SMU Dispute Resolution students and guests share insights from Rwanda experience

SMU Dispute Resolution faculty, students and guests, in collaboration with ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries), recently traveled to Rwanda to deliver peacebuilding and peer mediation training. After returning to Texas, the group shares their individual experiences with the Rwandan people and insights on what we could all learn about peace.

SMU Group, in collaboration with ALARM, (Left to Right): Elizabeth Blake, Ben Voth, Chris Snyder, Betty Gilmore, Husain Abdullah, Sarah Davenport, Samreen Hooda, Ashley Aguilar, Lori Anne Shaw

Dr. Betty Gilmore, SMU Dispute Resolution Program Director
“I believe that we learned more from the Rwandan people than they learned from us. Despite unthinkable adversity, there are many areas in which the country is thriving. The entire nation has committed to sustainable peace.

What touched me most was the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of people who have caused such harm to each other to come together to rebuild a nation. I hope that we can all learn from the gift they have given us with their example. If a country learning to forgive under such extreme conditions can heal, why can’t we? We must put aside our differences, look for the things that unite us, and realize that we are better together.”

To read more about Dr. Gilmore’s experience, visit: http://www.smu.edu/News/2017/betty-gilmore-rwanda-18april2017 

Ashley Aguilar, MA Dispute Resolution, Class of 2017
“I have never witnessed selflessness like I did in Rwanda. This quality was exhibited by everyone I encountered. Every person was more concerned about the well being of those surrounding them, than that of themselves. I’ve seen people with this quality before, but never have a seen this in everyone surrounding me on such a large scale. The Rwandan people have shown me what it truly means to live selflessly. We could use selflessness to build peace here. If we could teach more people the benefits of perspective taking and vulnerability and shift the paradigm, then I think selfless acts and decisions could follow. Imagine living each day for something more than just yourself. I felt blessed to be a part of it.”

Elizabeth Blake, MA Dispute Resolution, Class of 2017
“The Forgiveness Villages in Rwanda in which victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide live and work together were by far the most bold and courageous systems of peace and reconciliation implemented in country. Our group was able to visit one of the Forgiveness Villages in Nyamata, Rwanda to hear testimony from victims and perpetrators. They use civil discourse processes as a means speak their truth, share their personal narratives, hear testimony of victims AND perpetrators, and work toward peaceful resolution, and ultimately forgiveness and repentance.

Americans generally do not participate in civil discourse as a means to understand other perspectives, and American media tends to promote political and social polarization. Hatred and division have become the norm in American culture. Civil discourse involves great courage, compassion, and desire to understand the other person. Rwandans have mandated conflict resolution curriculum in schools as a means to teach children from a young age how to listen for understanding, show compassion for the other, and resolve conflict in their families and communities. Imagine the compassion, tolerance, and cohesion the next generation of Americans would have if we started teaching them conflict resolution when they first start school. Imagine the possibilities!” Continue reading SMU Dispute Resolution students and guests share insights from Rwanda experience

How to recover from your own Oscars-worthy blunders

Dispute Resolution Professor John Potter offers tips on how to give an effective apology. 

Dallas Morning News by Leslie Barker Garcia

Few of us (and that’s being generous) will ever present an Academy Award for best picture. Even fewer will muddle the name on the top-secret card, as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway did in Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony.

But we’ve all had plenty of mortifying moments we wish we could take back, or that make us wish we could slink out the door under the red (or shag; we don’t care) carpet. They’re part of life; they’re part of being human. We make mistakes that we can neither erase nor go back in time to do differently.

What we can do is apologize. But we need to do that correctly so we don’t find ourselves apologizing for the apology.

As an associate professor in dispute resolution and conflict management at Southern Methodist University, John Potter talks about apology a lot. So who better to turn to for insight on the apology factor in Sunday night’s show?

Continue reading How to recover from your own Oscars-worthy blunders

How to keep today’s tension from stealing our souls

Dispute Resolution Professor Angela Mitakidis offers conflict resolution tips to help ease tensions in our daily lives. 

Dallas Morning News by Leslie Barker

Originally Posted: February 2, 2017

Nearing the end of a recent morning run — one in which, weary of hearing news on the radio, I had pulled out my earbuds miles earlier — I saw my across-the-street neighbor Rick gazing intently upward.

With my ears now open to sound, I knew right away what he was doing: Seeking the source of the sonorous song filling the sweet, soft, morning air.

I had barely a tenth of a mile left to go, but instead of finishing, I stopped. How could I not? Rick turned his eyes toward me long enough to say hello, then, a few seconds later, got that  “Aha!” look on his face.

 “There it is!” he proclaimed, pointing to the upper branches of his all-but-bare tree. “Would you listen to that robin?!”

I squinted, but couldn’t see it. Truth to tell, I didn’t need to. That exchange, barely a minute long, reminded me of this:

Life is found in moments, especially in those that unite us. Not in snark, not in sniping, not in the uncertainty and fear and vitriol that taints our Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, but in those times we find a way to stop the torrents surrounding us.

Continue reading How to keep today’s tension from stealing our souls

Now Accepting Deposits for Summer Study Abroad 2017 in Athens, Greece

The SMU Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management is pleased to announce the study abroad course option for Summer Term 2017 will be located in Athens, Greece. The new course, led by Dr. Betty Gilmore, will focus on the use of dialogue as a tool for peacebuilding in divided communities.

The course, Building Peace Through Understanding: Using Dialogue to Bridge Cultural Divides, will run from June 17 until June 24. Students participating in the course will have the incredible opportunity to work with an NGO conducting dialogue processes with local community groups on polarizing issues. In addition, student participating in this course will have the option to use the course to fulfill the internship or independent study requirement.

Scholarships available for current Dispute Resolution master’s and certificate students. Cost and additional information can be found on the Dispute Resolution Study Abroad webpage.

COURSE DESCRIPTION
Globally, we are faced with difficult public issues stemming from intolerance, shifting political climates, inequity of resources, and civil unrest and immigration. This, among many other complex issues has created intense conflict and polarization in communities, threatening to tear the fabric of society apart and often resulting in violence. This course will explore a valuable and effective tool for promoting equilibrium; it is through the use of dialogue processes. This is a powerful form of peacebuilding that brings divided communities together and often results in appreciation of differences and lasting peace. Greece has been in the throes of the crisis for some time, and they have reached out to various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist in dealing with the critical problems dividing their communities. Students in this class will examine methods for building peace through understanding and communication as well as participate in an incredible opportunity to work with an NGO conducting dialogue processes with local community groups on polarizing issues. Since Greece is not the only nation facing conflict, the skills learned from this course will be transferable to all community conflict.

 

SMU Dispute Resolution Students and Faculty Ask, “What Are You Bringing to the Thanksgiving Table?”

You have selected your dishes and decorated your home, but have you prepared yourself for the conflicts that come with large family gatherings. 

SMU Dispute Resolution graduate students, led by Prof. Angela Mitakidis, share their tips for keeping family conflicts to a minimum at the Thanksgiving table and throughout the holiday season.

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Take off Your Coat at the Door: Look past how your guests may present themselves – some may be wearing a “coat” of financial stress, work issues, relationship problems and so forth. Relieve them of their coat of burdens right up front by greeting them with an attitude of gratitude for their presence in your home, joy in your eyes to see them and a lift in your voice as you welcome them in. No one can resist a warm welcome and it will set the tone for the spirit of Thanksgiving right at the door.

Decorate Your Home with a Grateful Heart: A grateful spirit must start with you. You cannot control the behavior of others, nor can you compel another person to feel or demonstrate gratitude. You can only control your own behavior. So make a choice before your guests arrive to focus only on what you are grateful for and watch it spread throughout your home.

A Table Runner of Peace: As guests begin to sense the attitude of gratitude in your home, it will become a theme that will run through your conversations, jokes, comments and behaviors . If conflict arises, you will already have set the “table runner of peace” and that will give you the courage to verbalize a gentle request for a focus on all that we are grateful for.

Continue reading SMU Dispute Resolution Students and Faculty Ask, “What Are You Bringing to the Thanksgiving Table?”

SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series Presents Dr. Robert Barner

SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series presents
“Building Collaboration from the Ground Up: Team building tools for everyone”

You’re invited to attend the SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series featuring SMU Dispute Resolution Lecturer, Dr. Robert Barner, and his book, Building Better Teams.

bobcoverbuildingbetterteamsEVENT INFORMATION
Free Lecture & Book Signing
December 14 at 6:30 p.m.
SMU-in-Plano, Great Room
5228 Tennyson Parkway

RSVP to drcm@smu.edu

ABOUT THE PRESENTATION
Today almost everyone is faced with situations in which they have to get things done through teams. Whether it is the project team you are leading at work or your local PTA organization, at some point in your life you will find that you are working in a team that tests your skills in team collaboration.

For many people, the term “team building” leaves a bad taste in their mouth. If you have ever been to a team building session that either didn’t work or even made matters worse, you are not alone. In this talk the author will explain event why good leaders and good teams can experience difficulties in collaborating, and why team building often fails. You will then be introduced to a simple approach you can use for getting teams quickly back on track. By the end of the session you will walk away with five different techniques you can use for building collaboration in your teams, and you will have the opportunity to talk with the author about any difficult team building challenges that you are currently facing.

Continue reading SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series Presents Dr. Robert Barner

Election 2016: What does your child think?

Original Blog Post by SMU DRCM Prof. Angela Mitakidis

In the current election climate filled with presidential debates, related talk shows and political commentaries flooding our TV screens, what are our children picking up from our reactions, our language, our expressions?

angela-mitakidiswebAt the age of 4, my daughter was role playing on my cellphone, pretending to call her best friend. She proceeded to tell her: “I’m so sorry, Demi, but I’m going to have to cancel our coffee date for tomorrow… I have to take the kids to the doctor… I’ll call you to arrange another time. Ok, great, thanks for understanding. Chat soon, bye”. It was like I was hearing myself speak! (My son did the same with both me and my husband).  As cute as that was, it also served to confirm the abundance of research showing that children observe parents from a very young age to the extent that they can mimic their language and behaviors with astounding precision.

In an article published in Parents Magazine[1], it is suggested that children imitate parents from as young as toddler age as a bonding mechanism, because children draw their parents’ attention and praise when they mimic them. In order to draw more attention and praise, children will continue to imitate. Furthermore, imitation is also regarded as a “stepping-stone to independence”. As children learn to imitate, they become empowered with the discovery of newfound abilities – to mimic what they see, and garner a response. Eventually, over time and with repetition, imitations become self- motivated role modeling behaviors.

Dr. Dan Siegel, a psychiatrist, says that our experiences during infancy influence how the brain develops, how we learn to calm our emotions, and how we relate to others. He explains that the relationships we have with our caregivers at a young age directly shape who we become.”[2]

My children are now 16 and 19, and they still watch my husband and I closely. In the current election climate filled with presidential debates, related talk shows and political commentaries flooding our TV screens, what are our children picking up from our reactions, our language, our expressions? We notice that our children regularly glance at us, gauging our reactions. Research shows that role modeling continues well into adolescence, and even though teens are becoming more independent, they still require and seek out their parents, more so for role modeling and mentoring. How are we doing as mentors?

I had the privilege of working in Singapore with Dr. John Ng (author, mediator, leadership consultant)[3] and am reminded of his work on this subject. He says children do what they see, not what we say – raising great children starts with an understanding of ourselves first. He emphasizes the importance of examining our own values and managing our own ‘hot buttons’ first.[4]

Some of the values we hold dear, and wish to effectively impart to our children could be, for example, our moral compass, our sense of patriotism, equality, faith, the importance of human dignity, mutual respect, tolerance in diversity, charity and the list goes on. Are the values we are telling our children to follow congruent with the values we are displaying for them? If we are saying one thing and displaying another, are we confusing our children? A good question for a parent to ask is “how is my behavior right now reinforcing the values I’m teaching my children to imitate?”.

Continue reading Election 2016: What does your child think?

SMU DRCM Prof. Tom Hartsell on How To Talk Politics Without Blowing Your Lid

D Magazine by S. Holland Murphy

Originally Posted: October 14, 2016

There’s a deep political divide among my Facebook friends: On one side, the conservative suburbanites whom I grew up with, and, on the other, the liberal artists and urbanites I have befriended since college. The election is bringing out the worst in all of them, and the dogmatic social media posts have now hit a fever pitch.

It may be bringing out the worst in me, as well. I’ve never been a fan of political discussions—the result of being raised by a lawyer whose sport of choice is heated debate—but this week’s political theatrics compelled me to leave an incendiary comment on a relative’s Facebook post, and I started to wonder whether some of my relationships could survive this election cycle.

All of this led me to email Tom Hartsell, a lawyer and mediator who teaches in the Department of Dispute Resolution and Counseling at SMU. I asked him if he had any thoughts on how I could make it to November 8th without having to sever ties with people I otherwise love and respect. He wrote back with an essay about his own experience. It’s worth sharing:

“Like most Americans I can’t wait for the presidential election to be over with.  My spouse and I have been coexisting on opposite sides of the political divide since we got married over 20 years ago. Every four years the tension begins to ramp up around the presidential election.  What we have learned is that we do best when we avoid discussion of the election and candidates. We spent years debating and arguing and trying to persuade and change each other’s views without success.

The old saying love the person, abhor the sin is applicable, but in a marriage it is best not to let on how much you abhor your spouse’s chosen candidate. For the sake of the greater good—the relationship—we had to agree to disagree and discontinue political debate. 

As an educator and professional involved in conflict resolution for most of my professional career, you would think I would have had more success in navigating political disagreements with my spouse and keep them from becoming contentious. My spouse and I were unable to keep our emotions from getting hijacked which caused bad feelings. In other words, we would get nasty with each other. Not the kind of heat you want in the marital bed. Fortunately, time has given us perspective. Guess what America, the country survives whoever gets to set up shop in the oval office. The emotional upset political disagreements generated was physically draining for my spouse and I, and would temporarily blind us as to how we truly felt about each other. 

READ MORE

DRCM Alumna Debuts New Book at Author Series on Oct. 11

News and Events

Originally Posted: October 4, 2016

webrobyn-short-headshot-1-243x300SMU Dispute Resolution Alumna Robyn Short will debut her new book, Peace in the Workplace: Transforming Conflict Into Collaboration, at the Conflict Resolution Author Series on Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at SMU-in-Plano.

Her lecture, Peace in the Workplace, will be followed by a book signing. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to drcm@smu.edu.

Event Details
SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series presents
Peace in the Workplace Lecture & Book Signing

Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 p.m.
5228 Tennyson Parkway, Building 3
SMU-in-Plano

About the Book
Peace in the Workplace: Transforming Conflict Into Collaboration

If you lead or manage people, processes or projects, you have experienced workplace conflict. After all, where there are people, there is conflict. And where there is conflict, there is a choice. In Peace in the Workplace: Transforming Conflict Into Collaboration, international speaker, peace-building trainer and mediator Robyn Short provides insight and guidance to help leaders and
organizations understand that conflict.
Continue reading DRCM Alumna Debuts New Book at Author Series on Oct. 11

SMU Dispute Resolution Director to receive Lowry Award

News and Events

Originally Posted: September 30, 2016

betty-gilmorewebThe Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) has chosen Dr. Betty Gilmore as the 2016 L. Randolph Lowry Award recipient. The award honors members of the dispute resolution community who have inspired others through their passion and dedication to education in the field of dispute resolution.

Gilmore serves as director and faculty at the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University where she teaches a variety of graduate courses in conflict engagement and peacebuilding. She also teaches for The Werner Institute for Negotiation at the Creighton School of Law and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine School of Law.  She also delivers training and professional presentations both nationally and internationally in the areas of conflict engagement, peacebuilding and human rights.

Gilmore will be the ninth recipient of the Lowry Award. Past recipients include Charles Chang, Russell Korobkin, A. Marco Turk, Peter Robinson, Thomas Stipanowich, Lee Jay Berman, Daniel Druckman and Deborah Masucci.

The L. Randolph Lowry Award will be presented to Gilmore during the kick-off dinner of the 28th Annual Southern California Mediation Association Conference on Nov. 4 in Malibu, Calif.

ABOUT THE AWARD:

The L. Randolph Lowry Award was established in 2005 and is named for L. Randolph Lowry III, a national leader in dispute resolution for over 20 years. He was the co-founder and first president of SCMA, founded the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine School of Law, and is the president of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. He has served in more than 40 states and six continents as a lawyer, mediator, author, consultant and teacher in the areas of conflict management consulting, systems design and training.