Students gain an introduction to the benefits and limitations of mediation and other dispute resolution techniques so that they can responsibly counsel clients about their options to resolve conflicts.
In the classroom:
Students receive mediation skills training through simulations and analyze the ethical, systemic, and jurisprudential issues involved in the alternative dispute resolution movement. They consider how feelings, background values, intrinsic bias, and personal style affect performance in a professional role. Students also observe “neutrals,” aka mediators, at work in a variety of settings.
In the field:
Students mediate disputes at the Community Mediation Center at Safe Horizon, a nonprofit victim-assistance, advocacy, and violence prevention organization in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Cases include disputes between neighbors, roommates, and co-workers as well as business and organizational conflicts.
In addition, students work in Manhattan and Brooklyn civil courts, Harlem Small Claims Court, and the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution in the Bronx. There may be opportunities to handle disputes at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Students also serve as educators. They may have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned by providing training for diplomats from around the globe at the United Nations and for judges who are preparing for New York State’s new presumptive alternative dispute resolution initiative.
Mediations for the Columbia University Community
The clinic offers free and confidential dispute resolution for members of the university community.
The clinic’s students help resolve a range of campus issues including disrespectful treatment, noise complaints, harassment, assault, discrimination, and property damage. The clinic will take on cases between students, roommates, faculty members, and students, and/or co-workers.
With the help of neutral mediators, the parties in conflict sit down together and generate solutions. Mediators do not decide who is right or wrong. Instead, they help opposing parties communicate and, when appropriate, reach an agreement that respects the needs and interests of everyone involved.