Julie Macfarlane and Bernie Mayer, well-known specialists in mediation, have joined the Kroc Institute as adjunct professors of the practice.
Together Macfarlane and Mayer, who also happen to be married, have nearly 50 years of experience mediating conflicts. Macfarlane is a professor of law at the University of Windsor and Mayer is a professor of dispute resolution at the Werner Institute at Creighton University and a founder of CDR Associates, a conflict intervention firm based in Boulder, Colorado.
At the Kroc Institute, the couple is co-teaching the master’s level course “Advanced Conflict Engagement Skills.” The course combines theory with hands-on practice of conflict intervention skills, including building consensus, negotiating agreement, and identifying gender dynamics and cultural expectations.
“We hope to give students a stronger sense of how effective they can be in a conflict situation and what kind of role they can play as peacemakers,” Macfarlane says. Macfarlane and Mayer frequently use role-playing as a teaching tool. Students begin the course simulating conflicts between individuals and progress to multi-party conflicts.
Conflict engagement, Mayer says, is a relatively new term that describes a method for dealing with long-term disputes. Rather than seeking a quick resolution, its practitioners focuses on engaging with an issue over time and dismantling social structures that support injustice.
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