Theories of Change: a valuable new contribution to Dispute Resolution field made freely available

John Lande, University of Missouri School of Law, Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus has painstakingly solicited, collected and organized the book in to an interesteing, far-reaching, and thought provoking book that asks each of us in the field to consider what we might be doing better. He has collected a series of essays from over fifty professionals in the field, taking on this assessment of what the future of our field may hold.

Feel free to share this book with others who you think might be interested. John has graciously invited all of us to do this, and has made it a free download. Here is the link to this valuable resource to add to your collection, Theories of Change for the Dispute Resolution Movement: Actionable Ideas to Revitalize Our Movement.

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Students are the future of our field, and this may attract them to our community. So  the book should be shared widely with them as well.

The book is the result of the Theory of Change Symposium, organized by John in 2019. Here’s a post with an index of all the contributions to this symposium.

Included are 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, geared to faculty resources. 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.

This book has lots of ideas, but no specific plans or suggestions to take any actions. This is left up to the reader to consider and inplement. John does suggest that members of the ADR community would most likely need to undertake some collaborative actions in order to implement the collective suggested changes.

John kindly synthesized the many suggestions in the book into the following broad recommendations:

        • Develop clearer common language of dispute resolution
        • Redefine what we do and who we are
        • Integrate technology into all our work
        • Develop best practice standards
        • Redesign teaching and training curricula
        • Develop and implement a research agenda
        • Develop a searchable dispute resolution bibliographic database
        • Engage the major issues of our times with realistic plans and expectations
        • Attract “all hands on deck”
        • Unbundle and prioritize our lives

As you will see, there’s quite a range of people speaking with very different voices. They are Rosa Abdelnour, Ava Abramowitz, Jim Alfini, Cynthia Alkon, Laurie Amaya, Lisa Amsler, Peter Benner, Debra Berman, Russ Bleemer, Michael Buenger, Alyson Carrel, Sarah Cole, Ben Cook, Chris Draper, Noam Ebner, Deb Eisenberg, Brian Farkas, Lara Fowler, Doug Frenkel, Steve Goldberg, Rebekah Gordon, Michael Green, Jill Gross, Chris Guthrie, Noah Hanft, Heather Heavin, David Henry, Howard Herman, Chris Honeyman, Charlie Irvine, Barney Jordaan, Jane Juliano, Michaela Keet, Randy Kiser, Russell Korobkin, Heather Kulp, John Lande, Michael Lang, Lela Love, Grande Lum, Andrew Mamo, Scott Maravilla, Woody Mosten, Jackie Nolan-Haley, Lydia Nussbaum, Rebecca Price, Nancy Rogers, Colin Rule, Amy Schmitz, Linda Seely, Donna Shestowsky, Jean Sternlight, Donna Stienstra, Tom Valenti, Rachel Viscomi, Nancy Welsh, Roselle Wissler, Doug Yarn.

Finally, if you don’t already subscribe to the Indisputably blog, I encourage you to do so. It is intended to link Dispute Resolution Scholarship, Education, and Practice.  There, you will find a range of interesting posts about various aspects of dispute resolution.

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