Description of Courses

Conflict: When worlds collide

Week 1: Monday

This course provides a general understanding of conflict and personal conflict management. Students are guided through the various theories of conflict to understand how conflict arises (causes of conflict), how it escalates, the patterns it follows and the different ways in which people react to it. They will explore their own definitions of conflict, peace and fight in group discussions and they will reflect on their preconceived notions and assumptions. This course will also focus on understanding, avoiding and leveraging cognitive biases and is designed to teach students to explore effective conflict management strategies and tactics.

Conflict: Identity and Conflict

Week 1: Monday

In this course students focus on understanding intrapersonal dynamics and how they affect conflict. It is designed to stress the impact that perceptions, cultural differences, gender, race, ethnicity and stereotypes have on conflict. This course takes an interdisciplinary look at issues related with the different meaning of conflict from a cross-cultural perspective and aims to explore how different values, religious beliefs and differences in attitudes affect conflict analysis and conflict resolution. It is a blend of theory and practical application that will help participants also gain a better understanding of their personal style when faced with conflict and explore how their own experiences can affect their judgement and perceptions.

Visit to a Court

Week 1: Tuesday

Students will be engaged in a variety of learning activities, one of which includes a visit to a court. They will have the opportunity to experience a typical day in a courtroom and witness the role of judges and lawyers. That will help them contrast the traditional way of resolving a dispute through a court ruling with the so called «out of court» settlement processes which are the alternatives to traditional court proceedings (known as ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution). As part of their guided learning, students will be expected to share their observations and experiences in an open discussion that will follow the visit.

How Do We Resolve It

Week 1: Wednesday

This course is designed to introduce the principles and practices of various methods of dispute resolution. It involves the study of what is called the «Dispute Resolution Spectrum» and incorporates a review on negotiations, mediation, arbitration and litigation while placing the focus on the non-litigation processes of dispute resolution and their relationship to traditional litigation (binding and non binding processes). Course participants will also consider how internet technology has affected and assisted dispute resolution processes and to what extent it has or will replace traditional methods of resolving disputes. They will have the opportunity to learn about e-justice, Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and online tools and applications for resolving disputes online which are already used by large corporations (e-bay, google etc) as well as the European Union (ODR platform).

What is Mediation

Week 1: Wednesday

This course will explore the fundamental principles of mediation and aims to provide and in depth insight into mediation as an ADR process. Students will understand the role of a third neutral party, the mediator, in assisting disputing parties to find their own solution to their problem. It will provide an overview of the theoretical and practical aspects of mediation including the ground rules, the anatomy of a mediation process (stages) and the anatomy of the mediation sessions (understanding the issues, building trust and rapport, moving from positions to interests and reaching consensus). Emphasis will be placed on the role of the mediator as a neutral and impartial third party, the skills required to guide and facilitate disputants in seeking a solution that satisfies their underlying interests and needs and the common obstacles that exist in reaching a commonly agreed solution. Students will be given ample opportunity to practice mediating conflicts and understand the value of mediation as a conflict resolution tool applicable in real life situations and problems.


Week 1: Thursday

This course presents an introduction to the field of negotiations and will provide students both with theoretical and practical skills to become effective and confident negotiators. Competitive positional bargaining will be contrasted to collaborative problem solving. Based on the Harvard Negotiation Model developed by Fisher and Ury, this course will encourage students to apply the principles of integrative negotiations, including seeking underlying interests, engaging in constructive dialogue, using objective criteria, identifying common ground and developing creative options. Ethics and values in negotiations will also be addressed along with common mistakes, psychological barriers and traps faced in the course of negotiations. This course has a particular interactive element through group exercises, individual exercises and role play exercises.


Week 1: Friday

This course addresses the challenges of human communication and the role of emotions as obstacles to mutual understanding. It will be conducted through a variety of group exercises, open discussions and practical applications that will help students identify a range of concepts related to communication such as influence, persuasion, perceptions and assumptions. It will elaborate on basic techniques, extensively used in mediation, namely active listening, empathy, acknowledging, reframing, paraphrasing, reflecting and summarizing. Students will be taught how to use effective communication skills – verbal and non-verbal- and creativity techniques and how to apply them so as to assist parties break impasses and overcome barriers in order to be able to address conflicts peacefully.

Applying Mediation

Week 2: Monday

This is a highly experiential and «hands on» course. Students will participate in simulations and engage in different roles, those of the parties and of mediators. As this is a skills practice course, students will be required to apply their negotiation and mediation skills in a variety of cases involving school conflicts, community conflicts, workplace conflicts as well as international conflicts. They will also explore how dispute resolution strategies can be used for organizational leadership and what could a leader learn from a mediator. Special focus will be placed on the use of mediation in schools (peer mediation) as a method to reduce conflict and to improve overall school climate.

Mediating for Peace: Project / Simulation: Privilege

Week 2: Wednesday

Privileges are the special rights, advantages, immunities or benefits enjoyed through association and membership with an identity group. During this simulation of a community, students will experience the level of privilege and opportunity to thrive in society that is afforded to persons of a different race, culture, gender, and socioeconomic status. The aim is to identify how stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination impact one’s ability to access equal opportunities and flourish in the world.

The Work of Alfred Nobel and the Peace Prize

Week 2: Wednesday

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish engineer and inventor who developed dynamite, and more than 360 scientific patents. He devoted his wealth to develop the Nobel Prize and honor the highest achievements of men and women who work responsibly to contribute to the advancement of mankind. Students will identify what elements in our world can unleash the potential of youth to reach their highest achievements on a personal and societal level.

The Work of Nobel Peace Laureates: Jody Williams (USA) and Desmond Tutu (South Africa)

Week 2: Friday

Jody Williams won the Peace Prize in 1997 for her work with the U.N. to ban landmines. Since then she has been advocating for inclusion, protection of women and children from war crimes and against discrimination of disabled and marginalized people. Students will understand the power of bystanderism to sustain injustice and exclusion, while becoming an ally to those discriminated against can build inclusive communities and equity. Desmond Tutu won the Peace Prize in 1984 for contributing to the end of Apartheid in South Africa. He has dedicated his life to advocating for equal rights and against racial, cultural and gender discrimination. Students will explore the concepts of Identity and Difference, and understand how privilege can lead to oppression and how non-violent means of advocacy can bring about peace and change.

The Work of Nobel Peace Laureates Dalai Lama (Dharmsala) and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala)

Week 2: Friday

Dalai Lama won the Peace Prize in 1989 for his work to resolve the Tibetan conflict. His life- long advocacy has been for compassion of all peoples and against religious discrimination, displacement and environmental responsibility. Students will examine the power of compassion to nurture the human spirit and protect the environment by listening with our hearts. Rigoberta Menchu Tum won the Peace Prize in 1992 for protecting the rights of the Mayan people oppressed by the military regime and contributed to the end of a 36-year civil war bringing justice to her indigenous people. Students will learn how they can rebuild community and cohesion when it has been divided.                 

Mediation, STEM, and Social Change: The Work of Nobel Peace Laureate Sir Joseph Rotblat (UK)

Week 3: Wednesday

Sir Joseph Rotblat won the Peace Prize in 1995 for advocating for human safety and security in the use of scientific developments, and against the reckless use of weapons of mass destruction, after working on the atomic bomb with Einstein and Russell Bertrand.  Students will explore right vs. wrong ethical dilemmas in STEM research, and the responsibility that scientists have to preserve human life in the pursuit of progress. Students will participate in a conference call with his Research Assistant, Sally Milne.

Theater Acting

Week 3: Thursday

Students from all groups will work together for the Final Performance of the Pierce Leadership Academy that will be presented on the last day of the summer program.

Feedback: Final Reports

Week 3: Friday

Each student is invited to write an individual report about their interaction with the rest of the students, as well as about their experience of the Academy as whole. The reports are going to be handed in to the program’s coordinators and will be taken into account by the instructors’ reports, which will be sent to each student via email, after the program has ended.

Final Performance – Ethical Dilemmas: An artistic touch – Certificates

Week 3: Friday