David Laws (Ph.D. 1998, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam . Before coming to Amsterdam , he worked at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Sloan School of Management at MIT and with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School . His research focuses on the relationship between negotiation and conflict resolution, public administration, and democratic governance. He has worked as a consultant for the New York Stock Exchange, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Air National Guard, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Ministry of VROM.
Opportunities and challenges in Public Mediation
The Netherlands has a well known tradition in alternative conflict resolution. 'Polderen' is the practice that acknowledges interdependence and seeks compromise among stakeholders. The methods of groups like the SER are familiar; wise men who represent different stakeholder groups seeking a way to bargain their way to a creative compromise.
This tradition of 'polderen' is under pressure. The role of the government and its relationship to other stakeholders is changing. More and more citizens are organising themselves for direct action and even seeking different ways to offer public services. They are willing to challenge expertise and other sources of authority. They protest against government policies and plans and are adapt at using the stage and the organizational capacity that social media provide. These conflicts with the government, and with each other, develop in moments of crisis and in ongoing controversies.
Traditional approaches to dealing with conflicting interests are not up to the demands that these controversies create. The public officials who bear responsibility often confront a dilemma. They are expected to represent ‘the government’ and pursue the policies it sets. Because they are democratically elected (or accountable to elected officials), they are also expected to represent citizens who protest against public policies and services and reject the opportunities for ‘participation’ that government organizes. The tension between these demands is heightened when public officials also feel the need to organize the forums in which such questions can be addressed. Conventional practices have not provided a way out of this dilemma. They also miss opportunities to engage citizens when they are active in episodes of protest and contestation.
This dilemma of public leadership highlights the need to learn how make conflicts productive and how to draw on them to enhance legitimacy and improve governance. The questions are direct and practical. How can government negotiate without losing its political mandate? How can citizens and NGOs gain the influence they seek without taking legal action? What role does (and might) the media play? What skills from the field of negotiation and public mediation can help shift the balance? What can we learn from experience in Canada and the US where stakeholder negotiation and mediation have developed over the past 15 years? How can we adapt the insights gained in this experience to address contemporary problems in the Netherlands?
In the programme 'Beyond Polderen', we address this deficit through an effort to discuss and discover, to talk and teach about the field of Public Mediation. We hope to develop a shared understanding of the opportunities for Public Mediation in the Netherlands by reflecting on current practice and comparing it with international research and experience. The programme described below is meant for policy makers, civil servants, civil action groups, researchers, politicians, business representatives, and practitioners in the field of (public) mediation whose work could benefit from a practical understanding of the opportunities offered by the practice of alternative conflict resolution. By bringing these stakeholders together, we seek to create a critical setting in which we can all discuss and compare what we know and what is needed.
January 16 2014
Introductory Seminar ‘Improvising Opportunity in Mediation and Public Administration: Processes of Dialogue, Debate, and Negotiation’
John Forester’s research into the micro-politics of mediation, planning, ethics, and public deliberation assesses the ways that public officials manage public disputes and shape stakeholder involvement in diverse settings. His recent books include Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes (2009: Oxford University Press) and Planning in the Fact of Conflict: The Surprising Possibilities of Facilitative Leadership (2013: American Planning Association Press). In this seminar, Professor Forester will summarize insights from the interviews with mediators that provided the basis for his last two books and relate them to an emerging model of practice to provide the participants with a basis for comparative discussion.
Time: 15:30 – 17:00
Entry cost: free
Prins Hendrikkade 189b
February 20 2014
Masterclass ‘Setting the scene: The finesse of conflict assessment’
Assessment is a critical phase in public disputes. Getting off on the wrong foot can limit and distort the opportunities that follow. Missteps in conflict assessment are often amplified in the later stages of a dispute. Assessment is also a critical step for public officials and other stakeholders who want to test the waters to see what is feasible before adopting a design or committing to participate in a mediation process. When a conflict assessment is conducted well it can enhance stakeholders’ understanding of the issues, inform the design of the process, and help develop the relationships that mediation needs to move forward.
Despite this practical significance, conflict assessment receives relatively little attention. In this masterclass, Howard Bellman will take participants through the subtleties of conflict assessment. The masterclass will focus on building a strategic perspective on conflict assessment that relates the initial steps of diagnosis and design to later stages of mediation. It will also help participants build the skills needed to conduct a good conflict assessment.
Howard Bellman is a mediator who works in private practice. His work has ranged from the most ordinary civil and labor matters to international diplomacy. A significant portion of his practice has focused on high profile, controversial multi-party cases of public concern such as national rule making, spatial planning, large-scale environmental remediation, school desegregation, financing education, and Native-American land claims. Mr. Bellman’s clients have included state governments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Education, and the Federal Trade and Nuclear Regulatory Commissions. From 1983-1986, Mr. Bellman served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations. In 2003 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators. He is currently Distinguished Adjunct Professor at
the Marquette University Center for Dispute Resolution Education. His recent mediation cases include the Klamath River Hydroelectric Facilities Relicensing Negotiations and negotiations in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Mediation System of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Time: 9.30 – 15.30 (includes lunch).
(exact location will be announced)
March 20 2014
Seminar ' Who is to blame?' Escalation of public disputes and the role of (social ) media
Job Cohen/Dick Rijken
Conflicts in the public domain often escalate rapidly. More often than not, social media plays an important role in conflict escalation. In this seminar, Job Cohen will share the findings from his analysis of the Haren Project X incident. How should we understand this event? What initiated the sequence of events that led to the incident in Haren? How did local officials respond along the way? What features of the interplay between action and reaction produced the dramatic result? Were other outcomes possible?
Job Cohen has a distinguished track record in Public Administration. He was Secretary of State for Education, he is the former Mayor of Amsterdam, and he was Party-leader of the PvdA from 2010 until 2012. He is currently Chairman of Centris, the branche organization for social workforce organizations. Next to this, he leads several research and evaluative committees, such as the Committee which evaluated the string of events in Haren.
Dick Rijken has worked at the cross section of IT, media and society for many years. He previously worked as head of VPRO digital . He is currently lector IT and Society at the Haagse Hogeschool. He will respond to the ‘Haren case’ with his view on the dynamics of social media and the role they play in escalation and in resolving of public conflicts.
Time: 15:30 – 17:00.
UB C007 (Doelenzaal)
April 24 2014
Masterclass ‘The art of joint fact finding’
Alexander Rinnooy Kan/Arthur Petersen/David laws
More and more public disputes involve technical issues that demand specialized knowledge. In these cases, turning to the facts will often deepen disagreements and escalate the conflict, rather than moving stakeholders toward consensus. Evidence will vary across disciplinary boundaries and be read in different ways by groups with different stakes. Local experience will constitute another source of relevant knowledge. Uncertainty is increasingly a defining feature whose significance can be difficult to make sense of and whose shadow can contribute to a contentious atmosphere. The dynamics created by uncertainty, different sources of knowledge, and competing interests unfold in conflicts over infrastructure projects, urban development, spatial planning, and health.
In this masterclass, we examine the sources of uncertainty and technical complexity, the effects they have on public disputes, and approaches to reasoning about contended knowledge in negotiation. We explore the development of joint fact-finding as a practical response to these challenges. We analyze it as a design for engaging stakeholders, explore how it works in different settings, and identify factors that shape its performance in practice. The goal is to improve participants’ understanding of sources of uncertainty and disagreement and develop their capacity to address the challenges created by these common features of public disputes.
Alexander Rinnooy Kan
Alexander Rinnooy Kan is University Professor of Economics and Business at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), focusing on change processes at the micro and macro level in a turbulent world economy where change is the only constant. Complex negotiations, often involving multiple parties at various levels, define the nature of the change involved. Professor Rinnooy Kan was previously Professor of Operations Research at Erasmus University before becoming director of the Econometrics Institute and then Rector Magnificus. Professor Rinnooy Kan also served as president of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry (VNO) and, after a merger with the Netherlands Christian Workers Union (NCW), the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW). He joined the executive board of bank and insurer ING, where he remained a member until June 2006. From 2006 until 2012 he has been a Crown-appointed member and chairman of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands.
Professor Arthur C. Petersen (1970) is Chief Scientist at the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, Professor of Science and Environmental Public Policy in the IVM Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University Amsterdam; Visiting Professor in the Centre for the Analysis of Time Series and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); and Research Affiliate in the Political Economy & Technology Policy Program of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the VU, he co-leads the research theme ‘Science and Values in Environmental Governance’, which focuses on the role of scientific knowledge and values for addressing complex environmental problems.
David Laws is on the faculty of the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam and is the Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Conflict Studies. His research focuses on conflict and negotiation in urban and environmental governance. He has published extensively on public mediation and negotiation, including the 2012 report Publieke Beleidsbemiddeling for the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Binnenlandse Zaken). Before coming to the UvA he taught at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Time: 9.30 – 15.30 (includes lunch).
Universiteitsbibliotheek C1.08 (Vondelzaal)
July 2 2014
Seminar ‘New coalitions in local governance’
Hendrik Wagenaar / Martien Kuitenbrouwer
The local context is prey to all manner of conflicts between stakeholders and the government. At the same time, the local context offers opportunities to build alternative coalitions and develop new ways of sharing the responsibility for making choices about policy and managing its implementation. How do these coalitions among citizens and coalitions between developers, government and citizens arise? In this seminar, we zoom in on the importance of the local community as a locale for building coalitions and the role that public mediation can play in developing new forms of local governance. Martien Kuitenbrouwer will tell us about her experience with ‘The Hallen’; a former industrial tram depot, which is now turned into a cultural and craft centre with the help of local citizens and entrepreneurs, after fifteen years of conflict. Hendrik Wagenaar, professor in Town and Regional Planning at Sheffield university will respond.
Martien Kuitenbrouwer is chairman of the city district Amsterdam West. She was responsible for the regeneration of The Hallen complex. Next to that, she is co-founder of the Public Mediation Initiative of the University of Amsterdam.
Hendrik Wagenaar is Professor of Town and regional Planning at Sheffield University (UK). He has worked in the field of Urban Planning for many years, both as a practitioner as as an academic. He is fascinated by transforming governance processes by including citizens and other stakeholders.
Time: 15:30 – 17:00.
Oost Indisch Huis
E 0.02 (VOC zaal)
The first programme 'Beyond Polderen, challenges and opportunities in Public Mediation' runs from January 2014 until June 2014. It contains a series of three seminars and two Masterclasses.
The seminars start at 15.30 and finish around 16.30. We‘ll end with a
All Masterclasses start at 9.30 and finish at 15.30 and include lunch. All venues take place at the Uva. See the program for the exact location.
We offer the complete programme ‘Beyond polderen’ for 500 euro. Each Masterclass by itself will cost 250 euro. The seminars are free of charge, including ‘borrel’!
Since places are limited, please sign up soon!
‘Beyond Polderen’ is part of the Public Mediation Initiative (PMI) of the University of Amsterdam. The Public Mediation Initiative, a co-operation between the Faculties of Law and Social Sciences that seeks to bring research and practice around public conflict resolution together. PMI organizes seminars and workshops, both for academics, professionals in the field of (public) mediation as well and government and other professionals. PMI aim is to get a better understanding of the possibilities of public mediation as contributing to learning and to raising the standards of the profession of public mediation.