Tuesday, September 14, 2021

URSP Student Sarah Abbas Studies Organizational and Interpersonal Conflict within Correctional Facilities

 Conflict is everywhere. Conflict and it’s resolution contain personal, relational, structural and cultural dimensions. There are several ways one can go about resolving conflict. Some are more constructive than others. It is paramount to analyze and examine the various dimensions of social interactions that lead to conflict situations. Such can be done through theories, models and frameworks for analyzing, engaging and resolving conflict. I have always been interested in creatively and strategically managing conflicts that hinder the performance and organizational improvement among groups because often, dysfunctional organizations do not perform as well.

I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution with an individualized concentration in Law and Justice. Following graduation, I aspire to apply my education to help research and resolve the process of conflict within various criminal justice organizations. 

My summer research specifically takes a look at organizational and interpersonal conflict within correctional facilities. When it comes to organizations like various departments of corrections, it is paramount to ensure that conflicts are constructively managed or resolved, because the services provided directly influence the personal lives of many. My USRP project, The Role of Power in Interpersonal Conflict Between Carceral Residents and Correctional Officers is aimed at taking the critical first step in resolving conflicts, unpacking and examining the deep layers and roots of the problem. I am collecting data through a questionnaire. Ideally my data will allow me to identify patterns and systems of interpersonal conflict in correctional facility settings. I mainly am taking a look at the role of power. My questions aim at measuring the perceived power of inmates and CO’s and examining the role it plays in interpersonal conflict. 

I am working with a research team that is also collecting data for their specific projects. Due to COVID-19, we had to quickly adapt to conducting research in the pandemic. Initially our plan was to collect data by observing, interviewing, and collecting field notes in person. Due to complications with the facilities, such was not feasible. Then, we planned to gather data by holding interviews virtually. That wasn’t feasible either. We had to be very flexible and creative in order to overcome the challenges that come with conducting research with a vulnerable population during the pandemic. Our team met a lot and discussed the best ways to react to this rapidly changing and unpredictable situation. We decided to mail residents who have previously mailed us and consented to receiving mail. We had to submit a new proposal for IRB approval. which delayed our entire data collection process. The new proposal was finally approved late June. Our team met, prepared the envelopes, and mailed them out. Now I am awaiting responses to my section of the questionnaire. I am planning on interpreting the data as it comes in. This experience taught me the importance of flexible, creative problem solving, and working as a team. I did not realize how unpredictable research can be. In school, I learned about how important planning and structure is when conducting research, but I never learned about the fluctuating nature of research in the real world. This experience definitely taught me that