S.J. Quinney College of Law

Celebrating 100 Years of
Legal Education (1913-2013)

Environmental Dispute Resolution

Wallace Stegner Center logo


Program Description

The Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program (EDRP) — established in 2012 — promotes collaboration, mediation, and other dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental conflicts. Focusing initially on environmental and natural resource conflicts in Utah, EDRP is building capacity for expanded and improved collaboration and mediation, while also documenting and shedding new light on the extensive collaboration efforts already occurring in Utah and the Mountain West.

The new program’s approach redefines the meaning of “ADR”.   Though usually thought of as an alternative to litigation, EDRP uses the term “ADR” to mean Additional Dialogue Required – using mediation and other collaborative processes to create an opportunity for dialogue and mutual understanding in environmental and natural resource conflicts.  This approach builds long-term relationships and produces enduring on-the-ground results.

The EDR program encompasses four general categories of activity:

Academic instruction.  EDRP provides students at the S.J. Quinney College of Law and elsewhere 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.  EDRP has developed an Environmental Conflict Resolution course which was first offered to law and other graduate students in Spring 2013, and will be offered annually.  Law students receive Skills credit by participating in realistic simulations and writing a conflict assessment for a real-life environmental or natural resource issue.  They can also receive Directed Research credits by researching and writing case studies, without taking the Environmental Conflict Resolution course.

Public Education.  In order to expand the use of collaboration and mediation for environmental and natural resource conflicts in Utah and the Mountain West, EDRP 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.  EDRP will develop and share best practices, to expand the pool of competent third party neutrals (mediators and facilitators) available in Utah. 

Research and Analysis.  Through specific case studies as well as broader analysis, EDRP documents, evaluates and celebrates the extensive collaboration that is 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 on environmental issues to explore collaborative possibilities.

Process design, facilitation and mediation services. EDRP is available to “do the work” of environmental dispute resolution for select projects.  Services available include conflict assessment, process design and mediation/facilitation.  Clinical students have the opportunity to assist the professional neutral as appropriate in these cases. EDRP staff are also available as a conflict coach or mentor in specific cases. 

EDRP Year 1 Accomplishments

EDRP Year 2 Accomplishments

Current Projects


Public Education

Case Studies

EDRP Faculty and Staff

EDR Resources


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

A fund of the
Chicago Community Trust  



Michele Straube, Director
Environmental Dispute Resolution Program
Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
332 S. 1400 E., Room 101
Salt Lake City, UT  84112-0730
801-585-5516 (o); 801-581-6897 (fax)