Bridging Divides Negotiation, Mediation, Systems Design & Dialogue

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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Negotiating the Boundaries of Acceptable Pandemic Behavior: Takeaways from Conversations with First-Year Law Students Living with Roommates in 2020-2021

Living with roommates always necessitates some degree of negotiating boundaries. Even in non-pandemic times, roommates must decide norms around cleaning common spaces, communal versus individual use of food and cookware, and playing music. The COVID-19 pandemic added additional complexity, as it brought to the forefront many of the behaviors that roommates would traditionally not need to discuss. In the face of an infectious virus, roommates’ behaviors around indoor dining, in-person socializing, and hosting guests become key topics to communicate about, discuss, and ultimately negotiate.… More

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Draw and Importance of Alternative Dispute Resolution: Perspectives from HNMCP Student Leaders

by Valerie Gutmann ’23 Part I: How I Became Involved with and Interested in Alternative Dispute Resolution at HLS The first time I heard the phrase “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) was in the fall of 2020. I had just started at Harvard Law School (HLS) virtually, during a pandemic, and I was listening to the President… More

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Introducing our Fall 2021 Student Bloggers

We are excited to introduce two student writers who will be contributing recurring columns to our blog this fall. Kelly Murphy ’24 and Valerie Gutmann ’23 bring a diverse range of experiences to their current work in dispute resolution.  Both trained mediators, Kelly and Valerie will offer informed and thoughtful perspectives on not only mediation, but also… More

Monday, September 20, 2021

Tech Disruption: An Interview with HNMCP Clinical Fellow Oladeji Tiamiyu

Technology-driven change is coming to our community so the more dialogue we have, the more likely we can avoid harmful outputs while still harnessing the benefits.… More

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Tying it All Together: Creating Purpose-Built Infrastructures to Address Inter-bubble Conflicts

By Patrick Maxwell ‘21   To wrap up this blog series, let’s think back to the first entry of this series, and the concept of “conflict resolution infrastructure” that was introduced there. Conflict resolution infrastructure is the set of processes, decision rules, specialists, and sources of truth that govern how a conflict is managed—and as… More

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

When Norms Collide, Part 5: Essential Partners’ approach to inter-bubble conflict

By Patrick Maxwell    For this blog entry, I sat down with Nadiya Brock. Nadiya is an Associate at Essential Partners—a Cambridge-based organization that equips people to live and work better together in community by building trust and understanding across differences. The communities that Nadiya and Essential Partners work with often find themselves embroiled  in inter-bubble conflicts. Nadiya and I… More

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

When Norms Collide, Part 4: Interpersonal and National Inter-Bubble Conflicts—Two Stories

By Patrick Maxwell ‘21    The next entries of this blog series will focus on examples of inter-bubble conflicts from real life—and how those conflicts came to some kind of successful resolution. In this post, we’ll examine two vignettes of inter-bubble conflict. The first example is an interpersonal conflict, returning to the world of QAnon and conspiracy theories that we first referenced… More

Thursday, April 22, 2021

What Makes a Negotiation Win-Win? Exploring Perspectives, Mutability, and the Limits of Value Creation – Part 2

By Zekariah McNeal ‘21   The precursor to this post began a discussion for why negotiations are understood to be win-win or win-lose. Analyzing how the pre-agreement and post-agreement perspectives of a negotiator relate to this question, the previous post suggested that determining whether a negotiation is win-win is quite a complex endeavor. Although the… More

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

When Norms Collide, Part 3: How Inter-Bubble Conflicts Become Politicized and Polarized—And What This Means for ADR

By Patrick Maxwell ‘21    Many of the most salient examples of inter-bubble conflicts—in a US context, at least—take the form of “culture war” issues. The opening entry in this blog series referenced an interpersonal conflict stemming from the QAnon phenomenon, and hot-button issues like abortion or climate change certainly qualify as inter-bubble conflicts. The question then arises: are inter-bubble conflicts inherently “political”? And… More

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

When Norms Collide, Part 2 – Rights, Interests, and Power: Why Inter-Bubble Conflicts are so Hard to Resolve

by Patrick Maxwell ’21   This post is the second installment of a multi-part blog series by Patrick Maxwell, “When Norms Collide:  The (Growing?) Challenge of Inter-bubble Conflicts.”  The series will explore conflicts that cut across structures, groups, and worldviews—and what it may take to effectively navigate them. Read Part 1 here.   In the previous entry in this series, we… More

Monday, March 8, 2021

What Makes a Negotiation Win-Win? Exploring Perspectives, Mutability, and the Limits of Value Creation – Part 1

by Zekariah McNeal ’21   Consider this slightly altered version of a well-known example from Getting to Yes.1 Two children are fighting over an orange, when their mother discovers them and demands that they stop. “Why do you want the orange?” she asks them both. “To make orange juice!” answers the first child. “To make a cake with the orange… More

Thursday, March 4, 2021

When Norms Collide: Part 1—What is an “inter-bubble” conflict?

By Patrick Maxwell ‘21    This post is the first installment of a multi-part blog series by Patrick Maxwell, “When Norms Collide:  The (Growing?) Challenge of Inter-bubble Conflicts.”  The series will explore conflicts that cut across structures, groups, and worldviews—and what it may take to effectively navigate them.    Sandra, Alex, and QAnon Although Sandra and Alex had been friends for years, their relationship… More

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Truth Commissions as an Antidote to Unrest: Where Dialogue and Transparency Promote Reconciliation

by Oladeji Tiamiyu ’20   In recent months, America has experienced significant social upheaval, ranging from the nation-wide protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd to the attempted insurrection of the Capitol that led to the deaths of 5 individuals. In July 2020, Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia established truth commissions in… More

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Identity Commitments at the Negotiating Table

by Zekariah McNeal ’21 Identity often affects the substance of negotiations, not just the process. But this influence might be the most likely to remain unspoken.  Consider an employee who enters her employer’s office to ask for a raise. That employee might prepare for such a negotiation by gathering objective criteria such as comparable salaries, market trends,… More

Thursday, February 4, 2021

What Are We Learning About Convening Peace in a Pandemic?

The field of peace negotiations relies on extensive travel of the parties, mediators, and advisors. From 2018 to early 2020, a major component of my work portfolio was advising parties involved in Sudan’s civilian revolution and democratic transition, and advising delegations to the Sudanese Peace Process. So I spent a lot of time going back and forth to locations like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Paris, France; and Juba, South Sudan. On March 12, 2020, I woke up at around 6am in Juba, South Sudan, to prepare for another day of peace negotiations for Sudan. When I looked at my phone I quickly realized that instead, the United States had announced the start of flight and entry restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and borders were rapidly closing around the world. I was in transit back to Washington, D.C. by that afternoon, and the flights and airports were filled with internationals traveling home as countries locked down. Seemingly overnight the landscape of the peace processes changed, and for me this article was born out of being on my flights home thinking, “Well, we are all going to have to innovate.”… More

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Risk—and Relief—in Calls for Unity

President Biden ran on a campaign of unity, “restoring the soul of our nation.” These calls often resembled a pastor’s sermon more than policymaker’s plan, and suggested that division was not a symptom, but instead a harm in and of itself. . . . In President Biden’s view, it seems that division itself is what needs to be overcome. But how? Does his vision of unity include those who stormed the Capitol, or the lawmakers who refuse to denounce them? How do we achieve unity when the current moment also requires an unambiguous rejection of forms of violence? Is his unity a moral aspiration, or a political project? If it is the latter, how do we implement it?… More

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Remote but Robust: having difficult conversations virtually using best practices from crisis counseling 

“That is a conversation that probably needs to happen in person.”  We can all think of myriad personal and professional conversations that fall into this category:  Giving critical feedback to someone you manage; having a conversation with a family member about political views; talking a friend through the loss of a job; announcing big changes in company policy; onboarding a new employee and introducing them to their team; providing support for someone who has an ill loved one; introducing your parents to a new significant other.  The list could go on and on.  There are many moments in work and in life that prior to early 2020, you would have turned away from text, email, phone calls, or even video chats in favor of in-person communication.  But over the last nine months, our ability to build, maintain, and provide support in relationships has been largely – and suddenly – restricted to doing so through technology.  … More

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What we’ve learned from the election – no matter who wins 

Election Day has come and gone.  At this moment, we sit with anxious uncertainty about the outcome in the Presidential race, as key states continue to count the millions of legitimately cast votes that remain.  The color-coded maps are ubiquitous but incomplete, the pundits spin out endless speculative scenarios.  And we wait.  … More

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Reflecting on the Journey of “Thanks for Listening”

When we launched the “Thanks for Listening” podcast in the fall of 2018, our goal was to explore what seemed like deep and growing political polarization in the U.S., and to find out what was being done about it. We wanted to be able to tell a hopeful story about people and organizations who are working to “bridge the partisan divide in America,” as we said in the opening of each episode. And for both of the authors, hope was something we needed; the political and social dynamics at play at the time seemed to be posing dire stress tests to some of the basic premises of our work. … More

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

On Dispute Systems Design and Democratic Participation: Reimagining Voting 

By Deanna Pantin Parrish   American democracy is an almost 250-year-old dispute between “We, The People” and those elected to represent us.   Since America was an idea, voting has been a central mechanism for defining our collective identity and determining its representation. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton penned that it was for Americans “to decide …… More