22nd Annual Conflict Resolution Symposium


Conflict: Consciousness, Identity and Meaning-Making


PRE-Symposium Seminar
January 30 & 31, 2013

Normandin Hall, Saint Paul University
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Introduction to the Subject-Object Interview
Dr. Richard McGuigan & Dr. Nancy Popp

The Subject-Object Interview (SOI) is a semi-structured, open-ended interview designed to draw out the ways in which a person makes meaning from his or her experience. The interview was designed by Robert Kegan, PhD. and colleagues at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as the technical and methodological component of his Constructive-Developmental (CD) theory of psychological development. In his work, Kegan indentifies meaning-making as the “fundamental motion of human being,” and describes a continuum of meaning-making complexity or “structure,” marked by distinct and identifiable milestones along the way, from birth through adulthood. Understanding another’s meaning-making complexity and process is a powerful tool in being able to work together more harmoniously in all of our professional and personal pursuits.

In this introductory course, participants will be introduced to the fundamentals of CD theory and its methodology, the SOI. The course will pay particular attention to the important distinctions in CD theory between information and transformation, between the content and structure of meaning-making, and between meaning and behavior.

Why it is important for mediators and conflict analysts

Richard McGuigan did his doctoral research on conflict and developmental levels of consciousness using the Subject-Object interview developed by Harvard developmental psychologist, Robert Kegan. Each developmental level is set apart by a greater capacity to deal with and understand the complexity of situations. McGuigan demonstrated in his research that when people are faced with a level of complexity that they cannot deal with, they often go down a level, dealing with a conflict in a more simplistic way, making the conflict that much more intractable.

For any who are dealing with conflict, it is helpful to be intimately acquainted with the theory that lies behind the Subject-Object interview and the process itself. One way of understanding this is that it is the capacity of a self to observe one’s own thought and actions as an object of analysis. This can enhance one’s capacity to take a step back from the immediate emotional tugs of a tense situation and become aware, at a deep level, of what is going on inside one’s self.

This workshop is useful in two ways. First, it enhances the self-awareness of a mediator or analyst so that they can be conscious of how a conflict is affecting them. Second, it can provide better understandings of the parties to the conflict and how they have trouble understanding one another. For instance, if the two parties are at significantly different developmental levels of consciousness, the one who is comfortable with complexity will be frustrated by the black and white categories of the other who in turn will be exasperated by the “fuzzy” thinking of the complex thinker whose explanations go “over the head” of the other.

That McGuigan is a seasoned mediator means that he can make many connections with mediation practice. That Popp has worked extensively with Kegan means that she brings a depth of understanding of the theory and practice of Subject – Object interviews to the table.

As an added benefit, those who attend the workshop will have free access to the evening address by Robert Kegan and with the background of the workshop will have a deeper appreciation for and understanding of what Kegan presents.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be able to:

Instructional Support: In advance of the course each student will receive a course manual for pre-course review and familiarization of course content. 

Course cost per student: $495.00 full time students, $595.00 Not For Profit Organizations, $695.00 all others. Maximum of 20 students.

To register, e-mail crsymposium@ustpaul.ca with the following information.

Payment will be made at registration at the beginning of the workshop.

For more information call Vern Neufeld Redekop at 613-236-1393 x 2369

"Conflict and the Self-Transforming Mind: An Adult-Developmental Perspective"

Dr. Robert Keagan

Thursday, January 31, 2013, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Amphitheatre, Saint Paul University

Dr. Robert Keagan is an Internationally Renowned Identity Theorist, and Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development, Harvard University. 

What is the relationship between conflict and the development of mind and consciousness? Does our capacity for understanding the complexity of a situation change how we act in conflict situations? Does conflict contribute to our development? If so, under what circumstances?

The address will be in English with a synopsis in French. Click on this link for further details.

Cost: $10 for those not registered for the Symposium

This lecture is also the Keynote Address for the 22nd Annual Symposium on Conflict Resolution with the theme Conflict: Consciousness, Identity and Meaning-Making, which continues at the RA Centre on Friday, February 1 and at Saint Paul University on Saturday morning, February 2nd, 2013.



Friday, February 1 , 2013, 8:00 am – 7:00pm
R.A. Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, Canada


This year’s themes are concerned with the manner in which issues of identity, consciousness and meaning-making impact on the conflict resolution process. We know that un-met identity needs often play a significant role in conflict, from the most intimate interpersonal conflicts, to large scale inter-ethnic or inter-group conflicts. And yet, how deeply do we really understand the relationship between identity and conflict? Why is one person’s identity and need for recognition so different from another’s?; and how does this impact the conflict resolution or mediation process?

Likewise, we know from experience that parties to a conflict often have different interpretations of the causes and consequences of the conflicts they are engaged in, and may even place different interpretations on the same facts. What role does consciousness or identity play in the way parties filter information about their conflict? As conflict interveners, how far is our own practice shaped by our consciousness or identity? How can we know what a conflict means to others? How do we intervene when we think the conflict is about something different from what the parties themselves say?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Emilie Simonet at crsymposium@ustpaul.ca.

Click on this link to explore the program in further detail.