Community Dispute Resolution Role-Play:

Marsh County Case

John Perryman

A set of four simultaneous and potentially interactive multi-party negotiations among locally elected officials, industry representatives, and community leaders regarding a range of economic, educational, environmental, and social issues

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The Marsh County Case comprises four simultaneous — and potentially interactive — meetings among city and county officials regarding issues such as zoning permits, industrial facility and school siting, bilingual education, business community support of local schools, disciplinary action against local juveniles, and budget requests. The local officials involved all happen to be up for re-election this year. Originally designed as a training tool for locally elected officials, this case involves actual political issues obtained from newspaper articles in Florida and Georgia.


Potential teaching points include:

  • The value of the interest-based negotiation process and its possible impact on the substantive result
  • The value of strategic planning within a community
  • The need for sensitive handling of ethical or moral dilemmas within a community planning context


Designed for 14 – 36 participants, the case includes the following roles:

  • County Commission (3 – 7 participants)
  • City Council (3 – 7)
  • Board of Education (3 – 7)
  • Chamber of Commerce Board (3 – 7)
  • Industrial Prospect (1)
  • Dir. of Development Authority (1)
  • Sheriff of Marsh County (1 – optional)
  • Neighborhood Rep, Fielding Care issue (1 – optional)
  • Church Rep, Fielding Care issue (1 – optional)
  • Neighborhood Rep, L&N issue (1 – optional)
  • Environmental Rep, L&N issue (1 – optional)
  • J. Thrash, Developer for L&N issue (1 – optional)


Teacher's Pack (92 pages total) includes:

  • Participant Materials
  • Teaching Note

Marsh County Case Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 14
Teams involved: Yes
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes