Course Description

CBI and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy present an advanced three-day course on Mediating Land Use Disputes, aimed at expanding the number of qualified land use dispute mediators across the country. The lead instructor is Lawrence Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT and one of the country’s most experienced public dispute mediators.

While there are thousands of mediators in the United States, very few have the specialized knowledge and skill required to successfully mediate land use disputes. This course offers experienced mediators an opportunity to learn about the special problems associated with mediating land use disputes. The course will be highly interactive, including hands-on exercises that build on CBI’s extensive experience throughout the United States and Canada. Cases include infrastructure and facility-siting disputes, disagreements over how to manage new development, environmental justice battles, zoning and permitting fights, and discord over the preparation of long-range resource management and land use plans. CBI will ask course registrants to send in examples of actual situations they are dealing with (or hope to mediate) so that the course can respond to their specific needs and interests.

In this course you will: 

  • Explore the special problems associated with mediating land disputes, and the specific demands on public  resolvers involved in land use resource management
  • Familiarize yourself with advanced tools and techniques used by mediators of land use disputes
  • Learn how to apply consensus building strategies in resource management and land allocation disputes
  • Discuss and debate actual cases that raise challenging mediation dilemmas
  • Link advanced mediation theory and best practice in the land use context

Exercises include:

  • Exploring Best Practices and Pitfalls of Conflict Assessment
  • Framing a Joint Fact Finding Process in a Land Use Dispute
  • Managing Stakeholder Involvement to Increase Understanding
  • Formalizing Informally Negotiated Agreements in the Land Use System
  • Selecting an Effective Mediator

Course Instructors

Professor Lawrence Susskind - Founder and Chief Knowledge Advisor, Consensus Building Institute; Ford Professor, Urban and Environmental Planning, MIT; Director, MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program
Patrick Field - Managing Director, Consensus Building Institute
Merrick Hoben - Director of D.C. Regional Office, Consensus Building Office
Ona Ferguson - Senior Associate, Consensus Building Institute

What others have said about this course

"Larry Susskind and the CBI staff really know what they are talking about. Protection of the environment depends on people solving problems. I learned the methods of mediation and got to practice them. And the course participants were great people to share this with."

"Having over fifteen years of community organization and land issue experience, I found this course to be highly enjoyable, useful and realistic. This combines the best of academics with experience... with great appeal to professionals who are seeking to add to the tools of our trade."

"It exceeded my expectations. Best training I’ve had. Most organized, best managed, most professional."

"This course is a marvelous opportunity for an established, experienced, or even relatively new, practitioner of public policy/ environmental mediation to learn new techniques, reaffirm old techniques and interact with those of like mind and spirit."

Sample Agenda 

Day One, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

  • Overview of the Course
  • Essential Steps in Consensus Building and the Mutual Gains Approach to negotiation
  • The Dilemmas for Public Dispute Resolvers in Mediating Land Use Disputes
  • Key Strategies of Conflict Assessment
  • Cocktail Reception at the Lincoln House in the evening

Day Two, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

  • Review of Day One
  • Getting the Right Parties to the Table
  • Joint Fact Finding in the Land Use Context
  • Helping Parties Prepare: Managing the ‘Inside/Outside’ Problem

Day Three, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

  • Review of Day Two
  • Formalizing Informally Negotiated Agreements
  • Selecting a Mediator
  • Concluding Session