Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

News: From Conflict to Cooperation

Conflict Resolution was the topic of the third annual Community Forum at Santa Clara University, co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the University's Conflict Partnership Project.

Titled "From Conflict to Cooperation: Building Community From Shared Needs," the forum, held in March, featured a demonstration of conflict-resolution partnership at work and a panel discussion. "Rather than focusing on differences, this approach looks at what needs people share and how they can begin to cooperate," said Associate Center Director Claire Andre.

Following up on the conference were several workshops with the University's Conflict Partnership Project, initiated last year by three political science majors with the assistance of English Department Chair Diane Dreher. Involving students, faculty, and staff in exploring new ways of resolving conflict, the project is supported in part by Leaders for a Just World, which is funded by the James Irvine Foundation.

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics also held an Ethics at Noon session April 12 with Dudley Weeks, professor emeritus at American University School of International Service and author of The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992).

The Community Forums "provide a setting where staff, faculty, and administrators at SCU can come together to discuss issues of concern to the University community and take action to strengthen and enrich our community," Andre said.

For example, the first Forum, which looked at the needs of low-wage workers at Santa Clara, led to the creation of Action Community Teams (ACTs), small groups that work to "help the University incorporate more fully the principles of social justice within its institutional policies and practices," according to Paula Popma.

Popma, assistant University librarian and current ACT coordinator, summarized some of the ACT teams' accomplishments over the last three years, including

  • the creation of a fund from which workers can borrow in an emergency

  • improved communication on the University's sick leave pool, which allows employees with illnesses that exhaust their sick leave to use time accrued by others

  • work on a community source book.

Popma pointed to the source book as the most significant ACT project of the 1995-96 school year. Addressed to low-wage earners, the book will list "various services available to help them stretch their resources," Popma said.