Environmental Role-Play:

Humboldt Mediating a Regional Development Dispute


Lawrence Susskind

Eight-person, multi-issue mediation among regional government, environmental, development, and business interests regarding environmental and economic tradeoffs and ethical issues in the development of a manufacturing plant


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 tnrc@law.harvard.edu 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 http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 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.


Imports Inc, a large multi-national corporation, has recently purchased Smith’s Rollers plant. The new owners want to expand the plant and are considering a site in Milltown on the Humboldt River. Milltown is located in Arcadia — a fictitious western European country. In manufacturing the rollers, the chemical by-product ‘Laminia’ is generated. Although community leaders are enthusiastic about the project and the potential creation of new jobs and economic expansion, there is much concern regarding the long-term effects of the chemical releases. The elected regional Governors of Humboldt have invited seven parties, together with a mediator, to participate in an informal discussion that will cover both environmental and economic issues. There will be two preliminary meetings prior to the main meeting. The first preliminary meeting will include leaders from the Dairy Cooperative, Environmental Action League, and Arcadia Environmental Quality Agency. The second preliminary meeting will involve the Mayor of Milltown, the Director of Economic Development in Humboldt, and the Coordinator of the Business Association will meet to review their mutual concerns. When these six parties come together, the Lawyer from Imports, Inc., in addition to a professional mediator will also be present.



  • The preliminary meetings create a bi-level negotiating process. Participants have an opportunity to compare the differences and similarities of their particular dispute resolution styles when negotiating with parties having some similar ideas and then with parties articulating seemingly opposing interests. In addition, analysis can be made of how agreements may be reached in the face of differing interests and views.
  • Although three main issues are discussed at the meetings, each player has additional concerns as well. This underscores the possibilities of creative settlements, as well as aids players in deciding what coalitions will be most useful.
  • The use of linkage should be explored both in terms of threats and in terms of incentives or promises.
  • The blending of economic and environmental issues provides and opportunity to discuss the costs and benefits of tradeoffs, as well as advantages and disadvantages of revealing all of one's concerns.
  • During debriefing, discussion regarding the mediator's method of handling dispute should be highlighted. At this point confidential information provided to the mediator by the Governors should be revealed. Analysis of this information and how the neutral party used it to either attempt agreement or decide that a consensus was unreachable provides an opportunity to focus on the role of a mediator in a public policy dispute.




Estimated Time Requirement:

30 minutes- read instructions

45 minutes – private meetings for each of the 2 coalitions

15 minutes – mediator can use this time to meet with the coalitions if she or he has not been present in the private meetings

60-120 minutes – coalitions negotiate

60 minutes – debrief

Total: 2.5-3.5 hours


Needed for the exercise:

2 small rooms with seats for 4; 1 large room with seats for 8; Flip charts, markers and writing materials for all parties and in particular the mediator



For all parties:

  • General Background and Instructions
  • Milltown Journal Editorial


Role Specific:

Confidential Instructions for

  • Coordinator of the Humboldt Business Association
  • Representative of the Arcadia Environmental Quality Agency
  • Director of Economic Development
  • Lawyer for Imports, Inc.
  • Head of the Environmental Action League
  • Head of the Dairy Cooperative
  • Mayor of Milltown
  • Mediator


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above
  • Notes on the background readings, logistics, debriefing, summary of major lessons and potential exam questions



Environmental dispute resolution; mediation; mediating science-intensive policy disputes; contingent agreement; multi-party negotiating; consensus building; brainstorming; packaging; Agenda control; Authority; Bluffing; Caucusing; Coalitions, blocking; Commitment; Communication, public v. private; Compliance; Consensus building; constituents; Cost-benefit analysis; Creating and Claiming value; Credibility; Currently perceived choice analysis; Decision analysis; Distributional disputes; Joint gain; Group process; Information exchange; Interest, dovetailing; Lawyering; Legitimacy; Linkage; Managing uncertainty; Mediation; Media; Meeting design; Misrepresentation; Monolithic v. non-monolithic parties; Objective criteria; Options generating; Partisan perceptions; Personality; Precedents; Public opinion; Reality testing; Relationship; Reservation price; Risk perception; Separating the people from the problem; Systems of negotiation; Threats; Trading, issues; Undisclosed principles; Yesable propositions



Chemco Inc

The Carson Extension (mediated version)

Humboldt Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 8
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: Mediator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes
Non-English version available: French, Spanish