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Here’s Your Theory-of-Change Book


Your wait for the Theory-of-Change book is over.  I just posted this priceless volume, Theories of Change for the Dispute Resolution Movement: Actionable Ideas to Revitalize Our Movement.  It’s all yours, absolutely free!

For regular readers of this blog, most – but not all – of the pieces will be familiar.  Many are related to the Appreciating our Legacy and Engaging the Future Conference – aka Past-and-Future Conference – last summer or were in the online Theory-of-Change Symposium.  Some are oldies but goodies and others are brand new.

There are 63 tasty bite-size think pieces, averaging less than 4 pages each, written by 58 contributors.  They are included in the following sections:

  • Reflections on the Past-and-Future Conference
  • The Big Picture
  • Impact and Use of Technology
  • Legal Education
  • Professional Training and Practice
  • Research and Scholarship

The book includes introductions for each section, summarizing and synthesizing the pieces.

I suggest that you start by reading the overall introduction.  Then take a look at Noam Ebner’s piece on the zombie apocalypse (p. 38) – he’s been watching a lot of Star Wars lately.  (Star Wars aficionados will point out that technically there are no zombies in Star Wars, but there are a lot of weird and dangerous creatures constantly threatening cataclysms.)

If you feel complacent about our field after reading Noam’s piece, check to see if you have a pulse.

Assuming that you still have a pulse, you probably will want to pick and choose the pieces you want to read rather that reading the book from beginning to end.

This book has lots of ideas, but not plans or commitments to take any actions.  To be most effective, we would need to undertake some collaborative actions.  I synthesized the suggestions in the book into the following recommendations:

  • Develop clearer common language of dispute resolution
  • Redefine what we do and who we are
  • Integrate technology into all our work
  • Develop best practice standards
  • Redesign teaching and training curricula
  • Develop and implement a research agenda
  • Develop a searchable dispute resolution bibliographic database
  • Engage the major issues of our times with realistic plans and expectations
  • Attract “all hands on deck
  • Unbundle and prioritize our lives

As you read the book, consider if you want to collaborate in implementing any of these ideas.

I want to note a recurrent theme in many of the pieces.  Many people advocated redefining our work in terms of general skills rather than specific procedures such as negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.  I think that there’s a lot to this idea and encourage you to ponder it.

I also encourage you to share this book with others who you think might be interested.  If you are teaching a course, you might assign one or more of the pieces.  They are short, easy to read, and engaging.  Students are our future, and this may attract them to our community.  For example, you might assign students to choose a piece in this book, and write a paper or give a short class presentation about it, adding some commentary relating it to your course material.

The book is full of internal links making it easy to navigate throughout the document.  Authors often referred to other pieces in the symposium, much like a live event, and I have included links to the others’ pieces.  To return to a previous page in many pdf readers, hold the “alt” (or “crtl”) key and click “left arrow.”

I want to acknowledge and thank the contributors to this volume.  As you will see, there’s quite a range of people speaking with very different voices.  They are Rosa Abdelnour, Ava Abramowitz, Jim Alfini, Cynthia Alkon, Laurie Amaya, Lisa Amsler, Peter Benner, Debra Berman, Russ Bleemer, Michael Buenger, Alyson Carrel, Sarah Cole, Ben Cook, Chris Draper, Noam Ebner, Deb Eisenberg, Brian Farkas, Lara Fowler, Doug Frenkel, Steve Goldberg, Rebekah Gordon, Michael Green, Jill Gross, Chris Guthrie, Noah Hanft, Heather Heavin, David Henry, Howard Herman, Chris Honeyman, Charlie Irvine, Barney Jordaan, Jane Juliano, Michaela Keet, Randy Kiser, Russell Korobkin, Heather Kulp, John Lande, Michael Lang, Lela Love, Grande Lum, Andrew Mamo, Scott Maravilla, Woody Mosten, Jackie Nolan-Haley, Lydia Nussbaum, Rebecca Price, Nancy Rogers, Colin Rule, Amy Schmitz, Linda Seely, Donna Shestowsky, Jean Sternlight, Donna Stienstra, Kim Taylor, Tom Valenti, Rachel Viscomi, Nancy Welsh, Roselle Wissler, Doug Yarn.

The book doesn’t include photos of the contributors because it would make the document unwieldy.  So here’s an album with their mug shots.



John Lande

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California.… MORE >

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