An update from the conflict management student.

July 21, 2008

Oh, where have I been? I know it’s been a while…

Things with school have been relaxed the last few weeks since I finished up my last two papers before my final major work: the report on my internship, which I am currently engaged in.

Let me take a step back. My last two papers both covered interesting topics. One was an overdue paper for a mandatory class I took in the first year which was something about conflict in Jewish history. It covered the Dreyfus Affair and the many perspectives through which to view the Antisemitism involved.

The second paper was a bit more interesting and personal to write – that was a study of adult children enduring their parents’ late-life divorce. It was based on a survey I did and some research; one of the conclusions of the paper is that there is simply not enough academic research out there (though I did read a few good articles).

The internship I’m doing is in online dispute resolution. It’s taking place on a wiki Q&A site that is based on a social community of members who ask and answer questions and work towards this global goal of creating a major source for quality Q&A. It’s very much in a growing stage right now and conflict resolution was a definite must for this community.

It’s been engaging so far and I should have lots to write about. Looking forward to sharing my insights.

Newsflash: No money in mediation.

March 11, 2008

In class yesterday we were discussing the ethical dilemmas with making mediation an obligation from the courts. The subject turned to mediators’ payment and how some courts are trying a new approach, making the first meeting with the mediator an obligation, but free for the disputants. That way, they don’t have to focus on the money in that first introduction but rather on the possibilities offered by the process.

One student rightly mentioned that there seemed to be a neutrality issue there; that the mediator had the incentive to convince the disputants that mediation is worthwhile because then they can get the case afterward (and get paid). My professor laughed and said, well, there’s not much money in mediation anyway (in Israel). Anyone who is a mediator is also doing something else to earn a living… Thousands of people take the mediation certification course and only a handful are actually practicing – and after that, only a handful are making a living off it.

Hmm… Not so encouraging, but I think I was prepared for that anyway. Mediation has a long way to go as a career field in Israel. I think it has to do with the general public learning what it means and why its beneficial. Lately I have been thinking about alternative kinds of manifestations of my conflict management degree, including online dispute resolution projects.

Conducting mediation online: Tips?

February 25, 2008

There is a possibility I might be able to start a project online, mediating/guiding for a group of people who work together. The group of people themselves work together online on a communal project and from time to time, as is human nature, there are feuds and communication issues.

I wrote a paper on Online Dispute Resolution about two years ago. I will dust that off and take a look. I’ve also been looking on YouTube for videos of mediation sessions, even though they aren’t online (it’s still fun for me to watch those).

What I really need is a mentor to help me get started. I need to be able to be some kind of internet-community liaison. For now, I’ll research the area, but I do wish there was a professor at my university who knew what the internet was. Ok, that’s harsh. But I  just need to know who/where to turn to for a bit of guidance.

Suggestions welcome!