Civic FusionMediating Polarized Public Disputes

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By Susan L. Podziba. Civic fusion is when people bond to achieve a common public goal, even as they sustain deep value differences. This book offers proven strategies for moving polarized parties to consensus solutions based on the author's 25 years of mediation experience, including working with pro-life and pro-choice leaders after fatal shootings at women's health clinics, crane industry and union representatives to develop federal worker safety regulations, and citizens of a failed city that reclaimed their democracy by writing a consensus charter.

 

Amidst political polarization, public policy mediators help disputing parties contribute their wisdom and experiences to resolve their complex public conflicts. Mediators trigger and sustain civic fusion, a phenomenon in which people with passionately different political positions bond to address common public goals without sacrificing their core values.

In Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes, author Susan Podziba draws on three of her past projects to explain how to move parties from polarization to deliberative negotiations that result in innovative consensus solutions.

  • During secret meetings in the wake of fatal attacks at two women’s health clinics in Massachusetts, as pro-life and pro-choice leaders continued to vehemently disagree about when life begins and a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, they also acted in concert to protect born people from violence.
  • When crane accidents accounted for the highest incidence of worker fatalities and serious injuries in construction, the crane industry, unions, and the federal government engaged in regulatory negotiations that resulted in consensus standards to protect workers. As a result, fewer people will fall from or be crushed by cranes in the U.S.
  • After being pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy, the City of Chelsea reclaimed its democracy after citizen-representatives negotiated the terms of a new city charter with systematic input from thousands of fellow citizens. Ten years later, the city balances its budgets and attracts private investment.

Civic Fusion analyzes how policy mediators carefully design and implement processes to guide representative negotiators to resolve deep disagreements when the status quo is unsustainable, no party can effectively act unilaterally, and all are frustratingly stuck in place.

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

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Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.