The Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program, established in February 2012, has continued its multi-pronged approach to promoting collaboration, mediation, and other dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental and natural resource conflicts.
In the past year, the EDR Program has engaged and provided mentorship for multiple graduate students from the College of Law, the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, and the Environmental Humanities Program at the University of Utah. The EDR Program also hosted a summer fellow from the University of Virginia this summer. In 2016-17, the EDR Program anticipates that it will continue to work with diverse graduate students from both the University of Utah and elsewhere.
During the 2015-16 year, the EDR Program initiated numerous new initiatives, including the Utah Program on Collaboration, a three-part effort aimed at cultivating and enhancing a culture of collaboration throughout Utah. The first part of the program, a full-day Forum on Collaboration held in November 2015, engaged high-level state and federal natural resource and environmental agency leaders in exploring opportunities and challenges for collaboration in Utah. The second part of the program, Dialogues on Collaboration, started with the first dialogue in June 2016, which focused on “Working with elected officials on water issues: What can collaboration bring to the table?” The third part of the program, the Short Course on Effective Natural Resources Collaboration, is a professional training program teaching the art and science of collaborative problem solving, to be held annually or bi-annually. The inaugural Short Course is currently underway with a cohort of 24 diverse environmental and natural resources stakeholders from all levels of government, corporations, NGOs, tribe, legislative staff, and consultants. We received generous donations from the Huntsman International and Wagner Charitable Foundation to provide scholarships to ensure this diverse representation.
In collaboration with the Ecological Planning Center at the University of Utah, Associate Director Danya Rumore initiated a collaborative regional planning effort around Zion National Park in 2016. The project, which was initially funded by a seed grant from the College of Architecture and Planning and a generous gift from St. George Area Convention and Tourism, recently received a $40,000 grant from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. Dr. Rumore will be presenting about the effort at the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation’s Summit in Cedar City this fall. She is currently conducting a Situation Assessment in the Capitol Reef National Park region, with the intent of initiating a similar collaborative regional planning effort in that area later this year. Dr. Rumore is also working on a collaborative regional planning effort in Bonner County, Idaho.
Director Michele Straube secured a generous grant from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation to develop a multi-phase role-play simulation aimed at teaching the core skills of effective natural resources collaboration to lawyers and other professionals. The simulation will be integrated into the EDR Program’s Short Course on Effective Natural Resources Collaboration. A graduate student fellow from the law school will assist Ms. Straube and Dr. Rumore in conducting research for and designing the simulation and related teaching materials.
The EDR Program continues to host the EDR Blog, posting bi-weekly blogs featuring a diversity of guest authors and topics related to environmental dispute resolution and collaboration. The EDR Program also continued to provide facilitation for ongoing efforts, including the La Sal Sustainability Collaborative and the Escalante River Watershed Partnership. Director Straube and Associate Director Rumore continue to serve on the Steering Committee for the nation-wide University Network on Collaborative Governance and the University of Utah’s Global Change and Sustainability Center and to teach courses on negotiation, dispute resolution, and conflict management for law school and graduate students.
The EDR Program staff currently includes two full-time staff, a part-time blog coordinator, and a part-time administrative assistant. Michele Straube has been the EDR Program’s Director since its inception in 2012. Danya Rumore joined the program as its Associate Director in July 2015. Primary funding for the EDR Program comes from a generous five-year grant from the Alternative Visions Fund, a fund of the Chicago Community Trust, supplemented by fees for third-party neutral services in specific collaborative processes and other project-specific funding.