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This fall I was flipping through the pages of an academic coursebook when I saw an interesting course possibility for the interterm period. There were two intriguing classes listed, Dealing With Conflict and Negotiation Theory. I was curious to see what they were, so I signed up for them, and I’m glad I did.
Both of these classes are part of a unique Bethel offering, the Peace and Justice program that we have here. They are done through an institution called the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, or KIPCOR, that is affiliated with Bethel. KIPCOR is an independent association that also serves as a mediation center for individuals involved in disputes, domestic or otherwise, that they wish to work out. They are the first stop for individuals wishing to enter the local small claims and divorce court, as well as offering their services to anyone desiring help with mediation in a conflict situation. It’s a unique institution that offers students practical experience along with the theoretical knowledge that is oftentimes found in the classroom.
The KIPCOR teachers both emphasized the practical aspect of their work throughout the course on Mediation (Handling Conflict). This subject was completely new to me. It’s something that we all do to some extent but rarely think about. It was fascinating to read the theory behind positive approaches to managing conflict and understanding “that’s why that approach works!”. In addition, the teachers placed a heavy emphasis on the practicality of these skills. Every day the emphasis was on taking what you learned and applying it to real world situations. We did multiple role plays that placed us in a lifelike situation. These role plays challenged us and allowed our skills to improve rapidly.
This course was offered over only four days, but it was worth two credits. After being in class for eight hours a day, I can say that this class taught me at least two credits, if not more, of knowledge. I loved this class, because it was challenging and stimulating. I went in there knowing little about mediation and came out all fired up and ready to mediate conflict. I am very glad that I was able to take this class through the unique partnership between Bethel and KIPCOR.
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