"A Realistic Environment"
New videoconferencing technology at the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution is opening doors for the next generation of neutrals and practitioners.
"The improved technology increases student access to professional mediators and arbitrators who moderate and judge intercollegiate mediation and arbitration events," said Rocco Scanza, executive director of the institute.
"It also reflects a more true-to-life experience," he said.
Without leaving the institute on Garden Avenue, Scheinman teams are now competing with intercollegiate rivals in an environment that echoes "how disputes are solved in the real world," Scanza said.
"Many of the students will go on to do this in their careers, so we're really working to make sure that this is realistic," he said. Increasingly, professional arbitrations and mediations are taking place over video.
"The technology also increases student access to the expertise of institute board members," Scanza said.
Hailing from law, corporate, public sector, arbitration and mediation backgrounds, board members lend their expertise more often, now that geographic divides have been conquered by technology.
Among board members working with students to improve their skills are Gwynne Wilcox, who coached the Scheinman team in its arbitration with the Marquette University Law School Nov. 16.
Nancy Hoffman '66 served as arbitrator and Diane Rosen '78 coached the Nov. 2 mediation exercise, also with Marquette Law. School.
In 2014, Barry Hartstein '78 will serve as coach in an employment mediation scrimmage in Illinois and Jay Waks '68, Law '71 will coach Scheinman's team in a Yale University employment arbitration exercise.
According to Katrina Nobles, the institute's marketing and program manager, the technology cuts team travel, lodging and food costs and averts issues often associated with technology.
A slow Internet connection, dropped calls and audio lags are non-issues because the new system runs on a device-specific Internet Protocol address, rather than on a tenuous Internet connection.
"It's like having a conversation on a landline versus on a cell phone," Nobles explained. The $37,000 software and equipment debuted in the employment mediation exercise between Cornell and Marquette University Nov 16. See the recorded webcast at http://tinyurl.com/oz97uee.
"The use of technology for student alternative dispute resolution competition is really unprecedented, certainly at the frequency of the Scheinman Institute's schedule" Scanza said, noting that Cornell is at the forefront of integrating videoconferencing technology into college competitions.