Students from around the world are competing at Brenau University this weekend to see who is the best peacemaker.
The International Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament is underway at Brenau University, with teams from more than 20 schools participating.
The tournament is hosted by the International Academy of Dispute Resolution, and is designed to help students learn how to negotiate.
“We’ve been here since Thursday doing training,” said Meghann Sweeney with the international academy. “We train for two days and then the competition runs for two days. Basically, we’re trying to train these students to be peacemakers, to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner.”
Ken Frank, Brenau humanities department chairman, said this is the 15th year of the tournament and Brenau has been involved since its inception.
Sarah McAndrew and her teammate Lindsay Embrick, both juniors at Brenau, said the tournament is an opportunity to practice what they hope to pursue as a profession.
“We are conflict-resolution and legal studies majors,” Embrick said. “This goes hand-in-hand with what we’ll do for a career when we leave here. So it makes sense to do mediation and do these tournaments to help us for our future.”
The tournament is only the second mediation competition for McAndrew and Embrick. The first was a symposium at Georgia State University in October, where the Brenau team placed first.
Friday’s competition included two rounds, the first a mock mediation between two parties. All teams are given case studies and are told minutes before the round which case they will use.
The first round was “the wandering dog case,” known as Johnson v. Brown. In the case, the Johnson family dog Snowflake ran away from its home in Georgia. The dog ended up in a shelter, was adopted by a family and then moved with the family to California.
Six years later, the dog ran away from its second family. It was picked up by a shelter, which scanned its microchip and returned it to the original family in Georgia. Now, both families want the dog.
Students played the roles of two mediators, a representative of the Johnson family and a representative of the Brown family. Their mediation session is monitored by two judges, who give constructive remarks at the end of each.
“It gives you a lot of experience and insight into what you’ll be doing once you get out of college with your degree,” McAndrew said. “I think it’s very conducive to learning what we’ll do when we get out.”
Sweeney said the tournament is also an opportunity practice advocacy in the mediation world. The host academy has a mission of establishing and encouraging the use of mediation as conflict resolution.
Embrick and McAndrew both said they were proud to be part of the host school for the tournament. They said Brenau provides a singular environment for an international competition.
“Brenau is such a small school, to have people come here and see what we’re about is a great opportunity,” McAndrew said. “Hopefully they like the way we run things pertaining to this competition, but it’s been great so far.”