Duke Divinity School (Map)
Abi Riak
(919) 660-3585

Conflict is a natural part of life and bound to occur, whether in the home, school, community, church, or workplace. However, the way we manage conflict has the potential to support personal, community, and institutional transformation. Leaders in all walks of life often have a responsibility to help others work through their conflicts, and yet many, if not most, leaders have not been introduced to the skills necessary to support effective conflict resolution nor do they have a deep understanding of their own relationship to conflict. In partnership with the Conflict Transformation Ministries of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Duke Center for Reconciliation will host a yearlong series of conversations about conflict transformation. The goal of this series is to help the Duke Divinity School community understand the skills necessary to deal effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. In addition to giving a short presentation and engaging participants’ questions, speakers will provide practical resources and lists of materials to help equip us in our journey to be more self-aware and more confident as we work in and on conflict.

The Hispanic House of Studies, the Methodist House of Studies, and the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative are co-sponsoring the series.

Registration is not required but is requested for the free series, which is open to the public.

Conflict Conversations

Your Brain on Conflict, Aug. 31, 2017 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Dr. Len White, Associate Professor of Neurology, Associate Director for Integrative Human Biological Sciences, and Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience at Duke University

Our brain influences how we interact with our environment, and our environment influences how our brain works.  How do you respond to conflict, and why do you respond that way? We can put to use our knowledge of brain function to shape how we think about and manage conflict.  Join Dr. Len White, a Duke neuroscientist, for a conversation about our amazing brains and how we can develop a better understanding of how our brains react unconsciously and automatically to stress and conflict and how to regulate our responses to conflict.

Understanding Implicit Bias, Sept. 13, 2017 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Rev. Chris Brady, Pastor, Wilson Temple United Methodist Church, Raleigh N.C.

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which include both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from explicit biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. We all have these biases and more often than not, these biases do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse. Join the Rev. Chris Brady for a conversation about implicit bias, how to begin to explore what yours are, and how to gradually unlearn our unhelpful implicit associations.

White Supremacy Culture, Oct. 4, 2017 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Dr. Tema Okun, Equity Fellows Program at Duke University

White supremacy culture is reproduced by all the institutions of our society. In particular the media, the education system, western science, and the Christian church have played central roles in reproducing the idea of white supremacy (i.e. that white is "normal," "better," "smarter," "holy" in contrast to black and other people and communities of color. What implications does this cultural reality have for our life together? What can each of us do to develop a deeper understanding of how white supremacy culture runs counter to the gospel call to reconciliation and how we can work towards dismantling racism? 

Boundaries and Relational Covenants, Oct. 31, 2017 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Rev. Beth M. Crissman, Blue Ridge District Superintendent and Missional Strategist, NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, Asheville, N.C.

Often conflict arises due to a lack of healthy boundaries or the transgression of boundaries. Personal boundaries define "what is me" and "what is not me." Communal boundaries describe "what is us" and "what is not us." Relational covenants help transform conflict by defining personal or communal boundaries. Created in community, relational covenants are useful, living documents that promote clarity and accountability in faith communities, families, workplaces, teams, clubs, and other settings.

Living in to Matthew 18: 15-20, Jan. 24, 2018 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Rev. Molly L. Shivers, Director of Conflict Transformation Ministries, NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, Chapel Hill, N.C.

When groups of human beings gather, there inevitably will be conflict when individuals express clashing wishes, needs, and desires. Nonetheless, conflict in and of itself is natural, normal and necessary for growth. Conflict can be damaging when it is not addressed in a faithful manner. In Matthew 18: 15-20, Jesus gives step-by-step instructions for navigating conflict in Christian community. In this session, participants will walk through Jesus’ guidelines for engaging conflict in Christian community and explore practical applications of Matthew 18: 15-20.

Active Listening, Feb. 7, 2018 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Rev. Chris Brady, Pastor, Wilson Temple United Methodist Church, Raleigh N.C.

Active listening is a communication technique used in counseling, training, and conflict resolution. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Listening actively is an incredibly powerful conflict resolution tool as most people will not listen or contribute to productive problem solving until they feel understood. It’s also harder than most people think! Join Rev. Chris Brady for an introduction to active listening and learn how it can improve your communication and conflict resolution skills.

Negotiation for Christian Leaders, March 21, 2018 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Grace J. Marsh, Executive Director, Elna B. Spaulding Conflict Resolution Center, Durham N.C.

Negotiation is something that we all do every day. Whether we are haggling over the price of a car or trying to convince our child to do their homework or talking to our manager about a salary increase or working with a church committee to define the order of worship, we are negotiating. Even though we do it every day, most people are not natural born negotiators. And yet negotiation is an important skill for Christian leaders, as it is often a reflection of our ability to navigate the shifts in Christian community. What does the Christian tradition teach us about negotiation, and how we can use think knowledge to engage both our head and our heart?

Join Grace Marsh from the Elna B. Spaulding Conflict Resolution Center to earn what goes into prioritizing principles of fairness and mutual benefit -- holding a win/win mentality while striving to preserve our relationship with others ensures a successful negotiation outcome.

Mediation for Christian Leaders, April 11, 2018 (12:20-1:20 p.m., 0013W): Grace J. Marsh, Executive Director, Elna B. Spaulding Conflict Resolution Center, Durham N.C.

Mediation is a method of helping people and their disputes through the use of a neutral third party, who assists them in reaching a voluntary agreement. Mediation is a method of handling conflict that has been used by many cultures throughout the ages. Most congregations have no rules or structure for helping people negotiate or collaborate, only procedures for voting or appealing to denominational authorities. Mediation can be viewed as a more authentically biblical form of conflict resolution than an adversarial system, following Jesus’ word about how his disciples were to deal with conflicts (Matthew 18; 1 Corinthians 6:1-7).

Parking information

All events will be held in the Divinity School. The event on Wednesday, Oct. 4t at 12:20 p.m., "White Supremacy Culture," will be held in room 0012 in the Westbrook building. All other events will be held in room 0013 in the Westbrook building. Additional information regarding directions and parking.