Brenau Instructors Part of International Mediation Program in Krakow, Poland
Two representatives from Brenau University take their expertise in mediation, law and conflict resolution across the globe for the inaugural Mediation Certification Programme Wednesday, Dec. 7, to Sunday, Dec. 11, in Krakow, Poland.
Ken Frank, director of Brenau’s Conflict Resolution & Legal Studies program, and his wife Mary Lou Frank, adjunct instructor in Brenau’s psychology department, have trained undergraduate and law students in mediation techniques both in the United States and abroad. Ken Frank is the International Academy of Dispute Resolution’s U.S. vice president for education. The academy has partnered with Jagiellonian University in Krakow to offer the program.
The idea to bring a mediation training program to Poland originated with a couple Polish law students who first met the Franks at an international mediation tournament in Chicago years ago. They met again last May at an international tournament in Greece, where the Franks trained the tournament judges and participants.
“They’ve now graduated law school and become attorneys in Poland,” Ken Frank said. “They have come to realize there isn’t a very well-established mediation training program in their country.”
Both Ken and Mary Lou Frank wrote letters to the Polish government about creating the program. INADR then teamed with Jagiellonian University, which has one of the finest law faculties in Central Europe. The program will provide mediation training and certification to more than 30 law students in Poland. The Franks are both Georgia state-certified mediators, also known as “approved neutrals.” They will be two of the trainers for the Polish program.
“We’re offering 40 hours of training,” Ken Frank said. “Several of us are functioning as trainers. One of our Greek colleagues is meeting us there too, plus another from the United States and one from the United Kingdom. We will all merge our efforts and do this training, enabling us to break participants up into small groups. That’s where they are able to learn the most.”
Ken Frank said Brenau started participating in mediation in 2000. The university that year participated in its first undergraduate mediation tournament. Every year since, he “has been very blessed” to take a team to the national – and now international – mediation tournament, he said. Brenau hosts its own invitational tournament annually and has hosted the international tournament twice, in 2012 and 2014.
Mediation tournaments are broken into rounds, and each round includes six student participants. Two act as co-mediators, while the other four form two advocate-client pairs. All six sit together at a table, and the co-mediators help the two pairs work through a given case for a panel of judges made up of local attorneys, mediators, judges and more. Ken Frank said the advocate-client pairs and the co-mediator pairs are typically formed with students from separate schools, creating a spirit of collaboration throughout the tournament.
“That’s one of the really cool things about this competition,” he said. “It’s unlike mock trial, where you sort of huddle to yourself. Mediation forces you to work together with students from other schools.”
Although Ken and Mary Lou Frank were trainers at the 2016 INADR International Mediation Tournament in Greece, they hope to return in 2017 with a team of Brenau University students. The university is currently fundraising to send students to the international tournament in Greece.
“It was our first time in Greece, and we were touched by the hospitality of the Greek people,” he said. “The students there just loved the training, and the growth between their first round and the last was unbelievable. This would be the first time our students have traveled internationally for a mediation tournament, and it would be a phenomenal, invaluable experience for them.”