Community Dispute Resolution Role-Play:

Dioxin – Waste to Energy Game


Denise Madigan, Steve Foster, and Lawrence Susskind

Six-party, multi-issue negotiation among four scientists, a city representative, and an environmentalist to develop the city's solid waste management strategy; also known as: Dioxin: Resource Recovery.


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

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 or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

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.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


With landfills rapidly filling, the City of Lockford is attempting to solve its garbage problem by incinerating its trash in waste-to-energy plants. Protests from environmental and community groups over dioxin-related health risks posed by these facilities has escalated into a public fight between scientists representing the City Department of Sanitation and environmentalists. In an attempt to understand and resolve this highly scientific and technical problem, the "City Fathers," via a local scientific academy, have called together the two main protagonists in the fight along with other experts and interested parties. Based on the recommendations of this group, the City will announce its future garbage disposal strategy. A press conference has been called at the end of the meeting, and if the scientists cannot reach an understanding, they face a complete loss of credibility and the wrath of an outraged public. The parties include: The City Department of Sanitation, a waste-to-energy expert, a combustion physicist, an epidemiologist; a scientist from the community; and a national environmentalist group.



  • This exercise illustrates how negotiations can be used to resolve conflicts between scientists and technically sophisticated parties when scientific data are in dispute.
  • When the same negotiation is conducted by multiple groups, the comparison of outcomes is instructive. The recommendations offered by each group may differ widely and in some cases there may be no agreement reached in the time allowed.
  • The scientific data available in the case (and in the world) is incomplete and inconclusive to the points at issue. The exercise motivates discussion of how decisions should be made given limited information.
  • The exercise provides a context in which the formation of coalitions or "joint interest" groups can dramatically affect the negotiated outcome.



The exercise is best run with 6 people, although 12 people (2 per party) works well. The instructions require a one to three hours to read and prepare prior to the negotiation. They contain a good deal of scientific information which should be analyzed prior to the beginning of the negotiations. Actual negotiations require 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.



For all parties:

  • General Information
  • Press Releases
  • Four Appendices and Charts


Role specific

Confidential Instructions to

  • Epidemiologist from the State DEP
  • Lockford Academy of Science Combustion Physicist
  • Lockford Concerned Citizens' Chemist
  • Waste-to-Energy Expert
  • Executive Director of the Lockford Board of Directors
  • Deputy Director of the City DOS


Teacher's package (87 pages total):

  • All of the above
  • Logistics Notes
  • FAQ notes
  • Debrief notes
  • Notes on the role of experts



Managing risk and uncertainty in science – intensive public policy disputes; environmental disputes



Agenda control; BATNA; Caucusing; Coalitions; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Constituents; Credibility; Decision analysis; Group process; Information exchange; Issue control; Legitimacy; Media; Mediation; Objective criteria; Partisan perceptions; Public opinion; Risk perception; Time constraints

Dioxin - Waste to Energy Game Attributes

Time required: 3-5 hours
Number of participants: 6
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: Yes
Teaching notes available: Yes