Emory Report

February 7, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 20

Conflict resolution conference to be held Feb. 17 in Cox Hall

By Michael Terrazas

From Confederate flags to shuttle roads and parking decks, Emory has seen its share of conflicts recently, so the Violence Studies Program's conference, "Conflict Resolution: What Really Works," to be held Feb. 17 in Cox Hall from 1­4 p.m., comes at an appropriate time.

The conference, which features four keynote speakers followed by a choice of seven workshops, is aimed toward informing students of the various techniques for addressing conflicts, keeping them from escalating and finding a resolution peacefully and amicably.

"The earlier people learn there are very good ways to resolve conflicts, the longer in their lives they will be able to use them," said economics Professor Beverly Schaffer, who is chairing the conference.

Delivering keynote addresses will be Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford, who will discuss "alternative dispute resolution" in Georgia's courts; Faye Wilson, senior vice president of value initiatives for The Home Depot, will talk about the issue from the perspective of a large, succesful corporation; and Todd Rose, assistant dean of students, and Brit Katz, director of Residence Life, will speak on conflicts at Emory and what has been done about them.

A wide range of individuals from both within Emory and without will run the seven workshops, covering topics from mediation to cultural differences and faith-based conflict resolution. Schaffer said the conference organizers hope to keep workshop participation to about a dozen people each.

"I do a lot of mediation work myself, as do almost all our workshop presenters, so I see these techniques work," said Schaffer, who added that she will probably teach a course in conflict resolution next spring. "Even people fighting for custody of a child can resolve the dispute among themselves with the help of a skilled mediator."

Robert Agnew, director of violence studies, said students can benefit from the conference in a number of ways. "They can benefit in their personal lives-it can help them deal with a variety of problems they might confront, problems with roommates, parents, friends, even faculty," he said. "And it could help them in their professional lives in just about any career where they're involved in disagreements."

Agnew added that the recent Confederate flag dispute on campus is a perfect real-life example of how these techniques can be applied. "In fact, I can't think of a better example," he said.

Rose and Katz said the conference is especially timely because Campus Life is launching a new peer mediation program that will train students in the same techniques. The two have coordinated with Laurie Patton, associate professor of religion, in designing the program, which will be hold yearly workshops to train student leaders.

"So many of our pre-professional students get really antagonized knowing that they have a file in the dean of students' office because of misbehavior," said Rose, saying peer mediators could step in before it gets to that stage. "We're bringing in people from Illinois and North Carolina who have experience with these issues as they relate to college campuses."

Although organizers are focusing on students, the conference is open to anyone on campus.

For more information, contact Art Linton at the violence studies office at 404-727-7176 or via e-mail at alinton@emory.edu.

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