Managing Conflict

Conflict is a fact of life, inevitable and often creative. Conflicts happen when people pursue goals which clash. Differences in perspectives are often seen as a problem that will only be resolved when we all have the same intentions, or when one view wins over the others. However, conflict can be a resource for learning and gaining a greater understanding of a problem, where a solution or improvement in the situation is found.

On campus conflicts and disagreements can and do arise between different groups or individuals who have, or think they have, different goals and perspectives on particular issues.

Sometimes the disagreements are related to violent conflicts occurring elsewhere in the world, which students have religious, political or family links to. The conflict between individuals or groups occurs due to real or perceived differences in why these conflicts continue, what has happened in the past and how they should be resolved.

For some students, the conflict affects them deeply, through a sense of community or kinship that transcends borders or distance, and can heighten emotions and disagreements they have with others, especially where underlying tensions or grievances exist.

Overtime conflicts between individuals and groups can become very complex, and require analysis to understand what the conflict is about and where there might be space for greater understanding, relationship building or solutions.

Students’ unions and associations should be places where students can discuss the issues that are important to them, without fear or intimidation. This section features practical tools to help address conflict on campus.

NUS recognises the complexity of tensions and issues between groups on campus, and where students’ unions feel unable to deal with certain tensions they should seek additional support from NUS.

Analyse the situation and identify the problem

How to analyse what is going on to gain a better understanding of the situation.

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Approaches to different types of issues

Underlying causes to issues you may face and how you might resolve them.

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Creating a safe space

How develop a safe space for students of faith, belief and non-belief so they can express themselves without fear of reprisal.

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Debate vs Dialogue

Understanding the differences between debate and dialogue.

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Ground rules for dialogue

Understanding how to create ground rules for meetings and workshops while encouraging participation between faith and belief groups and societies.

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Fishbowl dialogue

A dialogue technique to encourage discussion in large or complex groups.

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