Kenneth Cloke

Kenneth Cloke

Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts internationally 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 books and journal articles. He was a co-founder of Mediators Beyond Borders.

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.

Contact Kenneth Cloke


Articles and Video:

The War in Ukraine: Lessons for Mediators (04/28/22)
Every defeat in every war is a tragedy, not merely for the nations, factions, and citizens of countries who have died or been conquered, but for each and all of us everywhere – and not just abstractly, but as very real, very personal losses.

Married Mediators: Joan Goldsmith and Ken Cloke (01/10/22)
An interview with Joan Goldsmith and Ken Cloke about mediation, being married to a mediator, and the future of mediation. Recorded and shared as part of the Mediation 20/20 Conference.

Mediation and the Evolution of Democracy: Inventing Interest-Based Responses to Lying, Demagoguery, and Fascism (10/08/21)
Nearly 2500 years ago, Plato warned that “Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.” Why should this be the case?

Dance of Opposites - Book Review (09/18/21)
The Dance of Opposites, a new book by Dr. Kenneth Cloke, will change your life. You will never view conflict the same way again. If you only read one more book on the theory & practice of Conflict Resolution, make it this one.

The Limits of Mediation (09/13/21)
It is difficult to understand anything fully until we recognize its limits -- the places where it falls apart, or miraculously comes together -- where it begins and ends, or transforms into something entirely different.

Mediation and the Language and Culture of Politics (09/10/21)
One of the principal difficulties with political conflicts is that, in addition to disagreements over ideas, facts, proposals, beliefs, and values, there are significant differences in the languages we use to describe ourselves, our opponents, and the issues that divide us; as well as in the disparate cultural norms, expectations, myths, assumptions, and ways we attribute meaning to political ideas and assertions.

Insurrection, Demagoguery, and the Mediation of Political Conflicts (07/06/21)
Following the “insurrection,” “putsch,” or “attempted coup” in Washington D.C., on January 6, 2021, and the subsequent acquittal of President Trump on impeachment charges, we find ourselves facing extremely significant and difficult, yet very different political conflicts and challenges from those we faced before.

Race and Caste, Gender and Patriarchy, Wealth and Class: Mediating the Systems, Structures, and Sources of Prejudice (06/16/21)
As a society, we have not resolved many enduring disputes, or convinced each other, or even discussed them intelligently, but ended up instead screaming at one another, clashing violently, and being prepared to manipulate, and even jettison the entire democratic process if it doesn’t back the candidates and policies we support.

20 Ways to Improve UNFCCC Meetings and Climate Change Negotiations (04/02/21)
In preparation for the next international meeting on climate change in Glasgow in November 2021, it is important to begin thinking together, not only about outcomes, but ways of improving the process of meeting, discussing, and negotiating agreements on climate change.

20 Proposals to Resolve Electoral Conflicts and Strengthen Democracy (02/08/21)
Electoral democracy has gone through a period of profound conflicts, yet each unique conflict points us toward potential solutions and more collaborative processes.

10 Actions We Can Take to Turn Adversarial, Autocratic, Power-Based Political Conflicts into Collaborative, Democratic, Interest-Based Social Problem Solving (01/08/21)
Because democracy is open, it is vulnerable to demagogues and autocrats; yet because it is open, it is also resilient, able to learn and improve, and responsive to popular wisdom.

50 Questions You Can Ask Friends and Relatives in Political Arguments (12/18/20)
Preparing for Holiday Gatherings: In the aftermath of the election, and as we head into the holidays when we will be talking with friends and relatives we may find ourselves disagreeing with, in addition to the substantive points we want to make, here are 50 questions we can ask to help make our conversations more interesting and productive.

The 2020 Elections, Mediation, and the Political Divide -- What Next? (12/14/20)
Biden and Harris won the election, but what exactly did they win? What was lost in the process? And, as mediators and citizens, what do we do next?

Mediation, Neutrality, Political Conflicts, and the 2020 Elections (08/31/20)
In the US, and in different ways in countries around the world, we are now facing five, and perhaps six significant crises, each with its own distinct set of conflicts.

Conflict During COVID--Combined Voices from all Seven Continents (08/28/20)
This article combines voices from all 7 continents as they discuss how COVID has affected the conflict resolution field around them.

1st Key-Leadership: Establish Strong, Collaborative, Mediative Leadership (07/30/20)
Leadership is a skill. It is something everyone does at multiple points throughout their lives, whether they consider themselves leaders or not.

Conflict Resolution in the Time of COVID-19--Voices from Seven Continents of the World: North America (06/22/20)
This article series includes viewpoints on the current state of conflict resolution from all 7 continents. This article focuses on North America.

A Transformational Approach to Conflicts Between Police, Demonstrators, and Communities of Color (06/20/20)
Every officer learns to use violence and the martial arts. How many learn empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence?

Mediation Skillset is Essential For Our Survival (06/15/20)
Kenneth Cloke discusses the significance of mediation and how the world needs to learn these skills in order for us to survive as a species.

Global Pandemics, National Borders, and Political Problem-solving (03/13/20)
So far, we’ve been lucky. None of the health emergencies or potential pandemics we have been through in recent years has achieved its deadliest potential.

Interview with Ken Cloke (03/10/20)
This is a new interview of mediation leader and author Ken Cloke by Robert Benjamin as part of Mediate's new "The Future of Mediation and Negotiation in Our Culture, Politics and Society" video series.

Bringing Oxytocin into the Room (06/22/19)
For the most part, we have tended to ignore the deeper reality that conflict experiences are processed and regulated by our nervous system.

Ken Cloke Discusses Political Negotiation - Video (02/12/19)
Dispute Resolution leader Kenneth Cloke discusses how we can discuss politics to bring about change instead of division.

Interview with Ken Cloke - Views from the Eye of the Storm (11/15/18)
This is the complete interview by Robert Benjamin with Ken Cloke, author and Founder of Mediators Beyond Borders, filmed as part of's 'Views from the Eye of the Storm' Video Series.

Reflections on North and South Korea (05/17/18)
As I write these words, a meeting is being organized in Singapore between the US and North Korea, and it is worth reflecting for a moment on how it happened that the world suddenly changed.

The Future of Mediation - Video Interview of Ken Cloke (02/22/17)
The use of mediation has grown and evolved over last the thirty years. As the “founders” begin to retire and new voices emerge, what is the future of mediation from a global perspective?

Let’s Talk: Charlie Hebdo, Immigration, Terror and Prejudice -- Notes Toward a Proposal for Dialogue over Difficult and Dangerous Issues (06/02/15)
As wars, religious and political differences, and international problems such as global warming, environmental degradation and poverty expand their reach, importance and severity, stimulating mass migrations and deepening social tensions, we are increasingly forced to recognize that military solutions cannot succeed; that legal processes take too long to implement; and that diplomacy does not reach deep enough into the ranks of those who are drawn to violence.

The Future of Mediation: Toward a Conflict Revolution (01/18/15)
We evolve, not only as individuals, but as couples, families, groups, organizations, societies, economies and polities, both in the nature of our conflicts and in our approaches to resolution, moving from simple to more complex, nuanced and skillful forms. But in order to evolve, it is necessary for us not merely to settle or resolve the particular conflict we are facing, but also its hidden coda, essential nature, or binding principle, by learning the secret lesson it took place in order to teach us.

From Ken Cloke (10/14/13) continues to acquaint us with the latest in fresh, exciting new ideas that do not have to conform to academic requirements or anyone's idea of what our field should be. It is where we learn from each other, and it does not cost us a thing. As a result, it is invaluable and deserves our continued support.

Conflict and Movements for Social Change: The Politics of Mediation and the Mediation of Politics (07/07/13)
Internal conflicts are endemic and natural to progressive political and social movements, in part because it is difficult to agree on how to define and change highly complex, volatile and evolving social problems. As a result, over time, different definitions of the problem and perceptions about the nature of those who defend and represent it result in radically different notions about what needs to be done to change it. This article helps to clarify definitions of conflict and people's goals for resolving it.

20 Questions to Ask an Employee Before Considering Termination (05/03/13)
This practical guide provides a handout for employers. This is to be used by employers as a checklist to consider before terminating an employee.

25 Prenuptual Questions (01/11/13)
Ken Cloke suggests 25 prenuptual questions that are helpful for couples mediation. These questions are designed more to facilitate a strong marriage than a smooth divorce.

Ken Cloke Discusses Changing a Conversation - Video (01/26/12)
Ken Cloke of Mediators Beyond Borders is interviewed at the UNFCCC conference in Denmark about how to change the scope and feeling of a conversation to achieve understanding.

From Ken Cloke (10/12/11) has played such an important role in the development of new ideas, general awareness and creative techniques in dispute resolution that it is impossible to imagine who we would be without it. It is the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, how we think and act. It has been a safe space in which to experiment and discover. It does not require academic citation or comprehensive literature reviews, and accepts even unfinished, incomplete and off-beat ideas that link our work with other fields. In doing so, it has advanced the field in untold ways. Thank you, on behalf of all of us around the world who are searching for solutions, for keeping the door open.

Conflict, Climate Change And Environmental Catastrophe (12/20/10)
The recent oil spill by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico highlights an escalating set of difficulties in our responses to environmental catastrophes, with echoes that resonate and reverberate with experiences responding to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, earthquakes in Haiti and Peru, firestorms in Russia, flooding in Pakistan, the tsunami in Indonesia, and others.

Ken Cloke: Simulating Sincerity - Video (03/16/10)
Kenneth Cloke explains that if you're not able to be sincere as a mediator, simulating sincerity will lead to true sincerity and authenticity.

Mediators Calling For Climate Change Mediation Provision (12/10/09)
Mediators Beyond Borders (MBB) is calling on all delegates to include a mediation provision in the climate change treaty. Currently, the Kyoto Protocol includes negotiation, conciliation, arbitration, and judicial options, but not mediation.

Ken Cloke: Seeing Oneself as Equal to Parties - Video (10/12/09)
Ken Cloke talks about a training method he uses that makes mediators aware that they are no different than the parties they are mediating.

Ken Cloke: Historical Development of Need for Conflict Resolution-Video (10/11/09)
Ken Cloke talks about how the concept of conflict resolution has come about in history in order to prevent catastrophes such as nuclear war.

Ken Cloke: Six Places Where Conflict Occurs - Video (10/11/09)
Ken Cloke describes the body, mind, emotions, energy, heart, and context as the six places where conflict happens.

Ken Cloke: Self-Reflecting as a Mediator - Video (07/02/09)
Ken Cloke discusses how being a mediator makes one self-reflect in a variety of ways. It enables one to observe their mistakes and fears, it helps in relating to others who are going through struggles that the mediator has endured, and it helps one develop intuition.

A Recent Finding on Oxytocin (06/22/09)
In a recent experiment, Swiss Neuroscientists Beate Ditzen, Marcel Schaer, Barbara Gabriel, Guy Bodenmann, Ulrike Ehlert, and Markus Heinrichs found for the first time a direct connection between oxytocin and couple bonding in human subjects. The following summary is drawn from their research report.

Ken Cloke: Objective of Training - Video (04/29/09)
Ken Cloke describes how the goal of training is to provide the student with structure and steps, enabling them to have the courage to face the moment when the steps are no longer necessary.

Mediation And Meditation: The Deeper Middle Way (03/16/09)
Conflict is everywhere, not only between human beings, but throughout nature, from quantum mechanical particles to dark energy and the soap bubble structure of galactic superclusters. Nonetheless, we each take our conflicts personally, and far from being happy or grateful to our enemies, we often allow ourselves to be thrown off balance and drawn into unpleasant ideas, negative emotions, and destructive behaviors.

Letter To President Obama (03/02/09)
Thank you. As conflict resolution professionals, practitioners and scholars, we have noticed and profoundly appreciate your efforts to change the process and tone of how differences are managed, both in Washington and around the world. We value your experience, understanding and commitment to conflict resolution, and offer our full support to you and your administration in your efforts to promote peace, collaboration, and consensus in domestic and international relations.

Bringing Oxytocin Into The Room: Notes On The Neurophysiology Of Conflict (01/19/09)
To explain the etiology of conflict therefore requires us to gain a deeper understanding of how the brain responds to conflict. This should clearly include the ways distrusting personalities are formed, even among primates; the sources of aggressive character traits and the “fight or flight” reflex; the wellsprings of spiritual malaise and hostile gut reactions; and the neurological foundations of forgiveness, open-heartedness, empathy, insight, intuition, learning, wisdom, and willingness to change.

Building Bridges Between Psychology And Conflict Resolution – Implications For Mediator Learning (10/21/08)
While it is, of course, both necessary and vital that we recognize the key differences between the professions of psychology and conflict resolution, it is more necessary and vital, especially in these times, that we recognize their essential similarities, collaborate in developing creative new techniques, and invite them to learn as much as they can from each other.

Janis Publications Offers New Ken Cloke Book to Opinion Leaders (08/21/08)
Janis Publications Inc. announced it has published Conflict Revolution: Mediating Evil, War, Injustice and Terrorism by author Ken Cloke. Among other things, Ken is President and co-founder of Mediators Beyond Borders.

Thoughts on Mediation, Barack Obama, and Our Political Future (05/27/08)
The emergence of Barack Obama as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and thus for the Presidency of the United States, presents us with unprecedented opportunities to influence global dispute resolution strategies and shift the prevailing paradigm of adversarial politics and diplomacy.

A Mediator Looks At Elections (12/31/07)
Every election year we witness the spectacle of candidates and parties engaged in character assassination, meaningless polarization, trivialization of serious issues, false and slanderous advertising, manipulative rhetoric, and corruption of the political process through that modern form of bribery known as campaign financing. These tactics create a political culture that isolates and alienates the majority of the electorate; reinforces competitive, destructive, adversarial behaviors; generates chronic conflicts; and de-emphasizes interest-based options.

From Ken Cloke (09/06/07)
We all know how important communication is in resolving conflicts between opposing parties. But it is equally, if not more important to conflict resolvers, and to the field of conflict resolution as a whole. Quite simply, without, we would be less aware, less unified, and less successful. Mediation is exciting, demanding work, and a collaborative enterprise, and has been the glue that has held us together, knitting our practices, and revealing to us what we can still do better. We owe John Helie, John Ford, Jim Melamed, and Keith Seat, who have pioneered in keeping us awake and informed, our deepest gratitude and continuing support.

Mediators Without Borders (MWB) Established to Address Violent Conflicts (02/06/07)

Development of an organizational structure and fundraising are under way for Mediators Without Borders (MWB), a new non-profit provider of pro bono conflict resolution resources for violent conflicts around the world. Co-founder Ken Cloke explained that MWB resulted from the determination that “as a profession, we [mediators] have the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to begin thinking and talking about how we might pool our resources and act in groups to intervene in trouble spots, even in small ways.” Mediators may become Charter Mediator Members of MWB by contacting Regina McCarthy at

Mediators Without Borders Website

Mediators Without Borders: A Proposal to Resolve Political Conflicts (08/29/05)
When listening to news about the latest disasters from wars and terrorist attacks around the globe, I sometimes fantasize what would happen if, instead of dropping bombs on civilian populations, mediators by the tens of thousands were parachuted into war zones to create conversations across battle lines; if, instead of shooting bullets, mediators organized dialogues and shot questions at other side; and if, instead of mourning the loss of children’s lives by visiting equal or greater losses on children from the other side, mediators would act as mourners, and turn every lost life into the name of a school, hospital, library, road, or olive grove that would be open to all and dedicated to the common good.

Mediating Evil, War, and Terrorism: The Politics of Conflict (11/11/04)
We require improved understanding, not only of the conflict in politics, but the politics in conflict. As our world shrinks and our problems can no longer be solved except internationally, we need ways of revealing, even in seemingly ordinary, interpersonal conflicts, the larger issues that connect us across boundaries, and methods for resolving political conflicts that are sweeping, strategic, interest-based, and transformational. A clear, unambiguous reason for doing so occurred on September 11, 2001.

The Vibrations of Conflict (08/25/03)
Each style of music evokes a different set of emotions, memories, and spiritual or energetic responses. Can we then use rhythms of speech to elicit sadness, anger, or fear? Can we counter these dusky tempos with lighter, upbeat rhythms in order to elicit joy, affection, or courage? What are the qualities of vibration that impart these special, substantive meanings? What, for example, is the vibratory quality of a sincere apology as opposed to an insincere one? And how do we know the difference between them?

Risky Conflict Resolution (12/09/02)
Taking a risky approach to conflict resolution allows both sides to discover newer and deeper levels of understanding, improve their skills and relationships and find better solutions than either side thought possible. For these reasons, conflict is a valuable personal and organizational resource and a powerful source of learning, development and growth.

Some Questions to Consider in Responding to Terrorism (10/12/01)
"How easy it is to kill someone you don’t have to mourn because you never dared to imagine him alive." This is the essence of terrorism, but it is also the essence of war. Indeed, isn’t terrorism simply a form of warfare directed at civilians? Isn’t every war, regardless of its’ declared military aims, an assault on innocent civilians?

Removing The Masks In Mediation (11/17/00)
Most people in conflict strike a variety of poses or "acts." These melodramatic affectations are highly effective in capturing other people's attention. None, however, describe who they really are, or allow others to see them as multi-faceted, complex individuals. In this way, each pose keeps them locked in conflict. Mediating dangerously means helping them drop the pose and cut out the act.


Ken Cloke shares at the Tennessee Association of Mediators about the magical moments he has experienced in mediation. This training has multiple hours of live presentation.  

This training helps people to view mediation as an opportunity instead of with fear. 

The Magic of Mediation:
APFM Keynote - Kenneth Cloke
Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution

1 hour

APFM Keynote with Kenneth Cloke:
APFM - Logic of Emotions
APFM Logic of Emotions with Kenneth Cloke

3 hours

APFM Logic of Emotions with Kenneth Cloke: