Course on environmental conflict mediation gathers international students at UEF

The course on environmental collaboration and conflict resolution brings together students from 19 different countries at the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu Campus, from 20 to 24 August 2018. The course is organized in collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Agder in Norway, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and ALL-YOUTH and CORE research projects, and is funded by the Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University Network (NOVA) and the Strategic Research Council (SRC).

The course, entitled Environmental collaboration and conflict resolution: The Crossroads of Forestry, Ecosystem Services and Wildlife, is intended for PhD students in forestry and environmental sciences. The course seeks to further understanding of environmental conflicts and the possibilities of mitigating conflicts through collaborative management, mediation and participatory interventions. The course is both academic and practice-driven.

The responsible UEF teachers from the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, Professor Irmeli Mustalahti and Senior Researcher Antti Erkkilä, emphasize that environmental experts are increasingly required to anticipate, identify and mediate conflicts. These skills should be widely taught to various professionals.

“Skills of collaboration and mediation should be considered as civic education and their teaching should be emphasized in the same way as first aid skills” says Mustalahti.

During the course, students will present their experience of the social conflicts that they have encountered in the governance of natural resources. Training provides research-based methods at the international level for opening, managing and mediating environmental conflicts. The conflict situations discussed in the course are related, for example, to forestry, tourism and nature conservation. Students gain practical experience of Finnish nature on a day trip to Kivilahti in Ilomantsi.

One of the international teachers of the course is Mara Hernández, Professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE, Mexico), where she coordinates the program on negotiations, mediation and dialogue. Her research investigates the quality of deliberation and the effectiveness of negotiation practices deployed by reform champions seeking policy change. She holds a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA), where she specialized in negotiation and democratic theory, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. She is also a certified mediator from Harvard Law School. Professor Hernández is a founding member of the Consensus Building Institute’s global network.

The course organizers include ALL-YOUTH and CORE research projects funded by the Finnish Strategic Research Council (SRC). ALL-YOUTH explores the capacities of young people and the obstacles that hamper their engagement with society, as well as the visions of youth regarding a sustainable future, growth and well-being. CORE builds on notions of interdependence and collaborative governance as responses to complex societal problems, and seeks practices for creating fair, efficient and knowledge-based solutions to complex problems related to environment and use of natural resources.

The course is part of the NOVA PhD course series on environmental collaboration and conflict resolution. Courses have been held earlier at the University of Eastern Finland in 2016 and at the University of Copenhagen in 2017. The course in 2019 will be organized by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and held at the University of Agder in Norway.

Further information:

Irmeli Mustalahti, Professor of Social-Scientific Bioeconomy Research, irmeli.mustalahti(at), p. +358 50 5632071

Course website:

ALL-YOUTH Research Project:

CORE Research Project: