This forum is dedicated to discussion of issues related to the Future of Mediation project, described below:
The Future of Mediation
This project, undertaken jointly by Noam Ebner and Alyson Carrel, seeks to forecast the future of the mediation field and the practice of mediation. We’ve mapped out the change processes currently underway and identified the potential for changes in areas including: the provision of professional services, the actors in mediation processes, the design and delivery of mediation services, traditional process management, models, values, and worldviews, as well as conflict itself. Some of these change processes have already clearly begun; others, we suspect, lie just around the corner. Most of these change processes are driven by the effects of the technological upheaval of the past couple of decades on people, processes, industries and society; other causes converge with technology to catalyze change. Each change-process, in its own self, is significant to the field and its practitioners. Combined, they portend a sea change in the world of mediation. To remain helpful and relevant in a changing world, mediation must adapt as a field, and individual mediators must evolve as practitioners. Our project seeks to illustrate the future of the mediation field, and to characterize and prepare the new mediator who will thrive in it.
At the field-level, the ramifications of the changes we've noted may justify, or require, reconsidering such top-level issues as the focal point of the field's identity, the nature and role of its organizations, the ethics of the field, and more. They also invite revisiting of its various areas of practice such as systems design, community work, and court-connected practice. Perhaps new sources of cases might be identified, and new long-term partnerships formed.
In terms of preparing the new mediator (including, preparing the seasoned practitioner for future practice) these changes require consideration of the field's educational and preparatory pathways and content. What new competencies are required, for conducting the mediation cases of tomorrow? What professional pathways might be available, for tomorrow's practitioner?
Our exploration offers an opportunity to revisit seminal questions in the field, such as the question Bernie Mayer posed in Beyond Neutrality (2004): Why do people not seek out the services of the conflict resolution world, or view them as relevant to the problems of the day? We hope to come up with a new, meditation-centered, response which envisions new practice for mediators, and a rebooted approach to mediation that is both of value and valued, appealing to parties to conflict as well as to conflict practitioners. Other core issues and well-known debates in the mediation field will be reviewed anew, in light of the societal and professional shifts affecting the field. These include the role of conflict and the value of settlement, the centrality of neutrality to mediation work, the role of the mediator in ensuring fair, stable, and socially desirable outcomes, and the role of mediator and case evaluations. In (re)visiting these issues, we hope to provide new frames through which they can continue to inform and improve the mediation field.
From time to time, we will pose new materials on these topics or raise questions for discussion. We hope you will share your thoughts on these issues!
If you'd like to be involved in the project, please reach out to us through the forum or by email, and we will be in touch.
If you have heard one of us present on these issues, and have follow-up questions, or wish to add to the list of questions we intend to pose to practitioners, academics and students at conferences or in class, please share them with us.