In this lesson, we’ll learn about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by discussing:
While Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is often used interchangeably with “conflict resolution,” it is more often associated with processes used in lieu of a court process.
Thus all cultures have really had some form of ADR as part of their judicial system.
In the United States, Native American cultures have used something called peacekeeping circles, which are a way of bringing a group together in a circle and allowing each person within that circle to both speak and be heard. Quite often, they'd use something called a talking piece; the person who was speaking would have that talking piece.
ADR has grown a lot within the United States, becoming a very popular way of solving and resolving conflict. Two big reasons for this are:
However, there are other factors behind the growth of ADR. Let’s look at an example from history.
We can see a spike in the growth of ADR processes dating back to the Civil Rights Movement because there were a lot of laws passed protecting individual rights. During this time, there was also a lot less tolerance for discrimination and injustice, and we thus saw a lot more court cases filed. The same can be said for the time periods during which the women's movement and the environmental movement occurred; the more court cases, the more need for ADR processes.
The growth and popularity of ADR have even led to academic programs all the way up to the PhD level in which students focus on alternative dispute resolution techniques.
ADR processes also improve community relationships. We have therefore seen an increase in community mediation, or mediation services provided by community-based organizations (usually not-for-profits).
As we mentioned earlier, mediation services have become popular within court systems because they can relieve the court of certain cases when the court is overwhelmed with the volume of cases it receives.
Here in the Twin Cities area, we have three such organizations: the Conflict Resolution Center in Minneapolis, the Conflict Mediation Services in New Hope, and the Dispute Resolution Center in Saint Paul.
These community-based mediation programs work within the courts, specifically in Hennepin County, where they work within Harassment Court and Housing Court. Within Housing Court, there's even something called “pre-filing,” during which landlords can actually file and set up a mediation to settle a dispute before filing in court.
Some other examples include the following:
Many people prefer divorce mediation rather than going through courts. Once again, this is less costly, and it may be more efficient.
In victim offender reconciliation programs, a victim and an offender are brought together to address the wrong that was done. Community mediation programs have gotten involved with this sort of restorative justice. Within Minneapolis, there is an option for juveniles, as first-time offenders, to go through a mediation with a community-based program. If they successfully complete the program, their records will be expunged (removed from their record).
Additionally, police look at community mediation programs as places to refer local disputes, such as:
In this lesson, you learned that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has grown a lot within the United States as a popular alternative to the courts. You now understand how ADR can be used in communities to improve relationships.
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.
Mediation services provided by community-based organizations (usually not-for-profits).
Alternative Dispute Resolution, a term often used interchangeably with conflict resolution, but more often associated with processes used in lieu of a court process.