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Conflict Resolution Hosts NY Student Group

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Conflict Resolution Institute

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By: Emily Krizmanich

In early March, the Conflict Resolution Institute hosted a group of sixth-grade students from Rochester, New York. As part of a school project, students and teachers visited Colorado to learn more about and engage with conflict resolution and restorative practices in our school and through different centers. The visits that took place on DU's campus involved two days with the Institute, a visit to the Rick's School (PreK-8) which shares DU's campus, and a discussion with the Office of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence. To begin the visit, CRI staff hosted two lecturettes that illustrated the meaning behind conflict resolution and restorative practices. First, Dr. Pearson d'Estree introduced the concept of conflict resolution and the different styles exhibited in practice, building on the story of disputing over an orange technique to illustrate how all the practices work. After this, Kristen Noble, a practitioner of restorative practices, talked with the students about restorative practices in life and in schools. Throughout the lecturettes, the students and teachers engaged actively as participants and exchanged thought-provoking ideas, stories, and concepts.

As part of an experiential learning (EL) school, each student came prepared with questions and thoughtfulness to add to the discussions. The visits to the Rick's School and Office of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence were intended to be examples for successful conflict resolution and restorative justice programs within the context of different school environments. At the Rick's School, students and faculty shared their ideas about restorative practices and how it has been integrated into their system to provide a better environment for all. The students from New York were able to learn from their counterparts here in Denver, which turned out to be a huge hit on all sides.

Participants from DU's Office of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence were happy to share the office's mission to bring inclusivity and better practices to student conduct meetings and life on DU's campus. Their discussion was centered around the integration of conflict resolution and restorative practices in student conduct hearings and general relations between students, faculty, and staff. Sharing and understanding these practices will help with further education about conflict resolution and how it can help in everyday lives.

The final activity between the Conflict Resolution Institute and visiting students was a panel discussion about conflict resolution in local area schools. Panelists discussed how conflict resolution and restorative practices are used in local programs. Two practitioners from the University of Colorado Boulder discussed their roles within the CU system and with students in terms of conflict resolution and restorative practices in matters of conduct. An administrator from a local high school also shared her experiences integrating restorative practices into the disciplinary system.

The whole week proved to be exciting, educational, and informative for all parties involved. The Conflict Resolution Institute faculty, staff, and students loved the experience and ability to share all we have learned with another school that hopes to implement conflict resolution and restorative practices into their own school.