CDR Conference to Examine Tension Between Partisanship and Centrism

A poll conducted in January 2007 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed that Americans want their representatives to be moderate and to cross party lines — except on issues that are important to them. In that case, they want no compromise. So what do people really want, partisans or centrists? Is the best way to resolve problems through debate or compromise? Should we stand firm or seek middle ground?

The Willamette Center for Dispute Resolution has assembled a distinguished panel of experts to examine the tension between partisanship and centrism in a one-day conference at Willamette University College of Law. “Standing Your Ground or Finding Common Ground,” [PDF] will be held April 6, 2007, at the Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center on the Willamette campus. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m.; the day’s events will end at 4:15 p.m. Oregon Continuing Legal Education credits are pending.

The schedule of events includes multiple discussion panels and several short lectures. The first discussion panel will explore advocacy and settlement in legal disputes, while the second panel will address the issue of partisanship and centrism in politics. The final panel will explore ways to bridge the urban-rural divide in Oregon. Robert Trapp of the International Debate Education Association will give the luncheon presentation, “Debate as an Alternative to Violence in Uganda, Kosovo, the People’s Republic of China and Beyond.” The day’s events will conclude with a lecture on the psychology of partisanship and a presentation in defense of advocacy.

For conference registration information, please call the Center for Dispute Resolution at 503-370-6046 or send an e-mail to Julie Gehring.

Conference Participants

Law Professor Richard Birke directs the Willamette Center for Dispute Resolution and administers the school’s Certificate Program in Dispute Resolution.

Since graduating from law school at Willamette, Patrick Egan has held high-level positions at the Port of Portland and the Oregon governor’s office, most recently as chief of staff. He is now vice president of customer and community affairs for Pacific Power.

A longtime leader in Oregon’s Republican Party, Senator Ted Ferrioli is the Senate Republican leader. Senator Ferrioli is an active and passionate advocate for the rights of rural Oregonians.

A partner in Perkins Coie LLP in Portland, Paul Fortino has been listed in The Best Lawyer’s in America for more than a decade. He is past president of the Oregon Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Oregon Association of Defense Counsel.

Stephan Hamann is a professor of psychology at Emory University and director of the Hamann Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. His most recent research has centered around the effects of political speech on decision making.

One of the nation’s most prominent mediators, Douglass Hamilton is founder of Resolution Counsel LLP, which emphasizes aggressive cooperation in settlements. Hamilton has served as managing partner at two large Portland firms and general counsel at Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Althea Lee Jordan is one of the most sought-after private judges in the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently returned to a teaching career that began 25 years ago. She now teaches mediation and negotiation at Willamette University College of Law.

A native Oregonian,Judge Edward Leavy has been a federal judge since 1984. During that time, he has presided over all aspects of trial and appeal and has become one of Oregon’s most famous mediators, resolving such notable cases as the Wen Ho Lee spy case.

A highly regarded political commentator, William Lunch is the political voice of Oregon Public Broadcasting and a professor of political science at Oregon State University.

Jefferson Smith is founding chair of Oregon Bus Project, a “get out the vote” effort that has drawn national attention and resulted in a greater number of new voters under age 21 than any similar effort in Northwest history. Smith advocates a new political paradigm in America.

One of the youngest and most dynamic city leaders in America, Erik Sten is commissioner of the City of Portland. His goal is to shape Portland into “the preeminent 21st century city.”

Symeon C. Symeonides serves as dean and professor of law at Willamette University College of Law. An expert in international law and conflict of laws, he also has been active in law reform.

Professor of rhetoric/media studies at Willamette University College of Liberal Arts, Robert Trapp directs the school’s chapter of the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), which organizes and promotes debate and debate-related activities in communities throughout the world. IDEA has been to Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia, among other locations. Their next stop is Uganda.