Mediators Beyond Borders founder, Kenneth Cloke, visited the University of Oregon April 9 and 10 to deliver a lecture and morning workshop to educate about dispute resolution. Cloke delivered an hour and a half lecture sponsored by the UO Conflict Resolution Services entitled “Mediators Beyond Borders and the Beginning of a Conflict Resolution: A Journey into Evil, War, Injustice, and Terrorism.”
Cloke is the director for the Center for Dispute Resolution, an organization that offers conflict resolution services and training for anything from divorces to public policy. In 2007, he founded Mediators Beyond Borders. The organization works to aid in the settling of global disputes, focusing on problems such as climate change and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
During his lecture, Cloke stressed the system surrounding every conflict. “The system, the environment, the context, is not conflict-neutral,” said Cloke. “Conflicts exist in two additional locations: one is within systems, and the second is between systems.”
Systems, as Cloke defines them, include anything that turns in a circle, such as “a two-year-old or a coffee table with expensive things on it.” Using the system method, Cloke and other mediators are able to predict conflicts and determine whether specific systems are generating chronic conflicts. According to Cloke, conflict is “just the sound made by the cracks in a system.”
“The system does not show up for the mediation—only individuals do,” Cloke said. “It appears that, even within an organization in which hundreds of thousands of people have been fired, there is a systemic problem. Nonetheless, every person who has been fired takes in personally.”
Through examples such as global warming, terrorism, and the H1N1 virus, Cloke demonstrated the importance of mediators on a global scale.
“We are bringing together people who hate each other, people who believe that the other person is evil, people who do not believe at all in our ability to do anything about the problem,” said Cloke. “Yet, out of those people, we end up resolving significant numbers of disputes.”
April 10, Cloke hosted a workshop at the UO Law School entitled “Using Conflict Resolution Techniques to Reduce Stereotyping, Bias, and Prejudice.” The workshop, sponsored by both UO Conflict Resolution Services and the Community Mediation Services of Lane County, helped train those participating in the recognition and reduction of prejudice.