Intercultural Dispute Resolution

Subject LAWS90021 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Conflicts with intercultural dimensions are ubiquitous in today’s legal practice. Lawyers need cultural fluency to navigate and manage diverse values and expectation, communication norms, and worldviews. Cultural fluency is the ability to communicate and problem-solve across a wide range of differences. As the roles of lawyers change and a growing accent is placed on effective negotiation, the importance of cultural fluency only increases. Experiential education will be used to explore processes, capacities, and creative tools for addressing intercultural conflict. This subject will apply theory, research and practical skills to a variety of practice contexts, integrating insights from neuroscience research.

Drawing on current interdisciplinary literature and case examples from scholarly and personal sources, students will:

  • Explore intrapersonal, interpersonal and intergroup dynamics of intercultural disputes
  • Learn about processes to address deep-rooted intercultural conflict
  • Examine and critique cultural dimensions of conventional dispute resolution processes including in-person and online mediation
  • Analyse implicit meanings and cultural values of a continuum of dispute resolution processes as applied in a variety of sectors and settings, including private and public sector organisations and communities
  • Identify ways that chaos, complexity and neuroscientific theories inform conflict analysis and implications for dispute process design
  • Experience and apply imaginative and creative tools for transforming cultural disputes
  • Experiment with somatic, arts-based methodologies including applications and limitations in intercultural dispute intervention
  • Apply cultural fluency in a range of case types and practice settings through small-group discussion and practice outside the classroom.

Successful completion of the course will expand participants’ abilities for culturally- fluent analysis, intervention and follow-up as third parties, participants or advocates in negotiation and dispute resolution processes. Participants will learn valuable skills of integrative thinking and creativity through experiential exercises and the final paper.

Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Articulate and critically reflect on comparative theoretical and philosophical values and constructs shaping dispute resolution processes and programs as they are becoming institutionalized in Australia and elsewhere
  • Critically evaluate existing and alternative dispute resolution processes in relation to cultural fluency
  • Apply a range of tools to effectively manage conflict across cultures informed by neuroscientific research and the latest work on intercultural conflict management
  • Demonstrate cultural fluency in communication, problem-solving and advocacy in relation to a range of legal problems
  • Engage in ongoing self-reflection and skills development to increase sensitivity and adeptness in addressing complex disputes
  • Provide meaningful input into dispute system process design for private clients and public programs based on sound theoretical understandings
  • Consistently infuse creativity in negotiation, problem-solving and advocacy to enhance their capacity for effective legal work.

10,000 word research paper (100%) (5 August) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Dispute Resolution
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Commercial Law
Master of Law and Development
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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