On December 6 – 7, 2019, ACCORD founder Peter Adler and mediation professional Lou Chang brought together 24 practitioners in conflict resolution, collaboration, and peacebuilding from around the world for a Mediation and Conflict Management Master Class in Honolulu. The goals of the class were to stimulate collective foresight on the future of mediation while broadening and deepening the participants’ practices through shared learning and discussion.
Adler and Chang led a full discussion on the art and science of mediation, ranging in scale from a small interpersonal interaction to the larger public policy stage. “I was particularly interested [in this class], as I am regularly engaged in public policy disputes around natural resources management issues,” said Rich Wilson, Executive Director of Seatone Consulting. “I really gained a lot from this class, from networking with an amazingly diverse and talented set of peers, to learning a wide range of conflict management strategies and tactics, to brainstorming sessions where we, as class participants, explored how to further our practice in an increasingly polarized world.”
The class combined theory, including what it means to gain “mastery,” and practice, going through case studies and calling upon the experiences of those in the room. Participants could commiserate, reflect, inspire, and learn from each other as much as from Adler and Chang. “[They] created a rich peer-educational environment. It was illuminating to me to know that other practitioners face many of the same types of dilemmas and conundrums as I’ve faced in my work, but their alternative approaches and insights helped me to look anew at dealing with obstacles and problems,” shared Keith Mattson, President of Keith Mattson LLC.
The Master Class filled a need that Adler and Chang identified for advanced learning at the professional level. “As with any practice, it is necessary to take time to learn from others and reflect on your own work to improve the impact made by practitioners. It is even more vital in the world of building collaboration, mediation, and facilitation,” observes Adler.
The opportunity for professionals to learn from professionals is one that participants especially valued. “Peter and Lou have a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience in mediation and facilitation and conveyed this quite effectively in the short mediation mastery course. Their styles and experiences complement each other very well, and their combined teaching style made for a rich and multi-faceted exploration into the practice and art of effective mediation,” added Mattson, about his experience in the one-and-a-half-day master class.
Adler and Chang will be teaching more of these master classes with different participants, starting in Singapore in January 2020. Hopefully, the new participants will get as much benefit from it as the first class. As Wilson said, “This class was not only of practical benefit to me, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it was genuinely inspiring. I look forward to the next class!”