Communication and Conflict

Evelyn Ang, Lecturer

Course: COMMUN 192, SEM 001 (Full)
Class Number: 28529
Credits: 3 HU
Time: TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Place: MER G44
Course: COMMUN 192, SEM 002 (Full)
Class Number: 29432
Credits: 3 HU
Time: TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Place: MER G44

Course Description:

This course is an exploration of how interpersonal communication can support or hinder the development of social intelligence, especially in the way we handle conflicts. We will examine some pitfalls of interpersonal communication and the causes, consequences, and effects of conflict: important communication skills will be introduced that can allow us access to others’ views and experiences. We will identify differences in learning styles, communication preferences, conflict styles and conflict beliefs, through examination of our own profiles. We will explore some implications of culture on how people approach communication, including how our cultural lenses may influence methods for resolving interpersonal conflict, violence, justice, and forgiveness. The student will augment theory with experience. Emphasis throughout will be on developing communication skills, analytical ability, and critical thinking skills.

Work Involved:

Class attendance is required. In-class exercises and activities are purposefully designed to support active learning. Out-of-class work includes reading, reflective writing, and skill-building assignments. This class is not well-suited for a student who wants to read and regurgitate what he/she has been told. The grade is based on 500 points:

  • Participation 150 points
  • Quizes (6) 100
  • Class Journal 150
  • Course paper/project100

Extra credit opportunities are available, based on campus activities related to the content of the course.

Successful completion of the course will be gauged by the depth of ability to:

  1. demonstrate critical thinking skills through self-conscious learning
  2. practice active listening skills, identify pitfalls and weaknesses in others’ communication pattern
  3. identify various learning, communication, and conflict styles, and describe underlying assumptions and potential consequences on communication outcomes including some cultural influences
  4. grasp and practice the theory and skills of nonviolent communication
  5. relate communication concepts to real-life conflict situations through reflective writing and participation

Sample Reading:

The textbooks for the class are, tentatively:
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success, Karl Albrecht. 2006.  Jossey-Bass Publishing.  ISBN-10 0-7879-7938-4.
Bridges Not Walls, John Stewart. 2009.  McGraw-Hill Higher Education.  ISBN 0-07-338499-2.

From our module on forgiveness:  "'Choose Life' goes a popular saying, expressing a sentiment that is undeniably noble and good.  Yet in fact, we have little choice in the matter.  For life is a gift - one that chooses us.  Our decision is in what we do with that life, with how we endeavor to lead it - with how tenaciously, and wisely, we defend it; with how well we cope with its tragedies and hardships."  Ellis Cose, Bone to Pick: of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Reparation, and Revenge.

About the Instructor:

Evelyn Ang, a mediator and attorney, has extensive training and experience in mediation and dispute resolution, both as a practitioner and educator. She is a graduate of the Marquette University Law School (J.D. 1998), where she also completed a Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Marquette University Graduate School. She also has her M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She co-founded a community mediation program in Milwaukee, and was the first Executive Director of Peace Learning Center of Milwaukee, Inc.  She joined the faculty of the Communication Department in its Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution certificate program in 2003.

Evelyn’s current practice is focused on assisting organizations in crisis with large-group conflict facilitations. These organizations include non-profits, workplace groups, school and church groups, and community groups dealing with youth violence. These include the State Bar of Wisconsin's Fee Dispute Committee, Council of Better Business Bureaus, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U. S. Postal Service REDRESS program, and Milwaukee County Children's Court. Evelyn served on the Milwaukee School Board’s Task Force on Safe Schools and Violence Prevention in 2007-08. She is a member of the Interfaith Conference of Milwaukee’s Restorative Justice Committee, and volunteers for the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Community Conferencing. Evelyn was chosen for the Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars program for 2013-2014.

Evelyn Ang's class wrestling with conflict