Professor Alexander talks about conflict and mediation training at IICER of HKSYU


IICER, The International Institute for Conflict Engagement and Resolution (仁大國際調解研究中心), established by the Department of Law and Business of Hong Kong Shue Yan University in October 2011, aims to train students with mediation skills, to provide training courses to potential mediators and to carry out research on conflict issues, according to the Director of the Institute, Professor Nadja Alexander.

Professor Nadja Alexander, who is also the Professor of Conflict Resolution of the Law and Business department, is recognised as a world authority on mediation. An accredited mediator in Hong Kong (HKIAC) and Australia (LEADR), she has extensive experience as a mediation practitioner, researcher and consultant in Australia, Asia and Europe. She is currently leading a commercial mediation practice project in the Pacific region for the International Finance Corporation and is actively engaged in mediation policy, with an appointment to the Hong Kong Mediation Task Force by the Secretary of Justice.

Professor Alexander takes the view that mediation plays an important role in resolving disputes of all kinds in our contemporary society. The major advantages of mediation include its flexibility, privacy and confidentiality, and the avoidance of unnecessary time delays and high costs normally associated with litigation and arbitration.

In her book entitled, Mediation in Hong Kong: Process and Practice (Lexis Nexis 2010), Professor Alexander explains that “Mediators generally use processes that support and encourage parties to:

•   identify their interests;

•   identify common ground and areas of difference;

•   formulate the issues they need to talk through;

•   discuss and negotiate their differences;

•   generate options for agreement; and

•   make decisions about a way to move forward.”

This explanation is consistent with the definition of mediation offered by the American internationally renowned scholars, Jay Folberg and Alison Taylor. The define mediation as “the process by which the participants, together with the assistance of a neutral third person or persons, systematically isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives, and reach a consensual settlement that will accommodate their needs.”

Mediation course offered

Professor Alexander anticipates that numerous students will elect to become accredited mediators after graduation. The Law and Business Department now offers an elective course, “Commercial Dispute Resolution” for third and final year students.

“Commercial dispute resolution is especially important in legal and other professional fields, and those students taking this course will definitely benefit in the future,” said Professor Alexander.

As explained by Professor Alexander, the teaching method of “Commercial Dispute Resolution” is highly interactive and comprises lectures, video input, small group activities and role-playing.

“IICER can assist Law and Business students to acquire mediation knowledge and skills. Besides hosting seminars and workshops for students, IICER will also facilitate research in mediation and negotiation, comparative and international alternative dispute resolution, intercultural mediation and online dispute resolution,” said Professor Alexander.

According to Professor Alexander, IICER will address the challenges of conflict also through workshops for practitioners and postgraduates, and offering practice and policy advice.      IICER is committed to enhance people’s individual and collective capacities to understand and manage disputes.

In 2011, IICER held two professional and intensive mediation workshops, including the “Mediation Refresher: Workshop on Preparation for Mediator Assessment” and the “Mediator Accreditation Assessment – Stage 2”. In mediator training courses participants engage in small group role plays with input and feedback from professional mediators. In this way participants receive practical advice and experience on how to handle conflicts effectively. In the assessment workshop, candidates for accreditation completed two role-plays as mediator and at least one role-play as a party; and they were required to complete a written piece of self-reflective assessment.

Talking about the future plans of IICER, Professor Alexander said that the Institute will hold a professional summer school in July 2012. Last but not least, Professor Alexander said she is looking forward to cooperating with other universities in Hong Kong and other countries in relation to mediation events such as intensive training schools and competitions. She believes that such activities can help to enhance students’ learning beyond the books.


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