Atkinson in forefront of dispute resolution courses

York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, a leader in teaching people ways of resolving disputes, is now offering an Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution.

Atkinson led the way seven years ago when it launched one of the first – and most widely recognized – certificates in dispute resolution. The new advanced certificate provides students with a superior educational experience based upon a challenging program of conflict theory, ethics, and skill refinement.

Elaine Newman, academic coordinator of York’s Dispute programs notes, “Mediation is a new and self-regulating profession. Those who train mediators are under a moral obligation to ensure that our profession is continually renewed with bright, highly skilled and scrupulously ethical practitioners. Our goal is to contribute to the profession by ensuring that our graduates will be excellent and ethical mediators.”

Working within the small claims environment will be both challenging and rewarding, as noted by Fred Zemans, one of the founders of the Osgoode Hall Law School LLM (ADR) Program and coordinator of the Small Claims Court Practicum: “The Small Claims Court will require our students to apply all of their dispute resolution skills and abilities within a dynamic environment.” Mediations within the Small Claims Courts will be intensive and immediate. Zemans indicates that students will literally “attempt to facilitate agreement on the courtroom steps.”

According to Frank Cappadocia, program and logistic manager in the Atkinson Division of Continuing Education, “The new advanced certificate program takes our teaching ambitions to the next level. First we provide opportunities for our students to observe mediations in the field. Then, we enable them to employ their classroom skills by conducting mediations. This is a breakthrough in dispute resolution education. No other program has been able to integrate observation, theory and practice so closely. It is a winning combination.”

The program will be serving an important public interest by offering free mediation to litigants in a number of Small Claims Courts, bringing advanced students out of the classroom and into the field. Gary Furlong, one of the program’s lead instructors and president of the ADR Institute of Ontario, suggests that the “program is unique in the alternative dispute resolution field, in that it offers live experience mediating actual cases. This is invaluable training for new mediators.”