In November, John asked “How can we help in major social conflicts, if at all?” I was dying to respond with an idea we’ve been working on here at Moritz, but the Divided Community Project wasn’t quite ready.

Today—in the first of a series posts about the project—The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Program on Dispute Resolution is proud to announce the Divided Community Project—initiated to provide a dispute resolution practitioner’s response to recent explosive social conflicts in Ferguson, Baltimore, Sanford and other cities around the country.

Under the quiet leadership of Nancy Rogers, Josh Stulberg, and a number of practitioners and leaders in the field, in the past ten months, the Divided Community Project has 1) reviewed the legal and social science scholarship on divided communities that has been developed in recent decades; 2) met with or interviewed numerous intervenors (mediators), advocates, community leaders, law enforcement leaders, scholars, and representatives of bridging organizations who have been involved in responding to or planning for explosions of civil unrest; and 3) distilled this research and experience into two short documents with principles, guidelines, and suggestions. I’ll have a follow-up post about the Project’s documents in a post later this week.

The Divided Community Project’s steering committee is composed of seasoned dispute resolution practitioners and academics: Nancy RogersJosh StulbergChris CarlsonSusan CarpenterCraig McEwenSarah Rubin, and Andrew Thomas. Grande Lum, former Director of the Community Relations Service in the Justice Department, has made suggestions to the Project and will have a larger role in it after leaving the Justice Department on February 19. Bill Froehlich, Langdon Fellow in the Program on Dispute Resolution at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, has helped shape the project.

I look forward to sharing more about this project as it takes steps to plan in advance of civil unrest and dealing with community division.

Feel free to send your feedback to our Langdon Fellow, Bill Froehlich, at froehlich.28@osu.edu.

Sarah Cole is a professor as well as the director of the Program on Dispute Resolution at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She has focused her research on the legal issues and policy that have arisen as a result of the increased use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). She frequently publishes articles on dispute resolution topics and is a contributor to ADR Prof Blog.