Conflict Management

Course content

Most MSc candidates working with sustainability, natural resource management, the environment, land-use, nature conservation, development, landscape architecture or e.g. urban planning must collaborate across disciplines with representatives from other educations and sectors. As professionals in these fields, we have to act in conflicted situations with many stakeholders - as part of public policy decision making, planning, project implementation, public/private management - in face of an involved, diverse, often critical, even angry general public. Often times the media, local/national/international NGO’s, landowners, civil servants, politicians and activists will play a part, adding to the complexity, and perhaps escalation of the situation, with their strategic movements and dynamic interactions. 

Constructive management of complex and conflict laden situations is one of the key demands to actors in contemporary sustainable natural resource management – whether taking place in a public or private setting. To competently balance and negotiate between the many layers and dimensions of sustainability is at the core or this course. Systems thinking is launched as an approach to handle complexity and promote collaborative learning among different people.

Analysis and collaboration skills are trained in order to develop a qualified problem solving approach spanning different disciplines and cultures . Active stakeholder involvement is introduced as a key element in sustainable management. The course covers strategic thinking, process facilitation and collaborative learning as integrated elements in problem solving and sustainable conflict management. 

The course introduces a series of concrete conflict analysis and problem solving methods and tools. Through the use of qualitative methods, including interview techniques, the student is trained in uncovering, understanding and structuring knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of different stakeholders. 

The course uses concrete cases from natural resource management in Euro-American as well as developing countries contexts. Through exercises and project work the students can try various tools and approaches to conflict assessment and development of sustainable conflict management strategies.


MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management
MSc Programme in Nature Management
MSc Programme in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management

Learning outcome

The course aims to qualify the students to better understand, analyse and sustainably manage environmental conflict situations. 

The learning includes: 1) Basic concepts related to conflict and conflict dynamics, 2) Conflict assessment, strategy and management, and 3) Personal skills and contact to practice. 

After completing the course the student should be able to:

- Understand and analyse conflict at a basic level. 
- Understand fundamental theories and principles for cooperation, competition, negotiation and the causes of conflicts as well as their development and handling. 
- Understand fundamental problem solving theory, including learning theory. 
- Understand a problem solving (win-win) approach as against a competitive (win-lose) approach to negotiation and conflict resolution. 

- Apply concrete analytical tools and methods to specific real life situations. 
- Apply theories and principles to new situations through the characterisation and analysis of the problem situation and the development of suitable models for conflict resolution. 
- Reflect on and use the mutual connection between theory and practice. 
- Reflect upon basic concepts related to the cause, development and management of conflicts (e.g. trust, power and communication). 

- Understand and analyse conflict and transform into management strategy and action. 
- To asses environmental conflict situations, e.g. by conducting a stakeholder analysis, 
- Facilitate a decision making process with the participation of stakeholders. 
- Reflect upon own and others behaviour and response in relation to conflict situations, collaboration and decision making. 
- understand the value of self-monitoring and self-reflection and actually monitor and reflect on own performance and impact in conflict situations. 
- Discuss power, conflict management, democracy and decision making processes as well as underlying value questions.

Approx. 1/3 with lectures which aim to create overview and make connections between theory, methods and practice, approx. 1/3 practical and personal skills through exercises, approx. 1/3 assignment work in groups combining theory and practice.

The course is composed of alternating lectures, exercises and discussions. The lectures give overview of theory, examples of application in practice and make connections between different parts of conflict management. Exercises are made as well as written course assignments where theory and experiences are translated into practical analysis and advice. During the assignments the students work in groups with a concrete problem case relating typically to sustainable natural resource management, landscape- or urban planning, or e.g. wildlife protection. Hereby insight is gained into conditions under which decision making processes are made. The specific content of the course is adapted from year to year based on the composition of students. External specialists and practioners will be involved during lecturers/workshops.

See Absalon for a list of course literature.


Examples of literature are Daniels, S.E. and Walkers, G.B., Working through environmental conflict, the collaborative learning approach and Fisher, R. and Ury. Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. 


Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Feed-back is given at class- as well as group-level to the course assignments. Current feed-back is given in connection to (group) discussions and exercises held in class.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min.
Type of assessment details
Description of Examination: Individual oral examination based on pre-released questions. No time for preparation. The student is tested in relation to the syllabus and the core areas of competence of the course. Further, the student is tested in the specific themes and topics related to the students own group project report. Questions are broad and discussion oriented.
Exam registration requirements

Active participation in group assignment work and hand-in of a group assignment consisting of a limited number of hand-ins. Group assignment evaluated "passed".

Only certain aids allowed

For each examination question one A4 page with notes and one A4 page with diagrams for the presentation are allowed


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

The same as for the ordinary exam, i.e. active participation in group assignment work and hand-in of a group assignment consisting of a limited number of hand-ins. Group assignment evaluated "passed".

If the student has not submitted the assignment/the three hand ins, they must be submitted no later than two weeks before the reexamination. The assignments must be approved before reexamination

Criteria for exam assessment

To obtain the grade 12 the student must fullfil the Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 86
  • Theory exercises
  • 18
  • Practical exercises
  • 8
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 2
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of places might be reduced if you register in the late-registration period (BSc and MSc) or as a credit or single subject student.
Study Board of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Christian Gamborg   (3-6a6f6e47706d797635727c356b72)
  • Jens Emborg   (3-716c6c47706d797635727c356b72)
Saved on the 21-02-2024

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