Centre of Expertise Global Governance

Trust MEdiators: Developing a student-driven mediation lab to learn and practice how to be trustworthy mediators

Most disputes are not settled in courts, they are settled by informal means such as mediation. Recently, civil law countries—including the Netherlands—have begun encouraging mediation due to its time and cost-effective features. This has led to the proliferation of courses on mediation.
The problem that this project addresses is that most mediation courses in the Netherlands, including THUAS’, are designed along the formal, legal parameters of mediation. But mediation goes far beyond formal law. Learning from mediation practices throughout human history, we see that mediation requires high levels of trust in mediators in addition to their legal expertise. Educators currently neglect those historical, societal accounts of mediation.

What is needed is a focus on a unique set of skills and virtues that helps future mediators to build trust vis-à-vis parties. These behavioural and psychological aspects of mediation include cognitive empathy, honesty, interpersonal communication skills, and intercultural sensitivity.

Trust MEdiators will develop a training model in soft mediation skills through a mediation lab. This lab differs from role play, simulations, and mediation clinics through which mediation is currently taught—in that it is primarily student-driven, shifting the experiential focus from experienced mediators to students. 

The added value of the proposed lab is that it allows students to proactively replicate all three phases of professional mediation in their own educational environment. Consequently, students develop as humans, professionals, and researchers and they establish sound connections with the labor market.

The project will be developed by a team including Barbara, Marike Hehemann (co-applicant), and students. If people are interested in learning more, please contact Barbara at b.a.warwas@hhs.nl.