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Mediation at Dartmouth M@D

December Program in the Ethics of Conflict Resolution

2014 participants in the December program in the Ethics Of Conflict Resolution and Community Organization

Founded in 2012, Mediation at Dartmouth (M@D) is a Council on Student Organizations (COSO) group dedicated to bringing conflict resolution to the Dartmouth Community and the Upper Valley.

On campus, the group works to achieve peaceful compromise between conflicting parties by providing peer mediation services. Our certified student mediators, who have each completed over forty hours of training led by Dr. Leah Wing of the Social Justice Mediation Institute, engage with disputants to make sure that all sides have a chance to share their story. The goal is not for mediators to apply "Band Aid" fixes to the symptoms of a problem but rather to uncover the root issues at hand, enabling disputants to come to their own, lasting solution.

M@D's work is not limited to the Dartmouth campus. In December 2012, members of Mediation at Dartmouth attended a week long seminar at the University of Miami School of Law focused on legal ethics, conflict resolution, and community service (see article below). Upon returning to Dartmouth, M@D decided to expand its services to the Upper Valley as a whole. The group works to develop conflict management workshops and programs for a variety of age ranges.

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University of Miami School of Law Fellowship 2014

Evelyn Weinstein's article written about the experience:

Last month, ten Dartmouth students went to Miami for a week-long program on ethics, public service, and law. The Dartmouth Ethics Institute worked alongside Miami University School of Law's Center for Ethics and Public Service (CEPS) to put on the program. students heard seminar-style lectures from local advocates, entrepreneurs, and professors, and also took a few excursions into the Miami area to see community projects firsthand.

CEPS teaches Miami Law students about public interest law and works with the Miami community on various service-oriented projects. Public interest law is a field of legal work. It’s performed for minority and low-income people with a public good in mind. Many types of lawyers do public interest law; legal aid, public defenders, state attorneys, and private lawyers can all be involved. It is also a broader movement towards using the law for the public good. The Miami program focused on various aspects of public interest law, with some additional work on social entrepreneurship and career-building.

A diverse group of Miami Law professors gave lectures on their subjects of expertise. The professor in charge of the school’s law clinics informed the students about what clinics look like and discussed various aspects of youth law, especially issues with foster care and child welfare. Another taught about how lawyers require cultural competence to properly understand and serve their clients. One professor, who had founded the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, spoke about free speech, cyber law, and revenge porn. A professor with experience in social movements spoke on social justice, policy advocacy, and challenging systems of subordination by building diverse movements that go beyond the sphere of law. A professor who had often defended sex offenders in court spoke on the punishment and control of sex offenders. Another professor who specializes in how race influences the law spoke on how legally enforced racial discrimination has influenced American society.

UMiami December Program Participants 

pictured standing; Terren Klein, Evelyn Weinstein, Sarah Zmarrou,
Isabella Coleman,Marina Shkuratov, seated; Aine Donovan, 
Vungelia Glyptis, Erin Weldon, Sera Kwon, Michelle Li,
and Jake Bayer

Other visitors opened the students’ eyes to still more facets of law. A lawyer (and alumnus of Miami Law) from the Miami Beach City Attorney’s Office spoke with the students about the importance of local government in using law for social change. The co-founder of the LAB Miami, a collaborative working environment for small entrepreneurs, spoke about building a business and the value of social entrepreneurship to communities. The LAB is a building where local entrepreneurs can rent a desk on a monthly basis so that they have inexpensive office space and the ability to network with other professionals in related fields. The Dartmouth students visited the LAB to understand how its members benefit from the layout.

The students also heard about two environmental law community initiatives. CEPS made a documentary about “Old Smokey,” a local garbage disposal plant that spewed thick smoke into a Coconut Grove—a poor neighborhood of Miami—for decades. Despite numerous complaints from that community, the city government did not shut down the plant until the smoke began to enter a neighboring wealthy community and those residents began to complain. The students visited the Coconut Grove Historic Black Church to have lunch with local leaders and activists and listen to their experiences. The students also listened to the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper discuss the difficulty and importance maintaining a clean water ecosystem in the face of economic activity, especially underwater construction.

Several of the speakers took some time to answer students’ questions about preparing to enter the legal profession. They gave career advice, thoughts on law school, and ideas about how to approach achieving professional goals. The director of Miami Law’s Public Interest Resource Center spoke about creating a personal identity as a lawyer and positioning oneself to be fulfilled. The director of CEPS held a lunchtime discussion with the students to advise them on shaping their career paths. The program had an overwhelmingly positive response from Dartmouth students. Marina Shkuratov calls the trip “an incredible opportunity”: “This program definitely changed my ideas about the law and public service by giving me more hands-on access than I had before. Actually listening to people who have studied and practiced these issues made them much more tangible and nuanced for me. I also think the program effectively put these issues in the context of Miami, and such a regional approach made it far more personal than simply learning theories.” She also enjoyed how the program’s structure lent itself to a diversity of subjects and perspectives: “The program was an incredible opportunity because it brought together accomplished speakers from across disciplines to teach us about the law and ethics in a hands-on way that integrated the richness of Miami's history and community. The chance to engage critically with topics I have always been interested in but had never been directly exposed to was eye-opening and extremely rewarding.” Isabella Coleman enjoyed the opportunity “to explore ethics and law from top professionals in the field and simultaneously apply the concepts to current issues plaguing communities around the city.” She also states that while she loved all the speakers and productive conversation, she wished that the students could actually do something to help the communities we discussed.


Last Updated: 2/3/15