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Mediator Takes Third in National Competition

Peace and Conflict Studies Master’s Student to Bring Skills Home

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Ikechukwu Ikerionwu, Peace and Conflict Studies MA ’14, center, practices mediation skills with Gordon Halm ’13, left, and Salvatore Schiano ’15. Ikerionwu earned third place in a mediation competition. 

By Julia Gavin & Seth Izen

Ikechukwu “Ike” Ikerionwu wants to help his home country, Nigeria, recover from violence and its devastating effects. He enrolled in the Peace and Conflict Studies master’s program to learn skills helpful in his goal, such as mediation. The program is working for him, as seen in his impressive showing at a recent mediation competition.

Ikerionwu placed third in the 2013 Cyberweek eMediation Competition hosted by the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at Cornell University. The competition, with 80 entrants from 17 universities, used an online platform and model workplace dispute cases to test the students’ skills. 

“The competition was an avenue to put what we learned in class into practice,” says Ikerionwu. “The University’s mediation course has all it takes to produce experts in the alternative dispute resolution field and I have come to realize that we are one of the best, judging from my experience in the competition.”

Ikerionwu learned to mediate effectively through the course Mediation: Theory and Practice. The course trains undergraduate and graduate students based on guidelines set by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for court mediators. The course combines academic theory, experiential role-plays, skill-building and opportunities to observe actual mediations to give students a comprehensive understanding of theory and practice. 

Through a partnership with Middlesex Law Center, experienced mediators support the class by serving as coaches for the mediation role-plays. After the course, students can apply to become court mediators among other positions. Two students from the summer mediation course are now volunteering as mediators in the Lowell District Court with Middlesex Law Center.

“I am so proud of Ike for representing the University at this national competition and for earning third place,” says Seth Izen, Ikerionwu’s instructor, who is assistant director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture. “His success validates the important work we are doing in preparing students to resolve conflicts on the local, national and international level.”