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Setting the Standard

Straus Number 1 Seventh Consecutive Year

The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution builds on its 25-year history and continues to top the U.S. News rankings as the number one program for the seventh consecutive year. 

Pepperdine School of Law's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution was recently ranked the number one dispute resolution program by U.S. News and World Report for the seventh consecutive year. The remaining schools in the Top 5 for 2012 are Harvard University, Hamline University, University of Missouri-Columbia, and Ohio State University. This is the tenth time Pepperdine has achieved the number one position in the past 15 years.

The Straus Institute was established in 1986 as the first dispute resolution program in the Southwest. From the beginning, the institute has recruited prominent full-time faculty and practitioners to teach our courses from throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Straus offers two tracks of training: professional training programs and academic programs in dispute resolution including the Certificate, a Master’s (M.D.R.), and an LL.M. In 2004, Straus launched the Undergraduate Certificate in Conflict Management, a joint enterprise between Straus and Pepperdine’s Seaver College.

More than 35 different courses in dispute resolution are offered by Straus including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, labor, entertainment dispute resolution, dispute resolution ethics, cross cultural conflict, psychology of conflict, and other areas. Courses are taught by the ten full time Pepperdine professors, twenty-two local adjuncts, and thirty-five adjuncts and visiting faculty from around the world.

Tom Stipanowich, academic director of the Straus Institute, William H. Webster Chair in Dispute Resolution, and professor of law, explains, "The U.S. News ranking is symbolic of the continuing strength of a program which combines a uniquely broad and deep academic curriculum with first-rate professional skills offerings. The institute is breaking new ground as a leader in the development of mediation worldwide, in the innovative use of media to encourage changes in the culture of conflict management, and in empirical research."

Peter Robinson, managing director of the Straus Institute and associate professor of law, adds, "Straus has become a place where outstanding faculty, accomplished practitioners, and passionate students from around the world meet for serious and sophisticated learning about dispute resolution skills."

Robinson has dedicated more than 21 years to the Straus Institute, teaching advanced negotiation and mediation skills courses in more than 30 states and in Argentina, Canada, England, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, and Rwanda.

Stipanowich joined in 2006, bringing his own long career in dispute resolution. Serving as president and CEO of the New York-based International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution from 2001 to 2006, he helped expand the institutes operations in the EU and China and started a number of other new initiatives here and abroad, and making substantive presentations and training programs at many leading companies and law firms in the U.S. and other countries. He has extensive experience as a commercial and construction arbitrator, mediator, facilitator, and special master, with emphasis on large and complex cases. A neutral with JAMS, he has also helped develop corporate programs for avoiding or resolving disputes.

In his past five years at Pepperdine, Stipanowich has established a 60-member Council of Distinguished Advisors for the Straus Institute, helped acquire a grant to establish a new securities investor clinic, and spearheaded the acquisition of the world’s leading dispute resolution collection for the Pepperdine Law Library. Stipanowich received the American Bar Association’s prestigious D’Alemberte/Raven Award in 2008.

Straus acquired of the world's leading library from the American Arbitration Association, consisting of over 24,000 titles, in 2007. The AAA library includes titles on subjects ranging from international arbitration to consumer disputes and health law to the history and growth of public and private dispute resolution practices in the U.S. and abroad.

In recent years, Straus has launched the PACIS Project in Faith Based Diplomacy. In consultation with governments and religious leaders, the PACIS Project addresses identity-based conflicts that exceed the grasp of traditional diplomacy by combining religion with the practice of international diplomacy through an innovative model of faith-based reconciliation. Working with leaders in policymaking circles, foreign ministries, national security agencies, religious denominational communities, and humanitarian non-governmental organizations, the project has already brought about tangible fruit in the United States, Sudan, Kashmir, and recently in the Arab and Israeli spheres of influence.

Since 1995, Straus has enrolled Fulbright scholars from around the world in addition to Muskie Fellows and Weinstein International Fellows. Current students hail from countries such as Tunisia, Ukraine, Ghana, Italy, Korea, Germany, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

Interim Dean Thomas Bost notes, "The Straus Institute has set a new standard for excellence in the teaching and practice of conflict resolution. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers' is more than a catchphrase at Straus. It is a living reality."

Learn more about The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution