Symposium 2014

Harvard Negotiation Law Review

proudly presented the following Symposium on March 1, 2014:

Political Dialogue and Civility in an Age of Polarization


Theme: The current state of political discourse and how negotiation techniques may be able to overcome challenges to civil dialogue. The conference focused on applying ADR principles to overcome the polarization rampant in today’s politics.


Panel 1: Political Discourse, How It Has Changed, and Why It Is the Way It Is

Symposium2This panel discussed ways in which current and historical trends have led to or precipitated polarization and uncivil dialogue. Topics explored by the panelists include how the pressures and influences on politicians have changed over time, how election laws (with an emphasis on redistricting and gerrymandering) has influenced polarization, and how political actors could help shape a new era of civility. Response panelists lent an ADR perspective to the insights and comments of fellow panelists.


Moderator: Nancy Welsh
Panelists: Jim Flug, Peter Ambler, and Tom Bonier
Response Panelists: Nancy Welsh, Bob Bordone, and David Matz






Panel 2: Overcoming Challenges to Civil Dialogue

Symposium3This panel discussed technological, geographical, and ideological challenges and opportunities that affect how we discuss political issues with one another. Each of the panelists had an expertise in a different prism of interpersonal relations and shared stories about how people relate in these different contexts to those that are perceived as the “other.” Response panelists addressed how the skills acquired in an ADR context can help overcome the challenges discussed by fellow panelists.


Moderator: Laura Chasin
Panelists: Francis Kissling, John Allen, and Jonathan Zittrain
Response Panelists: Bob Bordone and Amy Cohen





Panel 3:
What Worked: Practical Strategies for Loosening the Gridlock

Symposium4This panel discussed ways in which panelists have used their alternative dispute resolution knowledge and skill to help political actors bridge partisan divides or find creative solutions to political challenges. From their on-the-ground experience managing political conflict, they touched on many of the themes and questions that had arisen earlier in the day.

Moderator: Heather Kulp
Panelists: Laura Chasin, Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, and Michael Ostrolenk







Keynote Address by Krista Tippett



Krista Tippett, host of the public radio program On Being and steward of The Civil Conversations Project, tied together the day’s discussions by using stories from her vast experience facilitating dialogue that addresses life’s difficult questions.






* If you are experiencing problems with video playback, please make sure you have Quicktime installed.



4 thoughts on “Symposium 2014

  1. Sabuka Doreen says:

    This conference is one of a kind for me and my country given the undergoing political and governance conflicts in organizations.

    However is it open to participants from East Africa????
    My attendance will be an achievent and a learning experience not only for me but will also benefit my community.

  2. Marcie Brimer says:

    The symposium is open to all who would like to attend. No Harvard affiliation is necessary.

  3. David Rosenberg says:

    The symposium was excellent. Thank you!

    Do you know when video of the symposium will be available and the URL from which it will be available?

  4. Marcie Brimer says:

    Hi David, this page has recently been updated with recaps, photos, and videos from the symposium. Thanks for attending, it really was a great event!

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