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To Build or Not To Build? Roleplay for Conflict Management
A role-playing approach to conflict management that helps students understand the complexity of decision-making and the role of coalitions therein.

By: Valerie Brachya (Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research)

Session type: Single session, Graduate level, Small/Medium size


  • Conflict management

  • Multi-stakeholder interactions

  • Energy consumption

  • Policy / Governance

  • Role-playing


Introduction to the teaching example:

The goal of this task is to demonstrate how complex dispute resolution is with regard to sustainable consumption. Additionally, the activity aims to help students grasp the significance that coalitions serve in the resolution of disputes.


A week before the class, students receive a scenario activity and stakeholder roles. The simulation, which potentially may be applied to other situations, focuses on the potential addition of new electricity-generating units to the current Ashkelon power plant. In role-playing, some students take the identities of Committee Members who represent various government ministries, local governments, and civil society organizations, while others take the roles of Objectors. Prior to class, they elaborate on their professions, positions, and interests. Additional details about their identities are given to them, but they are not to be discussed among classmates; instead, they are incorporated into the role-playing.


The class members sit around a table like a Committee during the 90-minute presentation of the proposed project by the Proponent. Objectors are then given a brief opportunity to offer their arguments before being instructed to keep silent and only participate in the meeting by observing. In order to decide whether to build further energy-producing units at the current Ashkelon power station, the Committee Members then hold a committee meeting. They are expected to perform their roles as closely as they can.


The instructor serves as the committee's chair, grants the right to speak, solicits clarifications, provides additional information, invites members to discuss the proposal, intervenes to suggest potential compromises, secures commitments (such as financial backing for renewable energy or a hospital), and suggests decisions that might be satisfactory to the entire committee. To postpone decision-making, the chair might recommend a field trip to the site. The Chair rarely utilizes its exclusive Chairman's casting vote to make the final decision. At the end of the presentation and discussion, students reflect on their experience and brainstorm ways to strategically navigate the dispute resolution process.

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