U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution

National Roster of ECR Professionals - Glossary

Apprentice or junior professional - an assistant to the principal professional in a case.

Case - a case involves an actual or potential dispute or lack of agreement on one or more issues in controversy. A case may also be a process of building agreement, providing recommendations or advice in order to identify actual or potential issues in controversy, or facilitating collaborative processes among multiple parties on actual or potential issues in controversy. Process design relating to environmental or public policy disputes would also be included. For purposes of entry to the roster, the ECR professional must have spent more than 20 hours on the case and have worked on it within the last 10 years.

Complex environmental or public policy case - an environmental or public policy case involving at least three of the following characteristics: at least 100 case hours; multiple issues at stake; at least four parties representing distinct interests at the table; at least one party is a government entity.

Case hours - actual contact time with the parties as individuals or a group, plus time spent in dispute or conflict assessment, dispute resolution process design, conducting all phases of the process, or evaluating or reporting on the process. This does not include hours spent prior to professional engagement in the project.

Consensus Building - a number of collaborative decision making techniques in which a facilitator or mediator is used to assist diverse or competing interest groups to reach agreement on policy matters, environmental conflicts, or other issues in controversy affecting a large number of people. Consensus building processes are typically used to foster dialogue, clarify areas of agreement and disagreement, improve the information on which a decision may be based, and resolve controversial issues in ways that all interests find acceptable. Consensus building typically involves deliberate face-to-face interaction among representatives of stakeholder groups. The goals of consensus building are to gain early engagement from affected interests with differing viewpoints, produce sound policies with a wide range of support, and reduce the likelihood of subsequent disagreements or legal challenges.

Conflict Assessment - conflict assessment (also known as "convening") helps to identify the issues in controversy in a given situation, the affected interests, and the appropriate form(s) of handling the conflict. The assessment process typically involves conferring with potentially interested persons regarding a situation involving conflict in order to: assess the causes of the conflict; identify the entities and individuals who would be substantively affected by the conflict's outcome; assess those persons' interests and identify a preliminary set of issues that they believe relevant; evaluate the feasibility of using a consensus-building or other collaborative process to address the issues; educate interested persons on consensus and collaborative processes so as to help them think through whether they would wish to participate; and design the structure and membership of a negotiating committee or other collaborative process (if any) to address the conflict.

Dispute Systems Design - a process for assisting an organization to develop a structure for handling a series of similar recurring or anticipated disputes (e.g., environmental enforcement cases or EEO complaints within a federal agency) more effectively. A dispute systems designer typically proceeds by interviewing representatives of interested or affected groups (including people in the agency) about their perceptions and interests; analyzing the organization's existing system for handling these conflicts; designing and implementing conflict management or dispute resolution procedures that encourage early, informal resolution of conflicts; and perhaps evaluating the impact of these new dispute resolution procedures to assure their effectiveness.

Environmental case - cases involving pollution (prevention, cleanup, or consequences), land use, natural resource use or distribution, environmental permitting, facility or infrastructure siting disputes, environmental justice, negotiated rulemaking, enforcement, or compliance relating to environmental cases.

Facilitation - a collaborative process in which an impartial professional seeks to assist a group of individuals or parties to discuss constructively a number of complex, potentially controversial issues. The facilitator typically works with participants before and during these discussions to assure that appropriate persons are at the table, help the parties set ground rules and agendas, enforce both, assist parties to communicate effectively, and help the participants stay on track in working toward their goals. While facilitation bears many similarities to mediation, the neutral in a facilitation process (the "facilitator") usually plays a less active role than a mediator and, unlike a mediator, often does not see "resolution" as a goal of his or her work. Facilitation may be used in any number of situations where parties of diverse interests or experience are in discussion. These situations can range from scientific seminars to management meetings to public forums.

Fact-finding - a process in which a neutral receives information and arguments from the parties involved in a controversy (and may conduct additional research to investigate the issues in dispute), and then submits a report with findings of fact and perhaps recommendations based on those findings. Typically, the fact-finding process is informal and the neutral's recommendations are non-binding.

Interactive process training/negotiation - training in interest-based negotiation and dispute resolution processes and techniques, such as mediation, facilitation, and conflict management, which is interactive in nature, incorporating a substantial number of role plays, simulations, and group demonstrations.

Interagency - involving or representing two or more governmental agencies. Agencies can be local, state, or federal.

Intergovernmental - existing or occurring between two or more governments or nations, including Tribes; or between levels of the same government. Governments can be local, state, federal, or Tribal.

Mediation - facilitated negotiation in which a skilled, impartial third party seeks to enhance negotiations between parties to a conflict or their representatives by improving communication, identifying interests, and exploring possibilities for a mutually agreeable resolution. The disputants remain responsible for negotiating a settlement, and the mediator lacks power to impose any solution; the mediator's role is to assist the process in ways acceptable to the parties. Typically this involves structuring the mediation process, helping the disputants to find areas of common ground and to understand their alternatives, identifying possible solutions, and helping parties draft a final settlement agreement. While mediation typically occurs in the context of a specific dispute involving a limited number of parties, mediative procedures are also used to develop broad policies or regulatory mandates and may involve dozens of participants who represent a variety of interests. Mediation most often is a voluntary process, but in some jurisdictions may be mandated by court order or statute.

Multi-jurisdictional - involving multiple entities with authority or control over the subject of the conflict. These entities can be local, state, federal, or Tribal.

Negotiated Rulemaking - a negotiation process that results in an agreement on draft federal or state regulations among the full range of parties involved in the implementation of the proposed regulation. Mediators and facilitators are often used to manage the negotiated rulemaking process.

Policy Dialogue - processes that bring together representatives of groups with divergent views or interests to tap the collective views of participants in the process. The goals include opening up discussion, improving communication and mutual understanding, exploring the issues in controversy to see if participants' different viewpoints can be distilled into general recommendations, and trying to reach agreement on a proposed policy standard or guidelines to be recommended by government. Often used to address complex environmental conflicts or public policy disputes.

Principal professional - an environmental dispute resolution and consensus building professional who serves as the lead in a case. A principal professional can also be a third party who serves as a co-mediator where duties and responsibilities are shared equally as peers.

Process Design - a process whereby a neutral assists an organization or group to develop a process for addressing a particular controversy or a series of disputes. Typically, a process designer interviews representatives of interested or affected groups (including the project sponsors) about their perceptions and interests regarding the conflict in question, and their suggestions for useful ways to handle it. The designer will then develop a report with recommendations for a specific process to address the issues in the dispute, including the types and number of meetings, methods for bringing important information to the group, likely time requirements, realistic expectations for a product, and other considerations.

Public policy case - cases involving the setting of governmental policy at the national, regional, state or local level, such as environmental or natural resource policy, health or safety policy, or education policy.

Qualifying Case Experience - ECR Roster applicants must have at least 200 hours of experience serving as the principal or co-principal third-party neutral for collaborative or conflict resolution processes intended to assist the parties to achieve a common goal or agreement on one or more environmental, natural resource, and/or public lands issues. Applicants must demonstrate abilities that go beyond simply working with parties to produce constructive dialogue. Roster members must be able to help parties solve a problem or resolve a conflict.

Third-party Neutral Environmental Conflict Resolution Professional - an individual with experience and expertise serving as an impartial third-party to assist parties in collaborative problem solving (conflict prevention, management and resolution) for environmental, natural resource, or public lands issues. Services typically involve assessment, process design, mediation and facilitation. It does not include a role as a decision-maker, a representative/advocate, or a stakeholder.