Reading Assignment:

Deborah Kolb and Associates, When Talk Works

Recognizing that this is a somewhat lengthy book (even for a correspondence course which replaces class time with readings), we are not asking you to read all of it (though you may want to). We are, however, asking you to read the introductory and concluding chapters as well as at least one chapter from each of the book's three parts. Beyond this, we would like you to read four additional chapters selected on the basis of your interests.


Kolb's book provides perhaps the most detailed collection of stories describing the way that mediation is actually practiced by the field's leaders. The book provides an invaluable account of how the theoretical ideas presented in the course are actually applied to real world situations. The book explores the difference between what Kolb calls the myth of mediation (i.e. the way mediation is taught in most college courses and professional training programs) and the reality of mediation (i.e. the way it is actually practiced).

The book is divided into three sections, each describing a different approach to mediation. Part I explores the practice of the "professionals"-established professional mediators working either as private practitioners or government employees. In describing the work of five exemplary individuals, Kolb shows how practitioners apply the field's core techniques in a range of typical settings. Part II, "Builders of the Field," describes the activities of three additional mediators-people who are doing more than practicing existing techniques, they are actively working to develop and improve these techniques. The last part of the book describes the work of individuals who are making an even bolder effort to "extend the reach of mediation" to new arenas and new settings. Also important are Kolb's introductory and concluding chapters which provide real insight regarding the current state of the field and the two principle visions toward which mediators work-the transformative and the pragmatic.

Writing Assignment (To be submitted for evaluation):


Based upon the ideas presented in Talk That Works, you are asked to prepare a 2500 word essay highlighting those ideas presented in earlier units which play an important role in actual practice. You should be specific in describing stories illustrating the implementation of each idea. You should also highlight areas in which practitioners clearly violate one or more of the key ideas outlined above. Again you should plan on a 2500 word essay.

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