Baker News March 11, 2019

Baker Roundup – January & February 2019

by Baker Center


The Baker Center welcomed the start of the Spring 2019 semester by organizing and co-sponsoring programming aimed at diverse student audiences, including a new mediation training pilot, an undergraduate student dinner, two graduate-level competitions that challenged students to come up with innovative policy solutions, and more.

A new generation of mediators

In early January, in partnership with the Northern Virginia Mediation Service (NVMS), we piloted a new mediation training program graduate students. The program  includes an interactive classroom component and practical court-based and/or community mediation experience. Students participants also had the opportunity to complete requirements for mediation certification in the Virginia court system.

Twelve graduate students from a range of schools and programs including McCourt, SFS, and the Law Center, took part in the first training iteration of this three-part program. Students developed skills, primarily focused on managing emotions, active listening, helping parties draft agreements, and mediator ethics, necessary to serve as a neutral mediator in collaborative dispute resolution.

The first cohort had constructive feedback to share about the program. One MPP student reflected that “the simulations and hands-on learning forced us out of our comfort zones allowing us to develop skills through the actual process.”

Discussing careers in negotiation and conflict resolution

On January 23, alongside the Walsh School of Foreign Service and the McCourt School, we co-hosted a panel discussion and networking reception focusing on careers in conflict resolution. DC-based dispute resolution professionals shared advice and networked with students. Collectively, the featured guests had experience working across numerous sectors engaged in local and global conflict resolution initiatives. Practitioners who attended have worked at the Northern Virginia Mediation Service, Airbnb, Human Rights Watch, U.S. Department of State, the International Republican Institute, and more.  The panel was hosted by GBNN Director, Rachel Milner Gillers, and moderated by the Vice President of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement and MSFS ’05 graduate, Mickey Bergman.

Cultivating a community of systems leaders

Throughout January and February, Baker Center Graduate Assistant Rachel Leeds led a weekly course on Systems Leadership. Each week, Rachel and her group explored issues to help them better understand their own roles within the systems they sought to influence.

The course looked at systems thinking, how to prepare for change, the importance of empathy, and how to have collaborative learning and design.

A dinner discussion of one man’s journey from rural Appalachia to the halls of Congress

On February 13th, we hosted a Kitchen Table dinner for undergraduate students featuring Don Martin, General Counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. At the dinner, Don touched on his current role with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Don also spoke about his own personal and professional journey from growing up in rural Appalachia to working in Congress.  One student appreciated “Don’s candor regarding his experiences living between different communities in the U.S.

Co-sponsored programs challenging policy students to think outside the box.

Finally, in late February we co-sponsored the first round of the Georgetown Public Policy Challenge and the NASPAA-Batten simulation competition.

The Policy Challenge, an interdisciplinary competition organized by the McCourt School, tasks teams of graduate students with developing innovative policy solutions aimed at addressing an issue impacting the Washington, D.C. region. We hosted a policy design workshop on February 4 before the first round on February 22. Over sixteen teams participated, pitching their solutions to a panel of judges. Five teams advanced to the final round, which will be held on March 22.

Then, on February 23, we partnered with the McCourt School, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia to help bring together over 60 students from several schools across the U.S. to take part in the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. Students tackled policy issues associated with forced migration and refugees by taking part in a participatory simulation and using real-world data. The McCourt School team placed in second at the end of the competition.

Thank you to all of our student participants, guests, and event facilitators! We look forward to welcoming new and returning students for future programming.