Individuals trained as mediators find that the skills they learn are applicable to daily communication in their personal and professional lives. People from all walks of life have become mediators-attorneys, counselors, teachers, police officers, human resource professionals, homemakers, college students, and even young children. Some who are trained have found a calling in mediation-an outlet for their lifelong goal of helping peopl_e. Others use mediation in their career path or integrate the skills into their existing vocations.

What is it about mediation that appeals to so many different kinds of people and is use­ ful in so many different contexts? Mediation is about empowering people to make their own informed choices rather than having a third party (such as a judge) make a decision for them. Mediation is grounded in the belief that conflict offers an opportunity to build stronger individuals, more satisfying relationships, and better communities. As a student of mediation, you will learn the philosophies and theories that underlie mediation, as well as foundational skills any mediator must possess.

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We liv~ in a society replete with conflict. We also live in a litigious society. Every day we hear stones about someone being sued for serving coffee that is too hot, having icy side­ walks, or failing to fulfill an agreement. Although litigation has a respectable and important place in society, sometimes there are less adversarial, cheaper, and quicker ways to resolve conflic~. As we hear strange tales about neighbors who sue each other about where they put their trash on garbage collection day, we wonder, “Why didn’t these neighbors just talk it out?” In a nutshell, that is what mediation offers disputants: a chance to “talk it out” in a safe and controlled environment.