Community Dispute Resolution Role-Play:

Westville Mediation Strategies in Community Planning


John Forester and David Stitzel

Three-person, three-issue, integrative, scoreable mediation among representatives of a homelessness task force and a neighborhood group, mediated by a planning department representative, over the terms of a proposed homeless shelter in their suburban town


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.


G. Hutter, the representative of the Westville Homelessness Task Force, hopes to turn the old social service center into a shelter for Westville’s homeless. J. Wood represents Neighbors Together, a local neighborhood organization. Wood is worried about the shelter’s impact on the community: what will this do to property values? A. Goldsmith, a member of the Westville City Planning staff, has been asked by the Mayor to act as a mediator, to help Hutter and Wood come up with an agreement they can live with–before the City Council plunges ahead and decides on its own.



There are three issues to be negotiated. Participants have the opportunity to make use of their different interests, to trade across issues, and to achieve joint gains. However, not all agreements are optimal and there exists considerable scope for the parties to achieve far below what they could possibly receive.

In all, thirteen arguments are possible. Comparing agreements allows discussion of the following points:

  • Differences between joint gains and compromises
  • Tensions between creating and claiming value
  • The centrality of trading, exploiting differences in relative priorities
  • Issues of power and representation of affected parties
  • Roles of third party helpers and questions about neutrality
  • Mediating strategies when mediators have multiple goals
  • Perceptions and realities of “even-handedness” and neutrality
  • Sources of mediators’ bias
  • Sources of mediators’ influence
  • Activist vs. neutral mediator roles



This exercise was written specifically to explore non-neutral mediation strategies, but can be used to examine distributive and integrative negotiation strategies. Because the mediator’s performance is scored, this game allows us an evaluation of the neutral’s intervention strategies under conditions that call into question the mediator’s neutrality.



For all parties:

  • Background Information: A Shelter for Westville?


Role Specific Confidential Information for:

  • A. Goldsmith, Planning Director
  • G. Hutter, Homelessness Task Force Representative
  • J. Wood, Representative of Neighbors Together


Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Note
  • 2 key debriefing charts



Community dispute mediation; mediation; mediator bias



Homelessness in Niceville

Negotiated Development in Redstone

Westville Attributes

Time required: 1-2 hours
Number of participants: 3
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: Mediator
Scoreable: Yes
Teaching notes available: Yes