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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Empowering Our Community Through Mediation

Community Collaboration

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The Straus Institute has a longstanding history of collaborating with local organizations and global entities to devise creative solutions to complex problems, educate individuals and groups on dispute resolution principles, and promote peace and justice by facilitating meaningful conversations. We invite you to read more below about our various collaborative efforts and community-based partners.

Shaping the Dialogue on Policing

In Summer 2020, our country witnessed a movement for racial justice which led to a national conversation on the use of force and related police policies and procedures. At the Straus Institute, we believe that a critical need for intervention exists, one that allows community members to feel safe and provides police with renewed strategies, information, and support on issues of racial inequity and bias. 

JAMS Foundation Awards $450,000 to the Straus Institute

In July 2021, the Straus Institute was awarded a grant of $450,000 by the JAMS Foundation in support of its planned two-year training and engagement program to address the relationship between the Los Angeles community and law enforcement. 

The program will use dispute resolution techniques to advance understanding and collaboration between the two constituencies, with the goal of restoring relationships and inspiring unity across the city. The program aims to transform the culture of conflict in Los Angeles by honoring the distinct experiences of community members and law enforcement officers, and rebuilding trust through training and shared-experience interventions.

"We see this initiative as a pivotal opportunity to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and Los Angeles community members. We are grateful to have the support of the JAMS Foundation as we look to provide our community with tools to resolve conflict, share experiences and encourage empathy for one another," said Professor Sukhsimranjit Singh, Judge Danny Weinstein Managing Director for the Straus Institute.

A pillar of the program will be shifting the dialogue within each group away from negative perceptions of the other by cultivating understanding, identifying shared interests and facilitating positive engagement that may foster trust. Accordingly, the program will provide community members and police officers with unique conflict resolution skills so that interactions between the groups may begin from a foundation of respect.

"We are proud to support the efforts that the Straus Institute is undertaking in working to resolve long-standing conflicts between law enforcement and community members in Los Angeles," said David Brandon, JAMS Foundation managing director. "We think the program provides an innovative approach that leverages ADR principles to navigate the nuances of Los Angeles' complex history with law enforcement, and we are optimistic that it will prove impactful in rebuilding trust and mitigating conflict."

To date, the Straus Institute has trained over 900 police personnel on workplace conflict resolution. 

LAPD Training 

On January 29-30, 2020, the Straus Institute trained a cohort of 50 Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) personnel, including officers and civilian staff, in workplace conflict resolution skills and practices. Read More

Advancing Conflict Resolution in Special Education

In December 2021, the Straus Institute has partnered with Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Administrators of California to offer training on ADR practices for special education professionals across the state of California. In this innovative collaboration, the Institute will bring its world-class training and deep knowledge of conflict resolution process and mediation techniques to this group of professionals to support them in managing and preventing disputes in special education. The Institute's faculty with design and implement trainings geared towards participants in a variety of roles and serving diverse stakeholders in the state. 

Professor Sukhsimranjit Singh, who serves as the Judge Danny Weinstein Managing Director of Straus Institute, added, "We are honored to collaborate with the SELPA Administrators of California and share our expertise in conflict resolution with education professionals across our state. During a time when these professionals have faced unprecedented challenges, it is our privilege to equip them with the skills and knowledge that can enhance their day-to-day efforts."

"The SELPA Administrators of California are excited to partner with the Straus Institute in providing leadership in special education dispute prevention and resolution," said Patty Methany, Ed.D., Chair-Elect and ADR Committee Chair of the SELPA Administrators of California. "SELPA administrators have long been leaders in bringing the practices of alternative dispute resolution to resolving conflicts in special education. This partnership will enable educators to learn from internationally-renowned experts in conflict resolution so that they can positively impact students with disabilities and their families during these challenging times,"

The interactive trainings will begin on December 6, 2021, and will continue through 2022. Participants will be trained in the foundations of the mediation process, unique negotiation styles, and facilitation of problem-solving around education-related disputes, among other topics.

Providing Mediation Services for COVID-Related Community Disputes

Since Fall 2020, COVID-related rent moratoriums implemented by Los Angeles County are anticipated to come to an end, and this will likely lead to some disputes between residential and commercial tenants and landlords.

In an innovative partnership with the City of Santa Monica, the Straus Institute will educate local individuals and businesses on the mediation process and offer to mediate disputes for residential and commercial tenants and landlords. Our students, through the Mediation Clinic or a supervised externship, as well as our alumni and faculty will serve as mediators to resolve these conflicts and serve our community. We invite you to read more about this creative collaboration.

Reimagining Peace through the Lens of Civil Rights

In spring 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Pepperdine Caruso distinguished alumna Capri Maddox to lead the city's new Department of Civil and Human Rights. We are working closely with Ms. Maddox and her team to explore how mediation and dispute resolution strategies may help our city advance peace and justice.

More about Capri Maddox (JD '01) and LA's Department of Civil and Human Rights