Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Department

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Neil Katz

Second Advisor

Toran J. Hansen

Third Advisor

Dana Mills

Abstract

Conflict in higher education is inevitable and theoretically driven processes in conflict resolution can be employed to help in managing conflict or mediating issues. Students often are not a part of the well thought-out process that may exists in certain institutions, and the way in which conflict is handled could lack theoretical support. In conflict resolution theory, the process to resolve a conflict is often just as important as the outcome. Students may not be fully satisfied with the outcome of a mediation process when a conflict arises. However, if the mediation session was facilitated properly and a student's input is recognized, then this may lead to overall satisfaction and empowerment of the student throughout the process. The relationship and reputation of a university can be salvaged with the appropriate conflict resolution approach and limits negative publicity by students.

This study conducted a detailed assessment of the conflict resolution processes and systems of two universities. The study adopted a qualitative case study approach, conducting in-depth qualitative interviews with key university personnel as well as examined the current systems that are in place in the respective institutions. In addition, the researcher recommended a theoretically-supported system for handling student disputes/issues that takes the real-world challenges of these institutions into account. Theories from the fields of mediation and conflict resolution were applied in the context of the higher education setting to help support the process.