Community Colleges as Places to Explore and Resolve Differences: Community Mediation

By: David J. Smith, January 8, 2016

I’ve written before about the role that community colleges can play in advancing the use of nonviolent and consensus based approaches to bridging differences.  In this way, community colleges play an important role in preventing the escalation of conflict and advancing peacebuilding and social justice.

A growing number of community colleges are collaborating with their local community mediation centers in providing them space for their offices and a venue to conduct mediation, mediation training, and host related events.  This is a natural partnership: both are engaged in promoting community wellness and learning.   Many community colleges are centers of not only traditional higher education, but workforce development, cultural events, and community education.   Positioning community colleges as places where differences can be considered is ideally aligned with their missions of being “for and of” the local community.

I had a chance recently to visit with Julie Walton who is the newly appointed coordinator of the community mediation center in Charles County in La Plata, Maryland.  The center’s office has recently moved to the College of Southern Maryland, and her position is supported by the college.   This piece from Southern Maryland Online (12/22/15) considers the center and Julie’s appointment.  In Maryland,  Howard Community College and Carroll Community College also sponsor local community mediation centers.   This is also taking place in other parts of the U.S.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with The Peace Institute at Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington, which not only offers community mediation services but trains using the Sustained Dialogue model and offers other community programs.

If you are interested in the programs mentioned, just followed the links above.  Julie Walton can be reached at jawalton1@csm.edu.

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