A welcome message

By Kelly BreckunitchNewton Kansan@KansanBreck

December 31, 2016

Where there are people, there is conflict.

That is the viewpoint of Sharon Kniss, who works as the director of education and training for the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, also known as KIPCOR.

KIPCOR offers classes and training to college students and professionals who are interested in learning how to communicate and find solutions between parties who are at odds.

"We do custom trainings and workshops," Kniss said. "We offer training in areas of mediation, conflict resolution, dealing with difficult challenges and having difficult conversations."

KIPCOR will be offering the Practical Skills for Managing Interpersonal Conflict class from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Jan. 3 to 7. The foundational course teaches students, teachers, social workers, managers, counselors and church leaders ways of solving interpersonal problems.

Not only does the class challenge those who are mediators to look at their own personal conflict style, it explores how cultural differences and power imbalances affect conflicts.

"Conflict is as diverse as the humans participating in it," Kniss noted. "How do we get beyond 'I'm right, you're wrong?'"

Sessions will be taught by Kniss, who worked as a lead trainer and intervention specialist with Bridge Builders, a national mediation organization in the U.K., and taught at Goshen College in Indiana. KIPCOR director Gary Flory, an attorney who is approved as a mediator and mediation trainer by the Kansas Supreme Court in the areas of core, civil, and domestic mediation, and Dan Wassink, who is a Kansas Supreme Court-approved mediator who manages KIPCOR's Community Mediation Center, will also instruct class participants.

Communication and negotiation skills, mediation simulations and mediation law and ethics will be covered in the class, which will take place at KIPCOR's Kaufman House Training Facility, 2515 College Avenue in North Newton. The tuition fee of $495 covers the text, other materials, and refreshments.

Acknowledging those interested in the class may need more time to prepare, Kniss noted the Practical Skills for Managing Interpersonal Conflict class will be offered again in June.

For the January class, individuals from south central Kansas and even some places outside the state will be participating.

"Some people come and take it because they're interested in becoming a mediator," Kniss said. "Other people take it as an introductory course to learn mediation skills."

The course is required for Bethel College students seeking to minor in Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies who are interested in advancing the principles of restorative justice, a process in which offenders are rehabilitated through reconciliation with their victims.

"(Restorative justice) has really taken off in schools around the U.S.," Kniss said.

KIPCOR is dedicated to resolving human conflict around the globe by provide facilitation, mediation, conciliation, and intervention services for individuals, businesses, organizations and churches.

"KIPCOR has been around since the mid-1980s. It is one of the oldest peace institutes in the U.S.," Kniss said. "In some ways, mediation is our flagship service... We really see ourselves as being a resource for the community and communities that people are a part of."

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status, or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.

Education and Training Community Mediation Center Great Plains Consensus Council Congregational Health