This morning I received the following information about useful materials on legislative negotiation from Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard Kennedy School:

In this moment of great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 virus and the difficulties of producing legislation in the divided political settings of Congress and many of the state legislatures, I write to share with you the newly developed tools for improved legislative negotiation developed recently at the Harvard Kennedy School. These tools result from a culmination of several years of hard work by a team of scholars working in the Legislative Negotiation Project at the Harvard Kennedy School to develop a range of cases and simulations for teaching legislative negotiation tactics at the state and congressional level. The project, made possible through the generous support of the Madison Initiative of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is intended to fill a void in the practice and scholarship in the field of negotiation by adapting and augmenting lessons from forty years of work on negotiation specifically for legislative negotiation. Our team has created teaching materials written specifically for federal and state legislatures in order to equip those legislators with the tools to forge mutually acceptable policy solutions to the country’s problems.

Although legislators come from diverse professional backgrounds and often have considerable practical experience in negotiation, even the most experienced negotiator can learn from formal training in how to negotiate effectively. Negotiating in a legislative setting is often far more complex than business negotiation — and integral to the success of the legislative process.   The resulting case studies, simulations, and exercises are now available, without charge, to any qualified instructor in negotiation. They are the first materials ever developed for teaching legislative negotiation.

The new Program on Legislative Negotiation at American University is using these materials in their courses and, with the expertise of negotiation faculty at the Kennedy School, for work with the Library of Congress conducting advanced legislative staff training on Capitol Hill. The response has been strongly enthusiastic across both sides of the aisle, as high-level Republican and Democratic staff have reported enhanced capacity to handle seemingly intractable problems. The materials have also met with enthusiasm among state legislators when introduced in sessions in the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

I encourage you to explore these teaching materials to see how they may fit into your existing courses. I believe that instructors at institutions across the country will find it useful to incorporate this pathbreaking work into their own teaching — both on Congress, in departments of political science, and on negotiation, in law schools, business schools, and policy schools.