Mediation program brings new opportunities to students

Durham College received exciting news this fall when it’s one-year Mediation Alternative Dispute Resolution (MADR) graduate certificate program was approved by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (ADR Institute).

The approval means that students and graduates now have the opportunity to become members of the ADR Institute, enhancing their professional portfolios and creating networking opportunities with a series of industry experts.

“Durham College is the only college in Ontario offering a graduate certificate in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which gives our students and graduates a competitive edge in respect to employability,” said Virginia Harwood, MADR program co-ordinator.

The program, launched by the School of Justice & Emergency Services in September 2010, is designed for students with a background in areas such as human resources, education, justice and health care.

Students are trained to analyze conflict situations; adopt resolution and negotiation techniques; and use a systematic approach to anticipate and solve potential problems. They develop effective written, spoken and visual communication skills; learn how to effectively work in group settings; and enhance their ability to listen, analyze and resolve issues between opposing parties.

Students are also required to participate in Campus Conflict Resolution Services, a service that enables them to work with a third-party mediator to resolve issues of conflict for students. Acting as mediators, they work to resolve issues among friends, groups, classmates and teams. As part of the service they also contribute to the creation of a working resolution centre on campus, visiting classrooms to promote and address the benefits of ADR.

Many businesses have adopted ADR as a method for resolving conflicts because it is a cost-effective approach to reaching an agreement in a timely manner. The ADR Institute is a professional, non-profit organization responsible for setting the recommended guidelines for mediation and dispute resolution. It is one of six affiliates to the ADR Institute of Canada, which works to share information and promote ideas for continuous improvement and development when dealing with conflict as a professional.

ADR has grown in acceptance in recent years, becoming a common technique for resolving arguments in a variety of settings including the workplace, at school or at personal and social functions.