Combining research and practice, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies within the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs launched a mediation program at the beginning of this academic year. The program focuses primarily on building synergy between mediation research, teaching, training, policy and practice and is led by Professor of the Practice of Mediation Laurie Nathan, a senior mediation adviser to the United Nations.
“The mediation program is an important part of Kroc’s new strategic plan that emphasizes the connection between research and practice,” said Asher Kaufman, John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute. “Laurie Nathan is a global leader in the practice of international mediation and at the same time is also a leading scholar on mediation and conflict prevention. He embodies the model of a reflective practitioner that we support at the Kroc Institute.”
Nathan has extensive international mediation experience with the U.N. and with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in the Horn of Africa. He is the lead designer and trainer of the U.N. High Level Mediation Course that aims to deepen participants’ knowledge and skills relating to mediation in high-intensity conflicts such as those in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“In many cases of armed conflict, mediation is the difference between war and peace. It has become the primary peacemaking strategy in civil wars in particular,” said Nathan. “As one of the leading peace institutes in the world, the Kroc Institute has a rare combination of serious scholarly work and committed policy and practitioner engagement. This is exactly the right place to house the new mediation program.”
This fall, Nathan is teaching the course “Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice of Mediation.” He hopes that, as the program grows, it will attract undergraduate and graduate students from around the world who wish to specialize in mediation research and practice. Nathan will also curate a hub for mediation resources housed on the Kroc Institute’s website.
“What we are offering students is not only theory and knowledge of the main scholarly debates, but also insight into the actual experience of mediation,” said Nathan. “Mediation usually happens behind closed doors, and it therefore cannot be observed directly by students and researchers. I am able to draw on my own experience, and that of other seasoned mediators, to give students a sense of what happens during mediated negotiations.”
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