Whether in the wilds of Alaska, or his new home in urban southern California, becoming part of the local community is crucial to Brian Jarrett’s process for serving others, as well as building comprehensive dispute resolution curricula and programs.
Jarrett, professor of negotiation, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding (NCRP) – and the program’s new director – arrived at CSUDH in August 2015 after serving for five years in a similar capacity at the University of Alaska (UOA). There he worked closely with indigenous Alaskan leader Polly Hyslop to generate discourse between villages, the justice system, and the university, and incorporated those real-world techniques into the dispute resolution program he developed from the ground up at UOA.
“I think one of the reasons people at this university thought it would be good for me to come here was because of the work the university does with underserved communities—that I could bring those skills I learned in the communities in Alaska here,” said Jarrett.
A Peacemaker’s Journey
Jarrett was born in Stockton, England, and lived in New Zealand and Australia before moving to Vancouver, Canada. He earned his Juris Doctorate at the University of British Columbia, his Master of Law at the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Hawaii. He worked for a number of years as a lawyer in British Columbia and is also licensed in Washington State.
Practicing law led Jarrett to mediation and arbitration, and the larger field of dispute resolution and the sociological analysis of conflict. In 2007, after earning his Ph.D., Jarrett was hired as an assistant professor by Salisbury University in Maryland, home to a prominent program in dispute resolution on the east coast, before taking the position at the University of Alaska to develop their dispute resolution program.
“All the while I was developing my mediation, dispute resolution and arbitration, fact-finding and investigation skills, and was combining and connecting them to sociology,” Jarrett said of his early years in the field. “That is what I’m writing about now—the sociological and social psychology of dispute resolution and restorative practices and mediation. I have a number of articles about these topics published in research journals for folks who are interested.”
Jarrett’s restorative and dispute resolution work has taken him to a number of “interesting locations.” He recently returned from Whitehorse, the capital of the Canadian territory of Yukon, where he hosted a restorative program workshop for a host of participants, including members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, indigenous persons from First Nation communities, court workers, defense lawyers, prosecutors, corrections officers, legal aid lawyers and staff, and judges. The workshop was designed to help them develop sustainable restorative practices that serve First Nation communities, and to help them better connect with the legal system.
New Directions and Opportunities
Now at CSUDH, Jarrett envisions positioning the university more strongly as a bridge for the diverse local communities it serves through its own restorative practices curricula and improved NCRP program. He looks forward to leading the process by tapping the skills he’s developed professionally in a host of settings.
Jarrett will lead the 5th Annual International Conference on Dispute Resolution at CSUDH
April 13, 2016, from noon to 2:30 p.m., in the Extended Education Center.
CSUDH’s NCRP program is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in dispute-resolution related careers, including: counseling; law enforcement; criminal justice; social work; HR management; business management; law; family therapy; organizational and community development; school management; home land security; and labor relations.
“I decided to come to CSUDH because I believe I can have more connections with a much larger dispute resolution market,” said Jarrett. “I see I have an important role here helping the program develop, grow and connect with the university’s other departments, campus organizations, and the several colleges on campus, as well as with allies, civic leaders, and groups and organizations off campus.”
Jarrett is consulting with faculty and students in the NCRP program to discuss ideas and vision for an updated NCRP program to be more responsive to today’s job market, and the civic and education needs within the communities that CSUDH serves.
“The faculty and the students bring a wealth of experience and knowledge that we can tap as we move forward,” said Jarrett. “I want to work toward a more applied program for NCRP faculty and students at both the master’s and bachelor’s levels, one that is more hands-on, skill-based and better connected to our communities.”
Jarrett and NCRP faculty have already begun connecting with its community partners; for example, they have met with local high schools and junior colleges to gauge their needs in dispute resolution, and to discover others ways the program can work with them.
We would like the NCRP program to be more ‘pragmatic’ with more emphasis on inter-cultural dispute resolution and organizational/community development. – Brian Jarrett
“We would like the NCRP program to be more ‘pragmatic’ with more emphasis on inter-cultural dispute resolution and organizational/community development, which is crucial for a campus as diverse as CSUDH,” he said. “I think this will help build the reputation of the program and the university. We already have a lot of inter-cultural programs going on right now, so we should tap into and support those programs, and by doing this strengthen our own unique capabilities.”
For the past five years, Jarrett has been web-hosting the annual International Conference on Dispute Resolution, which he developed while at UOA.
Each year, the conference features more than 30 universities and organizations at sites across the globe addressing such topics as therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice, mediation, arbitration, indigenous peacemaking, and global peace building. The conference also has a journal associated with it, to which Jarret invites submissions.
“We have leading speakers and then a global town-hall style discussion among communities. My idea was to have conversations at the grass-roots level,” he said. “Intercultural or indigenous conflict within the legal system in North America is a big topic right now. The conference will include important contributors from these communities, as well as prominent speakers on de-radicalization, positive criminology, therapeutic jurisprudence, and restorative practices.
The town hall-style cyber conference continues to grow each year with large audiences at each site. The keynote speakers have included Arun Gandhi, a renowned Indian-American socio-political activist; John W. McDonald, former U.S. ambassador and co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in Washington D.C.; Raf Gangat, former South African ambassador to Pakistan; and other notable contributors.
“We are working on this year’s keynote speaker right now. This guy’s interesting because he will be talking about the de-radicalization of young people, a topic that is extremely relevant and one which our keynote speaker knows about firsthand,” said Jarrett. “We can’t name him just yet because he’s in police witness protection, so we have to be careful in how we do this. We are also making provisions to have him sign on from an undisclosed location. So stay tuned.”