This past June, our HNMCP team held our annual staff retreat at a center near Walden Pond, in Concord, MA, where Henry David Thoreau lived and wrote in the nearby woods for two years. In reflecting on why he left these woods, Thoreau wrote, “I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.”
Thoreau’s words articulate a spirit of examination and re-examination—of our maturing field of conflict engagement, and of our own offerings at HNMCP—that has marked our year here at the clinic. At the same time as we remain firmly grounded in our core mission and activities, we are excited to share new directions in our work that are prompting a renewed sense of energy, curiosity, and engagement with the world around us.
In fall 2019, we changed the name of our clinic to the Harvard Dispute Systems Design Clinic, to better represent the breadth of our pedagogical focus and the work we do. The DSD Clinic will continue to live under the HNMCP umbrella, which has always been a home not only for our clinical projects, but also for the many initiatives, advanced courses, and student organizations that explore and further the work of conflict engagement.
This past year we had a terrific slate of projects in the DSD Clinic that afforded us the opportunity to engage with dispute systems large and small, both private and at the state and federal agency level. You can read more about our projects at the links below:
- Ombuds Office at Grinnell College
- New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
- Project Place
- Restorative Response Baltimore
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York Mediation Program
- U.S. Office of Special Counsel
- Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate
- Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
- Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration
- New Hampshire Court Improvement Project
- Office of the Suffolk County District Attorney
We’re very excited to announce some staff changes and additions beginning this summer. Rachel Krol and Sara del Nido Budish, Clinical Instructors at HNMCP and Lecturers on Law in the Negotiation Workshop, have been promoted to co-Assistant Directors. You can read more about their specific roles here. We also welcome our new Clinical Fellow, Morgan Franklin, and our new Clinical Instructor, Deanna Parrish. We couldn’t be more thrilled with our team!
Our podcast, Thanks for Listening, launched in fall 2018, and we are four episodes into our journey across the country to feature people and organizations that are working to bridge political divides. Our latest episode brought us to Letcher County, Kentucky, where a group called Roadside Theater is challenging communities to rethink the notion of divides, and helping to forge new connections and create opportunity through theater. Our first episode explored the challenges (and potential rewards) of engaging with close family and friends about divisive political issues – including during the holiday season. The second episode shifted the spotlight to teens, exploring why youth are uniquely able to engage in complex dialogue, and featuring an incredible group of high school students who not only exchanged views about some of the most challenging political questions of the day, but also tried to come up with policy solutions that drew on common ground. And in our third episode, we heard about the community conversations in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, that were meant to help heal the community after Philando Castile’s death, and the unexpected impact they had on Castile’s close friend. Our next episode will feature participants from Hands Across the Hills, and work is underway for future episodes on proactive dialogue work, the role of social media, and efforts to bridge the divide in Congress. You can find the episodes on our website, Apple podcasts, Soundcloud, and Stitchr. We’d love to hear your feedback!
Our students continue to inspire us with their innovation, dedication, and creativity. For the second year in a row, a team of Harvard Law School students won recognition as the best negotiating team at the CPR International Mediation Competition in São Paulo, Brazil. Brayden Koslowsky ’19 wrote about the competition for us and we’re pleased to feature that story here.
In addition, this spring we sat down with student Margaret Huang ’19, and are excited to share her story with you. Inspired by seminal Supreme Court cases like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education, Margaret came to law school looking for tools for combat systemic racial and economic inequalities. However, by providing new frameworks for analyzing problems, her experience learning about alternative dispute resolution has expanded her theory for how change happens.
On the client side, we’ve been so lucky to work several times with former HNMCP Clinical Instructor Heather Kulp, now Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator at the New Hampshire Judicial Branch and Professor of Practice at Bay Path University. Heather writes eloquently about her experience as a client on three projects with HNMCP students and how the projects helped her consider “what someone who is incarcerated, or poor, or a survivor of domestic violence might be experiencing in any court process.” Read Heather’s thoughts here.
We strive to introduce our students to a wide variety of ways they can use the skills we teach out in “the real world” by bringing practitioners into the classroom. This past spring, assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston George Varghese shared stories from his career—from the Boston Marathon bombing to a deadly meningitis outbreak—with the Negotiation Workshop. You can read more about how Varghese uses negotiation skills in his career at HLS Today.
Finally, this year our staff was excited to connect with many of our colleagues at gatherings across the country. Staff members attended and presented at the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Conference, the Clinical Legal Education Association New Clinicians Conference, and the “Appreciating our Legacy and Engaging our Future” conference for dispute resolution teachers, scholars, and leaders at Pepperdine University. We feel blessed and invigorated to have met and talked to so many amazing thinkers and practitioners and to have learned what they are bringing to their fields.
We invite and welcome you to share your news with us, as well as projects that are prompting your own Thoreauvian examination and exploration
Rachel Viscomi ’01
Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program
Assistant Clinical Professor, Harvard Law School