Project Title

The Space for Uncertainty: U.S. Mediators’ Experience with Ambiguity and Self-Awareness During Mediation

Presenters

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

Faculty Sponsor Name

Darina Lepadatu, PhD

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Within the field of mediation, there currently is interest in how participation in the arts (such as music, visual arts, theater, and other types of performance) can support creative approaches to conflict resolution. However, specific theories explaining such connections are not fully developed. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore possible intersections between two specific mediator skills—comfort with ambiguity and self-awareness—that are also used in one type of performance art—improvisational (improv) theater. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews in order to better understand how mediators think about ambiguity in their work, how they make meaning of those experiences, and how they understand their own decision-making processes and actions during a mediation. Additionally, a focus group was conducted with mediators who also provide training in the field. These data provided insights about skills mediators use and how to teach those skills. Understanding mediators’ experiences with ambiguity and self-awareness during mediations can contribute to further theory development, support improvement to existing mediator trainings, as well as inform questions about whether alternative forms of training—such as arts-based workshops—can provide opportunities for mediators to practice these skills in new ways.

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

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The Space for Uncertainty: U.S. Mediators’ Experience with Ambiguity and Self-Awareness During Mediation

Within the field of mediation, there currently is interest in how participation in the arts (such as music, visual arts, theater, and other types of performance) can support creative approaches to conflict resolution. However, specific theories explaining such connections are not fully developed. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore possible intersections between two specific mediator skills—comfort with ambiguity and self-awareness—that are also used in one type of performance art—improvisational (improv) theater. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews in order to better understand how mediators think about ambiguity in their work, how they make meaning of those experiences, and how they understand their own decision-making processes and actions during a mediation. Additionally, a focus group was conducted with mediators who also provide training in the field. These data provided insights about skills mediators use and how to teach those skills. Understanding mediators’ experiences with ambiguity and self-awareness during mediations can contribute to further theory development, support improvement to existing mediator trainings, as well as inform questions about whether alternative forms of training—such as arts-based workshops—can provide opportunities for mediators to practice these skills in new ways.