Theory of Change Symposium – Part 5 and Coming Attractions

This jumbo-size post is the last part in the Theory of Change Symposium.

But don’t despair.  I am compiling all the pieces – and some new material – into an e-book that will be distributed soon, as described at the end of this post.

This part of the symposium includes several pieces describing important techniques to improve dispute resolution practice.  Rosa Abdelnour describes the importance of dealing with emotions in mediation, which may seem obvious, but it bears repeating as many mediators act as if emotions are irrelevant.  Noah Hanft argues that when businesses negotiate contracts, they should put the subject of developing good relationships on the agenda as an intrinsic part of the negotiation from the outset.  In one piece, Michaela Keet, Heather Heavin, and John Lande recommend that practitioners explicitly help parties consider valuable but hard-to-quantify intangible costs of engaging in the litigation process.  In another piece, they recommend a “planned early two-stage mediation” (PETSM) process to improve the quality of parties’ decision-making.  Laurel Tuvim Amaya describes the benefits of participating in reflective practice groups that challenge practitioners to seriously analyze difficult problems in their cases.

Some pieces take on “big picture” issues in our field.  Charlie Irvine urges us to take seriously substantive justice – not just procedural justice or other goals of dispute resolution.  Grande Lum describes why negotiation is especially important to deal with the major social divisions.  Rachel Viscomi suggests that we can use online resources to help bridge deep differences in our society.  Woody Mosten describes several ways that mediation trainings can improve the quality of mediation and include more peacemaking in our work.  Chris Draper envisions possible future uses of technology to promote collaborative justice in dispute resolution.  Lara Fowler suggests ways that the dispute resolution community can help address the existential threat to our planet of climate change.

Two pieces are reminders to take advantage of the Stone Soup Project.  Although the project is not developing new resources, recruiting faculty, or actively promoting the project, the Stone Soup website has everything faculty need to give students great learning experiences through encounters with the real world.  Another piece describes how, with a little bit of extra effort, speakers at educational programs can generate new knowledge by systematically tapping the experiences and perspectives of audience members.

I wrote a piece encouraging you to make conscious decisions about your professional life out of choice, not habit, to maximize your personal and professional fulfillment.

Here is more detail with links to the pieces:

Rosa AbdelnourMediators Need Skills in Handling Difficult EmotionsRosa argues that knowledge of and the ability to deal with the psychodynamics of conflict is key to being a good mediator.  These should be the main focus of mediation trainings.  She is a lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, and trainer in Costa Rica.


Laurel Tuvim AmayaMediators Can Greatly Improve Your Skills Using Reflective Practice Groups.  Laurel describes the benefits of participating in reflective practice groups, where mediators and other practitioners can benefit from deep analysis of challenging problems in their cases.  She is a California family law attorney and mediator.


Chris DraperThe Dispute Resolution Community Should Actively Craft a DRTech Roadmap to Produce Technology That Will Promote Collaborative Justice Chris believes that technology is not being strategically implemented to take advantage of the expansive potential of dispute resolution.  He advocates development of a strategic dispute resolution technology (DRTech) roadmap to transform our legal system into one that enables dynamic, collaborative justice.  He is Managing Director of Trokt, a cloud-based platform that controls complex collaborations.

Lara B. FowlerFloods, Fires, Drought and More:  The Climate is Changing and Dispute Resolution Tools are Needed (Now!).   Lara notes that addressing climate change – both in reducing greenhouse gas emission and adapting to the impacts from a changing climate – requires incredibly difficult conversations.  She argues that the tools of dispute resolution – negotiation, mediation, and even arbitration – are critical in addressing these global challenges at all levels, local to global.  She is a Senior Lecturer at Penn State Law School and Assistant Director for Outreach & Engagement, Penn State Institutes of Energy & the Environment.  Currently, she is in Sweden on a Fulbright researching where people are working together on challenging water issues.

Noah HanftDispute Prevention = Business Collaboration:  How Prevention Can Reduce Conflict and Preserve Relationships.  Noah describes the need for dispute prevention initiatives, how they work, and how to overcome resistance to using them.  He is the Co-Founder of AcumenADR LLC, a dispute prevention and resolution platform in New York City.  He serves as an arbitrator, mediator, consultant, and executive coach.  He formerly was general counsel of MasterCard Worldwide and, more recently, President and CEO of the CPR Institute.

Charlie IrvineMediators Need to Stop Apologizing About Justice.  Charlie argues that the mediation community should focus squarely on the goal of promoting substantive justice.  He is a mediator and the Course Leader of the Strathclyde Law School’s Masters Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution in Glasgow, Scotland.






Michaela Keet, Heather Heavin, and John LandeHelp Parties Consider Intangible Consequences of LitigationMichaela, Heather, and John describe intangible consequences that parties often experience in litigation but fail to anticipate or value adequately.  They suggest techniques to help them make better litigation decisions by explicitly incorporating and valuing these consequences.  Michaela is Professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.  Heather is Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies and Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.  John is the Isidor Loeb professor emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law.





Michaela Keet, Heather Heavin, and John LandeUse PETSM to Improve the Quality of Decision-Making in MediationMichaela, Heather, and John describe problems with the common unplanned one-stage mediation procedure and the benefits of planned early two-stage mediations (PETSM).  PETSM enables parties to carefully consider the issues and make better-informed decisions, while reducing the risk of “buyer’s remorse,” reneging on mediated agreements, and complaints against lawyers and mediators.  It also may be more satisfying for mediators.

John LandeConsider Unbundling Your Life a Bit.  John encourages you to make conscious decisions about your professional life out of choice, not habit, to maximize your personal and professional fulfillment.



John LandeCreate New Knowledge with This Quick, Easy, No-Fuss-No-Muss, Surefire Method.  John describes how you can create valuable knowledge by systematically eliciting responses from audiences in your educational programs.


John LandeYou Can Give Students Great Learning Experiences Through Encounters with the Real WorldJohn describes how you can take advantage of all the resources of the Stone Soup Dispute Resolution Knowledge Project to help your students learn from encounters with the real world.


Grande LumWe Need to Make Negotiation a Central Focus of Legal Education Especially in Divided Times.  Grande argues that negotiation is central to lawyers’ work and is especially important in today’s polarized environment.  He advocates making negotiation a central part of the legal curriculum.  He is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Menlo College and previously served as Director of the Community Relations Service in the US Justice Department, Director of the Divided Community Project at Ohio State Moritz College of Law, and Director of UC Hastings College of Law’s Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.

Forrest S. (Woody) MostenToward Integration and Peacemaking in the Mediation Field.  Woody urges mediators to be open to a range of approaches and philosophies and to incorporate a philosophy of peacemaking in their practices.  He advocates expanding training curricula to address intake and practice management strategies, work in interdisciplinary teams, intractable conflicts, social science research, a broad range of mediation strategies, and dispute prevention.  He is a mediator and collaborative attorney with offices in Beverly Hills and La Jolla and is an Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Law.

Rachel ViscomiEngaging Deep Differences Online.  Rachel describes how we can use online communication to help people engage with others who have deeply felt differences.  She is Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School and Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program.


Here’s a post with an index of all the contributions to this symposium.

The enthusiastic response to this symposium by authors and readers has been overwhelming.  Initially, I wondered if this was just another one of my “brilliant” ideas that would go nowhere, but the response reflects continuing idealism and commitment to advancing the many laudable goals of our movement.

So I am in the process of compiling all the pieces into a single document, organized by topic.  This will include posts related to what I have called the Past-and-Future Conference as well as some previous blog posts and new material integrating the ideas generated in this process.  This will be an electronic book distributed for free on SSRN.

Watch this space.

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