In the U. S. and around the world, we are mired in political conflicts that are filled with bitterness and hatred, prejudice and personal attacks, leading to increased stereotyping and discrimination, adversarial assumptions, divisive language and antagonistic zero-sum power- and rights-based processes that unnecessarily pit us against each other and diminish our ability to work together to solve problems that increasingly impact all of us.
The problem is, we haven’t figured out yet how to discuss political ideas and beliefs in ways that lead to learning, collaborative outcomes, increased empathy, mutual understanding and joint problem solving. How, then, do we learn to talk to each other about difficult and dangerous issues? How do we discuss what we believe in without becoming biased and adversarial? What is politics anyway, and what are the components of political conflict? What is dialogue, and how do we design, organize and facilitate conversations about contentious topics without degenerating into monologues and pointless diatribes? What skills and capacities do we need for democracy to work? What are the limits of democracy and how is it evolving? What can interest-based approaches to conflict teach us about how to engage in political conflicts?
Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts, including community, grievance and workplace disputes, organizational and school conflicts, sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, and public policy disputes, and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations.
Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author of many journal articles and several books, including Mediation: Revenge and the Magic of Forgiveness, The Crossroads of Conflict, The Dance of Opposites, and Mediating Dangerously: The Fontiers of Conflict Resolution. His consulting and training practice includes organizational change, leadership, team building and strategic planning. He is a co-author with Joan Goldsmith of Thank God It's Monday! 14 Values We Need to Humanize The Way We Work, Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job, Resolving Personal and Organizational Conflict: Stories of Transformation and Forgiveness; The End of Management and the Rise of Organizational Democracy, and The Art of Waking People Up: Cultivating Awareness and Authenticity at Work. His latest book, Journeys into the Heart of Conflict was be published in 2015.
Ken received a B.A. from the University of California; a J.D. from U.C.'s Boalt Law School; a Ph.D. from UCLA; an LLM from UCLA Law School; and has done post-doctoral work at Yale Law School. He is a graduate of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. His university teaching includes law, mediation, history and other social sciences at a number of colleges and universities including Southwestern University School of Law, Southern Methodist University, Pepperdine University School of Law, Antioch University, Occidental College, USC and UCLA.