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Conflict Management in Higher Ed Report
Volume 4, Number 1, Oct. 2003

Building a High School
to College Campus Mediator
Bridge

In May of this year 25 people from across the country joined me at the Timber Ridge Retreat Center outside of Atlanta Georgia. Our goal was to see if we could start doing a better job supporting high school mediation program alumni in their transitions to college and hopefully, future careers in the conflict resolution field. The snapshots below were taken at this engaging and productive meeting.

As Report readers are probably aware, peer mediation programs have become quite common in high schools. Thousands of programs now exist across North America. As a result, every year students with mediation training and experience graduate from high school and many of them go on to college. And while the number of mediation programs at colleges and universities is growing steadily (230+ nationwide), few high school mediation program alumni ever connect with them. Instead, their skills and training "fall through the cracks" of the higher education system.

No network or system is in place to help these young and typically quite skilled conflict resolvers connect at the college and university level. Students with prior mediation experience have no easy mechanism to identify other high school peer mediator alums at their new chosen university, and thus must forego a possible new peer group at college that could help them adjust to the demands of finding friends and fitting in at college. Likewise, existing college conflict resolution mediation services and conflict studies degree granting programs have no easy way to identify and involve these especially promising new students.

Our two and a half day working retreat was organized and sponsored by the Conflict Management in Higher Education Resource Center (http://www.campus-adr.org) that I direct with special support coming from the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Georgia State University. The group that gathered in Georgia to work on the problem included high school mediators (current and former), community mediators, school conflict resolution program managers, guidance counseling staff, regional conflict resolution program coordinators, campus ombuds, university faculty from peace and conflict resolution academic programs, staff from university mediation programs, and national experts on conflict resolution in education.

 
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