Interdisciplinary Collaboration and the Beauty of Surprise: A Symposium Introduction

7 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019

See all articles by Robert Ackerman

Robert Ackerman

Wayne State University Law School

Date Written: 2003


This symposium was borne out of hope and idealism in the face of disappointment. Chris Honeyman, Nancy Welsh, and Bob Ackerman, all experienced practitioners, teachers, and scholars in the field of dispute resolution, had observed an unsettling phenomenon: a young profession that had started with "alternative" (perhaps even revolutionary) aspirations-respect for party self-determination, encouragement of new understandings and creative solutions, solicitation of different visions of public and private justice-had become the victim of its own success, gradually slipping into "routinization" and drifting away from the exciting "good work" and practices embodying those early aspirations. Mediators now were more likely to be intent on marketing to attorneys and getting agreements than on fostering self-determination; courts that had voiced concern over the quality of dispute resolution had become preoccupied with clearing dockets; academicians once concerned with standards were answering the siren call to provide three-hour mediation "training" programs. A field that had promised a different, more creative way of doing things was succumbing to the pressures of the market, to professionals and consumers accustomed to the old dispute resolution paradigm, to the felt need just to get it done rather than get it done "right." The field of "alternative" dispute resolution, and our beloved process of mediation in particular, had begun to capitulate to the routine.

Suggested Citation

Ackerman, Robert, Interdisciplinary Collaboration and the Beauty of Surprise: A Symposium Introduction (2003). Penn State Law Review, Vol. 108, No. 1, 2003, Available at SSRN:

Robert Ackerman (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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