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Creighton’s Werner Institute Launches Cutting-Edge Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Conflict Resolution

One of the nation's fastest growing professional fields is conflict resolution, and Creighton University will be offering a new interdisciplinary graduate program leading to master’s degrees and graduate certificates in negotiation and dispute resolution.

The program, spearheaded by Creighton's Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, the most richly endowed program of its kind in the U.S., is designed to attract students from a variety of disciplines and professions from across the nation and around the world.

“Our goal is to make Creighton and Omaha a major national center for the study and advancement of conflict resolution, a field that is transforming the way businesses, governments, courts and other institutions manage disputes, reduce costs and improve morale,” said Professor Arthur Pearlstein, director of the Institute. Pearlstein expects the program to begin taking applications this month for the first class of graduate students to begin in the fall of this year.

Parties in conflict are increasingly using professional negotiation and dispute resolution to settle their differences and realize gains from collaboration. A number of sources report that dispute resolution will be among the fastest-growing professions in the early decades of this century. Demand for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services has skyrocketed as federal and state/local governments, as well as thousands of companies and nonprofits, are turning to ADR. Lawyers, business managers and institutional administrators are realizing that it may be the best way to save time and money and avoid nasty legal battles that can spoil productive relationships.

Though housed at the law school, the program will include courses from Creighton’s College of Business, Graduate School, College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Health Sciences schools. The Institute expects to enroll students from a variety of backgrounds, including lawyers, business managers, human resources professionals, health care professionals, educational administrators and community leaders.

Unique among university programs in the field, according to Pearlstein, the new graduate program will emphasize opportunities for students to focus on substantive areas of concentration within conflict resolution: organizational/transactional, health care, and international negotiations and conflict resolution.

“We are placing strong emphasis on linking applied studies in the field to specific career opportunities for students,” Pearlstein said.

The organizational concentration reflects what Pearlstein identifies as the “sweeping national trend” among corporations and institutions to develop internal systems for handling disputes within and among organizations. The health care concentration leverages the “enormous resources at Creighton and in Omaha” to help prepare students to meet the fast-growing need for conflict resolution involving clinical environments, patient-provider concerns, bioethics issues, technological advances and public health emergencies. And the international concentration works jointly with Creighton’s prominent international programs to focus on the skyrocketing demand for conflict resolution professionals in times of intense globalization of business and heightened risks in international relations.

Creighton University Law School Dean Patrick Borchers said that the initiative offers an opportunity, “unparalleled in the history of the School,” to create a “nationally prominent graduate program” that cuts across academic and professional disciplines.

The Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution was established at Creighton University in 2005 thanks to a generous gift from the C.L. Werner family. The mission of the Werner Institute is to be a leader in advancing the field of conflict resolution to a higher level with a focus on developing the next generation of practitioners and scholars who are responsive to the real, and often unacknowledged, needs of those in conflict.

For more information about the graduate and master's certificate programs, call (402) 280-3852 or visit http://www.creighton.edu/werner/.

Posted: 2/7/06