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Marc Brenman


Culturally Appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution

Marc Brenman

Description: The dominant form of ADR originated in the US, and incorporates Euro-American values. However, much conflict resolution elsewhere is among groups with different cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic value systems. The mediator struggles to equalize power between the parties and adjust to these values. One way is to use methods based on traditional and indigenous ways. The presenter has worked with Native Americans in the Pacific NW, with peoples in the Middle East, and uses discussion and roleplay to show different types of ADR. They can be used to empower a party who has little, and to bring greater understanding to the dominant culture. Traditional methods are respectful of local belief systems but can contain contradictions to values of Global North mediators, such as human rights and anti-corruption. These values cannot be imposed around the world. This can result in difficult soul-searching by Global North mediators about means-end challenges.  

Level: Intermediate

Delivery: Workshop

Track: Cross-Cutting Topics in Intercultural Relations

Principal, Social Justice Consultancy

Marc Brenman, Executive Director, Washington State Human Rights Commission, 2004-2009. Senior Policy Advisor for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1995- 2004. Previously with Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education, from investigator to Division Director, working on national civil rights policy. Serves on Board of Organizational Development Network, as Co-Chair of Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and on Diversity Standards Task Force, Society for Human Resources Management. On Board of Advisors, The City Project, Los Angeles. Worked on race issues, limited English proficiency, disability, sex discrimination, LGBT rights, culturally appropriate alternative dispute resolution, corporate social responsibility, and international human rights law. Co-author, "The Right to Transportation," on social equity, and "Planning as if People Matter: Governing for Social Equity," from Island Press, with Prof. Tom Sanchez.  Teaches graduate courses on civil rights history, human rights, public policy development, advocacy, and governing for social justice, Evergreen College, Olympia, Washington. Author of many articles, op-eds, and policy and research papers on social equity. Has spoken at many conferences, including the Transportation Research Board, Association for Conflict Resolution, Mediators Beyond Borders, Seattle Race Conference, and at Harvard Law School. Consults, teaches, and writes, and has own firm, Social Justice Consultancy. In 2010, assisted Public Advocates, Inc. in winning the first civil rights case under ARRA, the federal stimulus law, for $70 million. In 2012, won first prize in the Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund essay contest, on what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say to Pres. Obama.