WestConn to host West African college students
Twenty students from Ghana to learn about conflict resolution
DANBURY, CONN. — Although the West African country of Ghana has been a democratic society for decades, in some of the small villages access to the judicial system is difficult. Disputes can lead to disharmony at best and violence at worst. A clash over leadership or property can last close to 100 years without a proper channel of conflict resolution.
As part of “Project Reconciliation — Ghana 2008,” college students from Ghana will be staying at Western Connecticut State University for one week at the end of July to learn skills that will enable them to be trained arbitrators in the villages that most need help.
“The Giving to Ghana Foundation, Inc.” (GTGF), a non-profit organization, has committed to addressing the needs of residents in Sunyani and will send 20 students from the Catholic University of Ghana in Sunyani to WestConn. For several days, the students will travel from Danbury to New York City, mostly to attend seminars at St. John’s University School of Law, the New York Judicial Institute and Fordham University School of Law. Then they will spend one day at WestConn with Dr. Averell Manes, a professor of social sciences, who will teach them the non-legal aspects of resolving conflicts.
The law schools will, among other things, look at case studies from Ireland and South Africa, the development of arbitration in the United States and international conflict resolution. Students will participate in mock arbitration and mediation and learn the qualities of a great arbitrator and a great mediator.
At WestConn, Manes will go through a basic overview of conflict management and techniques and non-legal aspects, such as power and relations, third-party intervener styles, and basic skills for third-party interveners, which include non-verbal communication skills, problem solving, listening and information sharing. Manes said much insight and positive change can be gained from conflict and its management.
“Conflict is an inevitable feature of human interaction and the benefits can be substantial,” Manes said. “I hope the students take home a strong belief that people have the right and the ability to resolve their own conflicts. A third party can be essential in facilitating outcomes that are efficient, effective and truly based in the needs of the individuals involved in the conflict.”
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.