Environmental Dispute Resolution Program

Environmental Dispute Resolution Program

Program Description

The Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program (EDR Program) promotes collaboration, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution processes (ADR) as a means to address contemporary environmental and natural resource conflicts. The EDR Program is building capacity for expanded and improved collaboration and mediation, while documenting the extensive collaboration efforts already occurring in Utah and the Mountain West. 

The EDR Program’s approach redefines the meaning of “ADR.” Usually thought of as an alternative to litigation, we use the term “ADR” to mean Additional Dialogue Required, i.e., using mediation and other collaborative processes to create an opportunity for dialogue, mutual understanding, and respect in environmental and natural resource conflicts. This approach builds long-term relationships and produces enduring and creative on-the-ground results.

The EDR program encompasses four general categories of activity:

Academic Instruction. The EDR Program provides students at the University of Utah essential negotiation and conflict management skills, as well as opportunities to practice environmental dispute resolution and collaborative problem-solving techniques. The EDR Program offers two courses in alternate years. Environmental Conflict Resolution (offered in even years) allows law students to receive skills credit by participating in realistic simulations and writing a conflict assessment for a real-life environmental or natural resource issue. Conflict Management (offered in odd years) provides a broad overview of conflict prevention, conflict management, and dispute resolution methods, and allows law students to receive skills credit. Students can also receive Directed Research credits by researching and writing case studies, without taking either course.

Public Education. In order to expand the use of ADR, the EDR Program holds conferences, workshops, and other programs to build the capacity for collaboration. This includes opportunities for community leaders and stakeholders in environmental disputes to learn the basic principles of collaboration and consensus-building, with particular focus on the benefits and challenges of using these approaches. The EDR Program also maintains a Blog to educate students and the public about the possibilities for collaboration, mediation, and other dispute resolution processes as alternative methods to resolve public policy conflicts, especially around environmental and natural resource issues.

Research and Analysis. The EDR Program documents, evaluates, and celebrates the extensive collaboration already occurring in Utah and the Mountain West, and proposes improved and expanded opportunities and methods for EDR. We hope that our growing collection of case studies will inspire and motivate parties currently in conflict to explore collaborative possibilities.

Process Design, Facilitation, and Mediation Services. The EDR Program is available to “do the work” of environmental dispute resolution for select projects. Services available include conflict assessment, process design, and mediation/facilitation. As appropriate, clinical students have the opportunity to assist the professional neutral in these cases. The EDR Program staff is also available to provide conflict coaching or mentoring in specific cases.

EDR Program Year 1 Accomplishments

EDR Program Year 2 Accomplishments

EDR Program Year 3 Accomplishments

EDR Program Year 4 Accomplishments

EDR Program Year 5 Accomplishments


This program is funded
by a generous five-year grant
from Alternative Visions Fund

A fund of the
Chicago Community Trust