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Program on Alternative Dispute Resolution

2007-08 Schwartz Lecture on Dispute Resolution

Deliberative Democracy and Dispute Resolution

April 10, 2008 | Noon | Saxbe Auditorium

Lawrence SusskindLawrence Susskind
Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT
Vice-Chair for Instruction at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
Founder, Consensus Building Institute

Archived Webcast

Is our commitment to Alternative Dispute Resolution consistent with our commitment to democracy? Particularly in the public dispute resolution field - which encompasses efforts to mediate land use disputes, environmental controversies, battles over the content of regulations, and many other disagreements over policy and resource allocation - there is concern that ad hoc efforts to generate agreement among self-appointed stakeholders are anti-democratic. For thirty years Professor Susskind has observed complex public dispute resolution efforts around the world, often serving as a mediator himself. His views on the democratic or anti-democratic nature of public dispute resolution efforts may surprise you.

Drawing on his recent book with Jeffrey Cruikshnank, Breaking Robert's Rules (Oxford University Press, 2006) as well as on his award-winning Consensus Building Handbook (Sage Publishers, 1999), Professor Susskind will examine the responsibilities that mediators have for upholding democratic ideals, particularly when the parties have unequal political power. He will also explore the ethical dilemmas facing public dispute mediators who must worry about the public interest being served while simultaneously maintaining their neutrality. He will focus primarily on the United States, although Professor Susskind will also talk about his efforts to help "export" public dispute resolution to a number of other countries and cultures.

The Schwartz Lecture on Dispute Resolution was established in 1992 as a result of the generosity of the late Stanley Schwartz Jr. (a 1947 Moritz College of Law graduate) and the Schwartz family. Each lecture is published in the interdisciplinary Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, in keeping with Mr. Schwartz’s interest in the promotion of scholarly publication in the area of dispute resolution.