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Teaching Conflict Management Courses: Part 2

Who are the teaching organisations?
There are at least five categories of teaching organizations in North America, and footprint jurisdictions, for the many conflict management courses described in Part 1.

  • Law Societies
  • University faculties, and definitely not only law faculties.  For example, DR is housed in business ( eg Northwestern); international relations, communications, psychology ( eg SMU); law (Pepperdine; Osgoode; Bond)
  • Private training businesses ( eg former CDR Associates, Boulder ; CEDR, London; CLEBC, Vancouver). Some of these go online and add remarkable, easily accessible, entertaining and random learning ( eg
  • Large organizations of DR professionals ( eg Association of Conflict Resolution –ACR; American Bar Assocation Section on Dispute Resolution—ABA; collaborative law groups etc).
  • In house training officers for mining companies; human relations divisions; ombudspersons; disaster relief agencies; judges; middle managers; school teachers; court and tribunal mediators; aboriginal bands etc.

Competition –Alleging “uniqueness”.
It is important to note that these five categories of teaching organizations are always in soft or direct competition with one another and within their own ranks, locally, nationally and internationally. They compete constantly, entering each others’ turf, and by searching out uncolonised parts of the globe—especially China, Indonesia, Russia, France, the horn of Africa and certain US states. They recycle old and new products like wandering minstrels around global coffee shops. They advertise by alleging “uniqueness”—of teachers from practice or theory backgrounds or both; of teaching and learning methods; curriculum ( “Mediation and ——“; “advanced—“; “Ensuring practical success by—“), networking and mature students; online access and backup; scintillating venues (Marriott, Italy, Greece, Vancouver or Malibu in the summer,), summer sunshine, great food, add-on holidays ( eg Pepperdine, SMU, Bond), brand name ( eg Harvard); wisdom of foreigners with quaint accents ( “men and women from Mars”); high employment rates of graduates; elation and satisfaction testimonials; national client “rankings”; longevity of existence; international “recognition” of training, status with some professional group etc.
Moreover, some organizations, such as Law Societies, can arrange key price advantage over the competing educational providers. This is because partners in law firms, mediators and other dispute resolution workers will readily lead excellent workshops for zero pay, ( or even make payments to law societies or conference organizations) in order to obtain valuable marketing exposure for themselves to an eager and select audience of potential hirers.
Public universities sometimes have a price advantage in these competitions as they are  substantially subsidized by taxpayers when offering occasional or systematic DR programs.
Of course, these worldwide competitive patterns, rarely lead to an organized and incremental learning curriculum in conflict management. Some universities  offer programs of incremental learning in conflict management to tiny audiences—eg Royal Roads, SMU.

Questions to Consider before the Next Article

  • To what extent is it possible for a budding or experienced DR practitioner to identify actual and desirable“learning paths” amidst these existing competing groups?
  • What path of learning is currently recommended by you to an enquirer about a DR career?  Role play the advice with your neighbour.
  • To what extent is there an agreed “core curriculum”—skills, goals and attitudes—for a DR practitioner? ( See the remarkable effort to create core curriculum for negotiation courses; Honeyman and Schneider (2004); and (2006))

One example of Career and Educational Pathway Advice

Here is a version of the advice given by the writer to many enquirers into DR education and career over the years—

  • Do not give up your day time job
  • Identify and write out from your current life experiences, what particular core skills, knowledge and attitudes you now think that you possess. Ask a wise and fearless friend to comment on your written self perceptions. (Be aware that they may soon be your former friend)
  • Write out a list of people who know you well and who you think might hire you as an HR officer; ombudsperson; trouble shooter; mediator; negotiator.
  • Read several articles by Marc Galanter; and read Fisher and Ury, Getting to Yes.
  • If still interested, make a toe in the water investment by attending a long standing well regarded 4-5 day mediation skills course; taught by pracademics (ie people who are both reputed researchers and practitioners). Be wary of the advertising for those many courses.
  •  If still interested, join a local mediation association; go to local DR conferences; volunteer to work for free at any DR office; begin reading more serious, respected and yet still understandable authors on DR—Galanter; Menkel Meadow; Lewicki;  Korobkin; Janet Johnston; Pruitt and Kim; Schneider and Honeyman,The Negotiator’s Fieldbook.
  • Try to apply your emerging skills, knowledge and attitudes to situations of conflict in your current workplace and life (an important challenge!!)
  • Read online snippet information in regularly.
  • Go to a national DR conference and network busily in the lobby.
  • If still interested, find university based teachers and courses, which are highly praised, and begin study part time of a sequence of subjects beginning with Theories of Conflict; Negotiation; Mediation; Mediation and/or counseling clinic; and then if still interested, into many possible course options thereafter. Write essays which relate to your current work and show these to work colleagues and bosses for comment, amendment and incorporation into workplace websites and training.
  • Don’t give up your daytime job.

John Wade

John Wade is an Emeritus Professor of Law at Bond University and was a practicing lawyer in Australia until 2012. John is a nationally and internationally acclaimed expert in dispute resolution, legal education and family law. For the last 40 years he has taught at two Australian, three Canadian, one… MORE >

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