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10:54 a.m., Oct. 9, 2014--Like many students on the University of
Delaware campus, the Institute for Public Administrations Conflict
Resolution Program (CRP) turned 20 this year.
That is 20 years of providing alternative dispute-resolution services
to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and
educational institutions 20 years of peacemaking, a CRP representative
On Thursday, Oct. 16, the program will commemorate this milestone by
hosting a luncheon in partnership with the Delaware Conflict Resolution
The celebration also coincides with Conflict Resolution Day, an
international celebration to promote awareness of mediation,
arbitration, conciliation, and other creative, peaceful means of
The luncheon will take place at Buena Vista Conference Center in New
Castle, Delaware, on the last day of a four-day mediation training
hosted by the CRP.
UD staff and students, along with members of the Delaware Conflict
Resolution Network, practitioners, community members and government
officials, will be in attendance.
In the beginning
At the start, the CRP was focused on conflict resolution in schools.
The program flourished, teaching collaborative resolution skills to
teachers, parents, and students throughout schools as an alternative to
Through its reputation of excellence in facilitation and mediation,
the CRP developed Delawares first statewide special-education mediation
program, the Special Education Partnership for Amicable Resolution of
Conflict (SPARC). This partnership has led to 153 mediations, with 119
agreements reached since 1996.
Delaware was at the forefront; they had special mediation programs
offered to students and parents before the federal government required
them, said Kathy Murphy, coordinator of the CRP.
The CRP also began facilitating Individualized Education Program
(IEP) meetings. These meetings provide space for educators and parents
to develop the best educational plans for their students with special
needs. Since 2000, CRP has facilitated over 179 IEP meetings.
For 11 years, the CRP has been offering basic mediation training that
teaches skills such as collaborative problem solving, meeting design,
and facilitation. Now offered twice a year, basic mediation training
boasts 187 graduates from nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and
local and state government offices.
Under the direction of Murphy and Fran Fletcher, the program has
flourished, bringing facilitation and mediation skills to all sectors of
Delawares workforce. With 33 years of experience with the CRP between
them, Murphy and Fletcher bring unparalleled knowledge to their work.
In 1997, the CRP became part of the Institute for Public
Administration (IPA), a research center within the School of Public
Policy and Administration in UDs College of Arts and Sciences.
This allowed the program to expand into other sectors beyond
education. Now, the CRP also provides nonprofit organizations and local
and state government offices with services ranging from meeting design
and facilitation to strategic planning and team building.
It was an ideal fit between the CRP and IPA because the work that we
do really focuses on key concepts around democratic practices such as
debate, dialogue, consensus building and collaboration, said Murphy.
As a member of the IPA team weve had an opportunity to work with other
people in that team and move into areas that IPA has a long tradition
of working in.
The move to IPA also provided an opportunity for greater student
involvement. Undergraduate and Graduate Public Administration Fellows
contribute to the running and development of the CRP, through event
planning and coordination and writing for the CRP newsletter, Synergy.
One of the most rewarding parts has been being able to learn from
Kathy and Fran and soak in their knowledge, said graduate student
Katrina Cowart, now in her second year of working on CRP.
Before I started working with the CRP I really didnt know what
conflict resolution was, Cowart said, but now I have a better idea of
what conflict resolution is and how that is really applicable to many
different settings rather than just that as a field in itself.
Exceptional Children Resources
Since 1994 the Delaware Department of Educations Exceptional
Children Resources (ECR) has been collaborating with the CRP to build a
sustainable, systemic dispute resolution system that provides direct
service to parents and educators while building their capacity to work
collaboratively in the best interest of children.
In recognition of this beneficial collaboration, the ECR will also be
honored at the event on Oct. 16 for their leadership in special
education dispute resolution. Delaware has been in the forefront of
providing options for families and educators to address conflict early,
respectfully, and collaboratively. The CRP plans to keep this tradition
going, a representative said.
Article by Emily Floros
Originally published by UDaily
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