Cornell University

Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution

456 ILR Research Building, 607-255-9298

Dispute Resolution Practicum - ILRCB 619

Course Description

This course has the purpose of linking classroom discussion and analysis of arbitration and mediation with opportunities for students to observe actual arbitration and mediation cases.  The course is designed to be an advanced seminar for graduate and undergraduate students who have a serious interest in pursuing a career in arbitration or mediation. 

Classroom discussions and readings will focus on both labor arbitration and mediation (i.e. the use of arbitration and mediation in unionized settings) and employment arbitration and mediation (i.e. the use of arbitration and mediation in cases involving nonunion employees). 

During the first three weeks of the semester students will participate in a weekly 2 ½ hour session designed to thoroughly familiarize them with the use of arbitration and mediation to resolve workplace disputes.  In addition to focusing on how arbitrators and mediators handle disputes, the course will also cover the institutional and administrative arrangements that support the use of arbitration and mediation.  For example, the function of so-called "providers" (the American Arbitration Association, the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, the Cornell's ADR Services, etc.) will be examined.  The rules used by Cornell and other providers will also be discussed. 

During the next seven weeks of the semester students will have an opportunity to observe at least one arbitration case and one mediation case.  The instructors will seek the cooperation of experienced neutrals in the mid-Atlantic region, many of whom are either ILR School alumni or affiliated with the School.  Students in the practicum will "shadow" these neutrals when they hold arbitration hearings or conduct mediation sessions, and they will be required to complete a writing requirement based on their observations in the field.  (Students will need to travel to the sites where hearings or sessions are being held.  It is anticipated that much of this travel will occur during spring break.  The Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution will cover the students' travel expenses.) 

During the final three weeks of the semester students will again participate in a weekly 2 ½ hour session in which they will report on their field experiences and compare and contrast their observations.  The neutrals the students have observed will be invited to participate in one or more of these classroom sessions.  (Depending on the availability of the neutrals, the final sessions in the course may be conducted over a weekend.)  The effectiveness of arbitration and mediation as techniques for resolving workplace conflict will be assessed and lessons will be drawn about the best practices used by neutrals.  Required reading assignments will be drawn from the vast journal and specialized literature on arbitration and mediation. 

Instruction of the course will be shared by David Lipsky, Rocco Scanza, and Ronald Seeber.