Managing Conflict and Resolving Disputes Involving Students
on University Campuses: The Present and The Future
by Robyn Jacobson (PhD Dissertation, York University, 2012).

View the complete Dissertation.


This is the first in-depth research in Canada that analyzes what universities are presently doing to manage conflict and resolve disputes involving students and to propose what universities can do to best manage conflict in the future.

Interviews were conducted at 20 Ontario universities to gather primary data for this research. Interviewees with first-hand knowledge about student conflict identified the most difficult to resolve disputes: graduate students-supervisors, misconduct, mental health, and interpersonal disputes. These disputes are analyzed to:

  • comprehensively understand what is being done, and not done, at the universities;
  • provide possible solutions for these problematic disputes; and
  • extract recommendations that are generalizable for all universities to more effectively manage conflict and resolve disputes involving students.

The first step in developing strategies for the appropriate management of conflict is recognizing the difference between “conflicts” and “disputes”; consequently these terms are examined in the context of a university.  The existence and operation of Ombudspersons and Conflict Management Centres at universities are investigated, and the immense potential of these two systems to manage conflict and resolve disputes on campuses is analyzed.

This research culminated in the development of the 3P-Pathway for Conflict Management on Campuses: for every conflict and dispute that occurs on campus, there must be a Policy, a Person and/or a Process identified to deal with the conflict or dispute in order that an appropriate conflict management response occurs. In addition:

  • The 3 Ps (Policies, Persons, and Processes) must be infused with the commonly held and acknowledged values, goals, and guiding principles of the institution;
  • A culture of dispute resolution must be developed; and
  • The institution must strive for excellence in all that it does.

Ideally, universities should also have a centre where any dispute can be referred for resolution and a system of keeping abreast of conflict areas that are developing.

To eliminate the present disconnect or gap that exists between the conflicts and disputes occurring on campuses and a conflict-managed environment, it is recommended that all universities establish the 3P-Pathway for Conflict Management on Campuses.

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Managing Conflict in Schools: A Practical Guide
by Robyn Jacobson and Alan Rycroft

Managing Conflict in Schools: A Practical Guide is the definitive resource for dealing with conflicts inherent in schools. By arming educators with an understanding of the nature of conflict and step-by-step means to resolve disputes, this publication allows them to usher in positive changes in their environments.

Features and Benefits

This valuable resource helps educators, frustrated with unresolved or poorly resolved disputes, by providing them with:

  • An understanding of conflict – through plain language, a clear definition of conflict is established
  • Communication tools – that allow educators to help avoid conflict by delivering clear messages
  • Five-Step resolution process – that guides educators through dispute resolution in a progressive and logical manner
  • Mediation tactics – on how to use a third party to solve challenges
  • Tools to develop long-term solutions – by helping educators set up dispute resolution programs within their schools
  • Context-specific examples – that provide guidance on dealing with a wide range of conflicts that may arise within a school

By dealing with the principles that underlie conflict, this guide provides an answer to educators who want to take charge of the dispute resolution process and make a difference in their schools.

A Must-Have Book For:

Principals, Vice-Principals, Teachers, Admin Staff, Parents and Students

For more information or to order Managing Conflict in Schools: A Practical Guide, please visit the LexisNexis website.