Book Title

Manual for Colleges and Universities Developing Programs in Peace & Conflict Studies

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Peace and conflict studies, course delivery


Colleges and universities in the United States have long recognized the necessity of dispute resolution for the many different stakeholders who come together to live and work in the relatively confined campus community. Traditionally, student, faculty, and staff disputes were handled by offices of student affairs, human resource departments and legal affairs, or other administrative units. On the student side, administrators or student judges presided over disputes among students, infractions over code of conduct, or other policies, and resolved with either a dismissal of the issue or with imposed sanctions. On the employee side, formal investigation resulted in dismissal of the grievance or punitive actions such as formal reprimands, probation, involuntary leaves of absence, or termination. Occasionally, a decision would prompt costly legal action attempting to overturn a punitive decision. These traditional methods encourage reasonable behavior by rendering a third-party verdict on the violation. However, these systems did not always serve to uncover and help parties grapple with underlying issues, address needs and concerns fueling the dispute, or assist in the ongoing relationship among the parties. In addition, many of these traditional procedures were costly in terms of time, effort, negative morale and resources. Over the past few decades, creative and effective alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services have supplemented these traditional practices at many institutions. These services range from preventative measures such as training and coaching to more formal reactive procedures such as conciliation, facilitation, mediation, and arbitration. These services are more closely aligned with the vision, mission, and values of a modern university emphasizing community, inclusiveness, tolerance, collaboration, emotional intelligence, and life skills, while dealing more effectively with the substantive, procedural, and relationship issues at the core of disputes. This chapter focuses on the use of mediation as one of the most popular alternative dispute resolution processes and illustrates its many uses for student, faculty, and staff disputes within the institutional setting. Some of the data for this chapter were collected by 27 graduate students1 in a “Peer Mediation and Conflict Resolution in Higher Education” course taught through the Department of Conflict Resolution Studies at Nova Southeastern University. The focus is on college and university centers and programs that provide mediation services primarily to members of the campus community. Data include a summary of over 100 higher education institutions where our preliminary, mostly web-based research indicated some use of ADR practices. The institutions in our sample include small private schools, religious academic institutions, prestigious private research universities, and large public universities. The sample programs are diverse in their focus, services offered, client base, funding, housing, and other dimensions. In addition, this chapter makes a case for why mediation and ADR services are congruent with the mission of the modern university and the need to expand their use and effectiveness, particularly in the area of employee disputes. Sections of this article include some major historical milestones of ADR development in higher education, why ADR processes are necessary to mitigate the cost of unproductive conflict, an overview of the variety of ADR options available on campuses today, and the need to expand its use throughout the campus population.


Conflict Studies Collaborative



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Education | Peace and Conflict Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences



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