Simon Boehme '14
When I was applying to colleges, I started out focused on political science programs. Then I found ILR and discovered that it captured all of my interests: government, public policy, business, and law. I was also very excited by the courses and programs on conflict resolution, and they turned out to be some of my best experiences at ILR. The classes made me so much better prepared to manage conflict and negotiate situations in any career. Learning to manage conflict so you can come out of it maintaining relationships and finding win-win solutions is an extremely valuable skill. We often don’t realize that conflict is everywhere - with our parents, our teachers, our bosses - but there are tactics and strategies that you can use to handle these situations, and that’s what I loved learning about at ILR.
I was a Research Assistant at the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, which provides courses, research, and training in the field of alternative dispute resolution. I wanted to become more involved in the organization after taking their three-day mediation training course, which prepares you to better handle conflict anywhere, whether you’re at work or with other students. I was part of a project that analyzed collective bargaining agreements between teacher unions and boards of education in every school district in New York State. We analyzed teacher contracts and these negotiations because we believed that improving outcomes for teachers and students can be achieved at the bargaining table. My senior honors thesis built on this work and examined teacher evaluation systems.
I also conducted research at Cornell’s Law School. We analyzed and coded citizen feedback from public comment periods to see which ones were helpful, which allowed us to create a program that mediates the public commentary system called Regulation Room, an initiative of eRulemaking. The ultimate goal was to have a more effective system by which the public can meaningfully weigh in on any proposed legislation.
Summer in India
I spent one summer in India through ILR’s Global Service Learning partnership with the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). We started our trip by taking classes on Indian history, gender issues, and the economic and health challenges throughout the country. I then worked as a policy and research intern and created a leadership development and evaluation program for headmasters in rural schools. I designed the curriculum and also created a way to measure the program's success.
I wound up using the skills and knowledge right out of my conflict resolution, organizational behavior, and statistics classes, and I was able to directly apply the lessons on leadership, training, and research methods that we learn at ILR. It’s very exciting for me to think that this project I worked on is now being used to help 250 public schools in India.