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Facing an Angry Public
Is Apology effective in diffusing public anger in our work?
Hosted by U.S. EPA
Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center

Additional media is available using the player above. Click the play button to listen.

(Course title has changed along with an update in content!  Previous course title was: "Apology - Is it a Tool for Conflict Prevention or Resolution???? (An Interactive Discussion Workshop)")

At one time or another it’s likely that each of us has faced anger from a citizen or regulated entity over actions that we took, or failed to take, in our roles with EPA. We have certainly encountered situations in which we feel sympathy for stakeholders who are in difficult situations through no fault of their own. And occasionally, we must deal with untrue statements about our organizations, our partners, or our programs. How we respond in these situations impacts whether we move forward with constructive relationships, or become bogged down in anger. An accumulating body of evidence indicates that apology has the power to heal rifts and allow parties to build a positive future.

This interactive discussion will examine whether--and if so, how and when-- there is a place for apology (big or little, informal or formal, private, personal or public) in dealing with those who are unhappy, angry or dissatisfied with the decisions that public officials make. What are the legal and ethical considerations and implications of apologizing? What make an apology effective?

This workshop includes an interactive presentation and discussion using video, case studies, and exercises in which participants evaluate and discuss the whether an apology is appropriate, and what makes an apology effective.  *Superfund DD, Walter Mugdan, is part of the video presentation and plans to be available for questions.*

AUDIENCE: This workshop is intended for RPMs, CICs, Regional Counsel, and Corrective Action Project Managers. Experienced staff will be able to contribute to discussions with their own experiences and will learn how to approach particularly difficult situations. Newer staff will get a grounding in the issues and will take away lessons to be applied in the future.

Training Partner - PATRICK FIELD is Managing Director at the Consensus Building Institute, associate Director of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program and Senior Fellow at the University of Montana Public Policy Research Initiative. Mr. Field has helped thousands of stakeholders reach agreement on land use, development and natural resource management issues across the US and Canada. He has also trained and advised governments as well as corporations, foundations and Native American groups. Co-author of the award-winning book Dealing with an Angry Public, Mr. Field is listed on the Roster of Dispute Resolution Professionals of the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. He holds a Masters in Urban Planning from MIT and a BA from Carleton College, summa cum laude. born and raised on a ranch in rural western Colorado, he currently resides in Watertown, MA.

This course is offered at no cost to participants.

For general information contact Margaret Ross by telephone at 202-564-3221 or via e-mail at

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