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Straus Faculty Members Speak at Statewide ADR Conference for Special Education

On March 16-17, 2023, professors Stephanie Blondell and Sukhsimranjit Singh, along with adjunct professors David Dowling and Aparna Gupta, presented to over 800 special education professionals and parents on conflict resolution skills. The annual event, held at the Riverside Convention Center, was hosted by the Special Education Local Plan Area, or SELPA, Administrators of California. This year’s theme was, “Release the Past and Embrace the Future through ADR.” 

Professor Singh opened the event with a plenary session. His remarks, titled “Redefining Relationships in Special Education: An Opportunity to Uplift and Succeed as Leaders,” centered on hallmarks of leadership at every level within a large organization. Following his session, Professor Singh also led a packed workshop that took participants on a deeper dive into decision-making. 

Professors Blondell, Dowling and Gupta presented two keynotes as a group -- on Thursday and Friday -- centering on the power of questions in conflict resolution. On the first day, they introduced the audience to different types of questions, and demonstrated how certain questions can close opportunities for collaboration and conversation, whereas others can open the door to trust and connection. Their Friday keynote was aimed at giving the audience the opportunity to practice through skills-building exercises on asking non-judgemental, inquiry-based questions. 

Following their remarks, Professor Gupta led the workshop, “Cultural Awareness as a Bridge to Connection.” Professor Dowling led two sessions, “Sleuthing for Interests,” and “Fundamental Negotiation Skills.” Professor Blondell led three sessions which included the following titles: “Scrubbing the Question: Crafting Questions to Create Impact and Break Impasse,” “What is Impartiality, Really?,” and “The Role of the Internal Neutral: Making an Oxymoron, Peaceful.”

The Straus Institute continues to train SELPA professionals through their partnership with the statewide organization. More information on the collaboration may be found at Straus-SELPA Trainings