Thursday, February 9, 2012

Harvard Mediation Program Looking Forward to Another 30 Years

By Elizabeth Bailey ’12, Vicki Blohm ’12, Matt Parker ’12, Hema Patel ’13, and David Zins ’12

Having celebrated its 30th anniversary last spring, the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP) is inaugurating a new era with a flurry of training offerings for its members, a review of its training

curriculum, and a reinvigorated sense of community.

This fall, HMP welcomed in another wonderful class of trainees with four days of basic mediation training in October. In addition, HMP held advanced trainings on mediation skills in the corporate world and the psychology of mediation. Elaine Lin (HLS ’10 and current HMP community member) led a hands-on workshop on different ways that mediation skills can be put to use in real-world business contexts. David Hoffman ’84 (founder of Boston Law Collaborative and lecturer at HLS) and Dr. Richard Wolman (clinical psychologist, teacher and researcher) delivered an exciting presentation exploring the psychodynamics of mediations. Both trainings were very well-attended and engaging. We are looking forward to providing additional opportunities to broaden our mediation skills this spring.

Fall 2011 also featured the start of a comprehensive review of the HMP training curriculum. In September, HMP convened a committee of students, community members, faculty, and staff to review its training curriculum for new mediators. Through this review, HMP aims to make its renowned mediation training even better. The curriculum review committee began its work through engaging a variety of stakeholders — including court liaisons, trainers, coaches, and trainees — to learn what works best in training, and how it might be improved. Based on these initial conversations, the committee will sharpen the curriculum’s focus on developing “micro-skills” to help mediators navigate challenging moments during mediation. The committee will also experiment with introducing pedagogical innovations, such as fishbowling simulated mediations and using video footage from mediations, to enrich the learning experience for trainees. As part of curriculum review, the committee will also develop more extensive “train the trainers” and “coach the coaches” training sessions and materials to support its fabulous trainers and coaches, all of whom are volunteers from HMP. The curriculum review process is off to an extremely promising start, and may ultimately continue into 2012–2013.

In addition to trainings and the curriculum review, HMP has worked hard this year to increase the sense of community, both within HMP and in the ADR community at HLS. We started off the fall with a dessert hour in the HMP office, followed by a pizza and movie night with the Negotiators and HNLR. To celebrate Halloween we again collaborated with the Negotiators and HNLR to host a dessert potluck. Before Thanksgiving our Co-President Liz Bailey ’12 opened her home to all HMP members for a holiday potluck. Finally, we finished off the semester with a cookie decorating study break in the HMP office. These events were well attended and generated overwhelmingly positive feedback, creating great momentum for social events as we head into the spring semester. HMP will continue to work with the social chairs of the other ADR groups on campus to plan and host events that will bring students and community members together to stay engaged in and excited about being a part of HMP.

HMP is a student practice organization that mediates disputes in Boston-area courts and housing authorities and provides trainings to the Harvard community and to other local organizations. Our membership includes both students and non-students living in the Boston area. Please contact us if you are interested in getting involved with HMP, or if you know of an organization that may be able to use our mediation services. For more information, please visit our website or contact Elizabeth Bailey ’12 or David Zins ’12 or Mo Griffin.

Caption: HMP collaborated with HNLR and the Negotiators to hold an ADR jobs panel on campus in November. Photo by Sara Croll.