Mediation and multiculturalism arise from separate histories and serve different ends. Mediation is a collaborative alternative to the legal system for resolving all kinds of conflicts. Multiculturalism is the philosophy and practice of honouring cultural difference through developing systems that institutionalize pluralism (Roberts and Clifton, 1990). While each of these ideas have animated programs and literatures, little attention was given to the connections between them until the early nineties.1 Since that time, conflict resolution systems and processes have been scrutinized for embedded cultural values and implications for who is included and excluded. Training programs in mediation have progressed from making no mention of culture to adding modules on culture. But modules on culture are only the beginning. Truly competent practice and process design requires a complex understanding of culture and the development of intercultural capacities by third parties.

Author Bio(s)

Michelle LeBaron is Associate Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is a lawyer and psychotherapist who has worked in many areas of dispute resolution including public policy, international, family and intercultural.


mediation, multiculturalism, pluralism, problem solving

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