The logic of mediation is that the conflict parties decide on the content, and the mediator helps the parties by structuring the process. To do this, mediators need to know the issues as they present themselves to actors in conflict contexts (module one: context), the methods and skills of how to work with actors (module two: methods) and the theoretical and practical options to deal with these issues (module three: content). On this basis, mediators learn how the process needs to be designed depending on the content it seeks to address (module four: process design). Internalising the skills and knowledge acquired in the first four modules, advanced mediation methods and skills are learnt (module five: advanced methods) and practiced in an in-depth simulation (module six: processes). The programme is organised in three activity lines:
- Active module participation including one written exam at the end of each module
- Self-study as preparation for the modules
- Two written papers: a multidisciplinary literature and a practice-oriented paper.
Mediation in Context - Conflict Analysis and Resolution
This module sets the scene for the entire course, clarifying the scope and outlying the fundamentals of what mediators need to know and which methods they need to have at their disposal to mediate in violent, political conflicts. The module focuses heavily on conflict analysis, also focusing on the gender dimension. A key principle of mediation is that the design of a mediation process is determined by the specific nature of the conflict context. Thus conflict analysis forms the departure point for professional peace mediation. Participants also gain a deep understanding of where mediation stands within the context of other approaches for resolving conflict, and how these various approaches are shaped by the normative and legal context in which they are used. Furthermore, basic mediation skills are introduced, which are deepened conceptually and practically throughout the entire course.
Mediation Methods – Negotiation/Mediation Theory and Skills
The module introduces various theoretical and practical methods of negotiation and mediation. Based on this overview, the course highlights what is similar and what is unique about negotiation and mediation in peace processes. A special focus is placed on the formulation and implications of different mediator roles and mandates. Taking up the skills introduced in module one, it deepens and expands on these, focusing on the interpersonal skills that provide the basis for the advanced mediation methods and skills taught in module five. The module also explores the concepts of success/failure in mediation and how this can be assessed.
Mediation Content - Substance of Peace Processes and Peace Agreements
Mediators learn about the content of peace negotiations and the resulting peace agreements in this module, focusing on the different options and solutions available to actors to address the conflict issues they face. The goal is not to eliminate the issues that are tearing a society apart, but rather to find mechanisms to deal with differences in a non-violent manner. Mediators need a clear understanding of what expert advisors can provide and sufficient knowledge of the various disciplinary topics to link them up with each other and to the issues that tend to arise in the process. At the same time, mediators should not provide solutions and act as topical experts. This module seeks to bring more classical and theoretical approaches of dealing with mediation content up to date by looking at contemporary cases and how content is managed and interlinked. Participants will also present their first written paper (5 ECTS) in this module.
Mediation Process Design – Models, Theory and Practice
Mediators help the parties reach a peace agreement by designing and structuring the process. A process has a start, various identifiable steps, and an end. There are different techniques of shaping these steps, as regards setting the agenda and sequencing content, the format of bringing parties together and various other aspects bound to the “how” of negotiation (e.g. media, funding, venue). This module covers the basic elements of process design and how to they differ dependent on where and how they are used. It also examines how mediators establish the objectives to be obtained in a process and how they deal with participation and inclusivity in process design. A primary focus of process design is to reflect in theory and practice on how to sequence the content to be worked on with the actors. Mediation processes are extremely complex, thus attention needs to also be paid to the organisation and respective roles in a mediation process. The module then explores the implications of the challenges facing the implementation of peace agreements for mediators.
Advanced Mediation Methods – Advanced Skills, Methods and Organisation
The fifth module focuses on the skills of how to communicate and work with parties when applying the knowledge of the first four modules. While skills have been taught throughout the course, here the focus is on the specific nature of mediation skills in the mediation of violent, political conflicts. The team dimension of how mediators work is much more important in this module than in modules one and two. Based on interpersonal skills learnt and internalised so far, the team dimension of these skills is introduced here, as mediators must work in teams to be effective. An overarching topic is the degree to which mediators hold responsibility for their actions and how they cope with this. The emotional stability of mediators for dealing with aggression and frustration will be addressed.
Mediation Processes – Simulation and Practice
This module seeks to integrate all the above knowledge, skills and techniques in a multi-day mediation simulation, based on a real-life mediation case. The module focuses on how to link theory and practice, how to communicate this to actors in conflict and how the content of the programme can be transferred into the professional environment of the participants. On a more strategic/political level, this final module allows participants to introduce, discuss – and maybe influence – the future path of the field in the various countries represented and analysed. Participants will also present their practice-oriented written paper (5 ECTS) in this module.