convenors in public conflict situa-tions; and developing regional networks of public conflict mediators. On the demand side, PDP is helping our partners raise public awareness of the need for and the opportunity to resolve public conflicts in new ways; advising internation-al development agencies on ways to support consensus building activities; and training trainers to provide negotia-tion skills. See the forthcoming PDP monograph by David Fairman entitled Building Conflict Resolution Capacity in Developing Countries: Supply, Demand and the Role of International Partners.