Dispute resolution center director lectures in Moscow

Prof. Richard Birke, who directs Willamette’s Center for Dispute Resolution, lectured in Moscow in early November at the Center for Mediation and Law, one of the most influential mediation organizations in Russia.

Birke talked about how brain scans can teach us why it’s difficult to get people to change their minds and about psychological studies that show how phrasing a question a certain way can persuade people to switch preferences. The material was based on Birke’s two award-winning law review articles on the psychology of settlement and the connection between neuroscience and dispute resolution.

The lectures were part of a 40-hour training Birke offered called, “The Mediator’s Mind: Practical Lessons From Psychology and Neuroscience.” He spent six months preparing.

As for the differences between mediation in the U.S. and Russia, Birke said, “You could write a book. They don’t really have a legal system that resembles ours, so the opportunities to mediate are different.

“What was clear is there’s a growing cadre of people who believe the use of mediation is going to be handling disputes because the rest of the conventional systems are backing up,” he added. “I was surprised how far they have to go.”

The lectures were part of a national conference that featured several speakers. They included judges from the highest courts of Germany, Greece, France and Slovenia who had incorporated mediation into their countries’ judicial systems. Other speakers were prominent mediators and academics from around the world.

After the lecture Birke was invited to do similar presentations in Germany, Greece and the Netherlands.