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Facilitation Approaches for Potentially Explosive Public Interactions
Advanced level training
Hosted by U.S. EPA, Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch
Community Involvement University (CIU)

What is the course overview?
This course provides participants with information and in-depth discussion about facilitation approaches for real-life potentially explosive public interactions, plus practice sessions where participants use the skills and techniques discussed throughout the course. Emphasis is placed on discussion and instruction in handling complex situations in a public setting including hostile audiences, difficult people, potentially explosive situations, etc.

Who should take this course?
This course is recommended for those who are responsible for planning and/or facilitating large agency-sponsored public meetings, CAG meetings, community based meetings, long-term multi-party meetings with diverse stakeholders, etc. Although this course is designed for those with facilitation experience, entry level staffers are welcome to attend because the different levels of experience tend to make the course more interactive and a richer experience for all those who attend.

What are the course learning objectives?

Participants who complete this course will gain skills on how to:

  • Plan meetings to avoid unnecessary difficulties;
  • Engage difficult parties and/or participants before meetings to avoid problems;
  • Structure meetings and plan agendas to avoid difficulties;
  • Manage disruptive behavior if it does emerge;
  • Respond to difficult questions and situations; and
  • Follow-up with key parties after difficult or explosive public events.

What are the logistics?
This one and one-half days course includes interactive exercises designed to provide students with opportunities to practice the skills discussed. The session leader will seek the active involvement of participants in how they have seen the various discussed techniques used - or not used - in their own project experience. Recommended course size is 15-20 participants.

Marion Cox of Re♦Source Associates teaches this course. She has developed and delivered training courses in all EPA regions since 1981. Her courses include public involvement planning, working effectively with communities and diverse stakeholders, conflict management and negotiation, handling hostile audiences and situations, team-building and team management, and collaborative planning. Her work is focused primarily on Agency interactions with communities, state and local regulatory agencies, and with other key stakeholder groups.

Is there available background material?
There is no recommended background material.

For general information contact Tina Conley by telephone at 703-603-0696 or via e-mail at

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