While mediation, the facilitation of negotiations by a third party, has been practiced informally since the beginning of time, only in the last 35 years has a formal and distinct profession evolved dedicated to conflict management. Courts, agencies and businesses have begun to institutionalize the use of mediation in virtually every dispute context, including employment, family and divorce, health care, personal injury and worker’s compensation matters, environmental, land use and public policy concerns, estate planning, and business and contractual matters, to name a few areas. A number of professional organizations have emerged to support these efforts, including Mediate.com, the Association for Conflict Resolution, the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and numerous state mediation associations.
The conflict management field was formed by a number of people from disparate backgrounds and professional disciplines that each separately recognized the need for a different approach to managing complex and difficult matters in their respective fields. Leading lawyers, counselors, educators and others came to the realization that the issues their clients faced were complex, systemic and dynamic, for which traditional linear and simplistic approaches were not helpful and sometimes detrimental.
The careful study and understanding of the perspectives of these early pioneers, and leading practitioners, is not only useful, but also essential for the field to continue to develop. Mediate.com is uniquely situated in the field to systematically collect, organize and make this resource available to practitioners, trainers and students, and others interested in fostering the growth of the conflict management profession.
The primary purposes of the Mediate.com Video Series are:
1. To create an archive of interviews from the first generation resources in the field. There is very little written history of the field and much of that is from second-hand sources. Many, for instance, believe mediation was “invented” by lawyers and have little awareness of the major impetus to the field provided by practitioners from other disciplines. Others are not aware of the many significant contributors to the field that have since died or retired. With technology readily available, it is important that we not lose the opportunity to record the thoughts of these early leaders. 2. To create a valuable learning resource. Video interviews of leading practitioners in the field will allow the opportunity to compare and contrast their varying perspectives and approaches
3. To further the discussion of the future of the field. The interviews will address not only the original intentions of the conflict management field, but as well, our current state and future course.
4. To create a structure for ongoing dialogue. The Video Series will provide a format for interactive engagement and discussion.
There are two stages envisioned in this project. The first is to interview early practitioners, leaders, and writers who have been instrumental in the formulation of the field. In the second stage, contemporary leaders will be interviewed. Each of the interviews will be 60 to 90 minutes in length. The format and questions for each interview will follow a general pattern. The interviews will be organized and available on DVD and on-line by Mediate.com.