The Wallace Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program, established in February 2012, has continued its multi-pronged approach to promoting collaboration, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental and natural resource conflicts in the Mountain West.
In August 2017, Michele Straube retired from her role as Director of the EDR Program. Dr. Danya Rumore, previously the Associate Director, became the Director of the program in July 2017. Theresa Jensen joined the program in summer 2017 as a Senior Mediator and Associate Director. Ms. Jensen has been a dispute resolution professional in Oregon for over three decades, with expertise in building consensus among diverse parties in complex natural resource, environmental, and public policy disputes. Please see her faculty update for additional information.
In the past year, the EDR Program has worked with and mentored multiple graduate students from the College of Law, the City and Metropolitan Planning Department, and the Environmental Humanities Program at the University of Utah. The EDR Program also hosted a summer fellow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2017-18, the EDR Program anticipates that it will continue to work with diverse graduate students from both the University of Utah and elsewhere.
The EDR Program continues to host the Utah Program on Collaboration, a three-part effort aimed at cultivating and enhancing a culture of collaboration throughout Utah. The Program on Collaboration was kicked off in November 2015 with a full-day Forum on Collaboration that engaged high-level state and federal natural resource and environmental agency leaders in exploring opportunities and challenges for collaboration in Utah. The EDR Program hosts semi-annual Dialogues on Collaboration in partnership with The Langdon Group and other partners, including two in the 2016-17 year: one on “Working with Tribes: What Can Collaboration Bring to the Table?” and one on “Fostering Productive Dialogue in Divided Times.” The third part of the program, the Short Course on Effective Natural Resources Collaboration, is an annual professional training program teaching the art and science of collaborative problem solving. The 2017 Short Course is currently underway with a cohort of 19 diverse environmental and natural resources stakeholders from all levels of government, corporations, NGOs, tribes, legislative staff, and consultants. The EDR Program received a grant from the Wagner Charitable Foundation to provide scholarships to ensure diverse representation in the 2017 Short Course.
During 2017, the EDR Program hosted the national conferences of the University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG) and Association for Conflict Resolution Environmental and Public Policy Section (ACR EPP) at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. The program initiated efforts to build the collaborative capacity of US Forest Service Region 4 and also designed and conducted a facilitation training for City of Salt Lake staff. Former Director Straube aided the La Sal Sustainability Collaborative in successfully reaching agreement on grazing and land management recommendations; transitioned facilitation of the Escalante River Watershed Partnership to a private sector facilitator; and completed the development of a series of new collaboration training simulations, with funding from a Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation special projects grant. Director Rumore secured a $95,000 grant from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities to advance the EDR Program’s work with gateway and amenity communities throughout the Mountain West. She is in the process of launching a cross-University of Utah Gateway and Amenity Community Initiative.
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. Director Rumore continues to provide facilitation for ongoing efforts, including collaborative regional planning efforts around Zion National Park, Utah, and in Bonner County, Idaho. She also serves on the Steering Committee for the national University Network on Collaborative Governance and the University of Utah’s Global Change and Sustainability Center. Additionally, EDR Program staff members continue to teach courses on negotiation, dispute resolution, and conflict management for the College of Law and the City and Metropolitan Planning Department and frequently give invited guest talks and presentations.