August 29, 2013 | Article
The program coordinator’s proudest moment was watching her oldest son get his diploma. Now she’s part of shepherding...
Lydia Nussbaum is taking over as director of the Strasser Mediation Clinic and associate director of the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution, both at the William S. Boyd School of Law. Her upbringing in Quaker schools has led to a lifelong pursuit of conflict resolution, peace building, and reconciliation.
I was born in Texas but grew up outside of Philadelphia. I have many fond memories of hoagies from Wawa and cans of black cherry wishniak (a soda). When I was 12, my family moved to the Washington D.C. area, where I ultimately learned how to drive, and survive, among the maniacs on the Capital Beltway.
I went to Quaker schools until I was 18 and I internalized Quaker teachings of peace building and nonviolence at a young age. My academic interest in dispute resolution really began when I was a history major at Cornell University. I was drawn to the question of how societies respond to atrocity and state-sanctioned violence. I studied how different national communities across the globe balance objectives of justice, vengeance, forgiveness, and remembering in the aftermath of conflict or state terrorism.
I then went to law school with the intention to use my degree to work on international dispute resolution mechanisms like truth and reconciliation commissions. In the process, I began mediating in communities around Baltimore City, and I learned about the importance of cultivating conflict resolution at the individual level.
A lot of people think mediators provide counseling or tell people what they should do. Good mediators listen more than they talk, and they do not presume to know the answers.
Lawyers are trained to narrow issues down to precise points and to develop arguments that make one side of a story more plausible than another. But sometimes this approach to problem-solving and the remedies made available by the law are not well-suited to the real world, where people and their stories are complicated, multi-dimensional, and dynamic.
The Saltman Center's commitment to public service. This commitment runs through each element of its mission. Educating students and the community, serving as a resource for the wider UNLV campus, providing mediation and arbitration services to individuals in and around Las Vegas, and bringing together scholars and practitioners to think through some of the most pressing issues of the day—these are all things that the Saltman Center does and is precisely the kind of work that I want to do.
The cycle of violence and retaliation.
I have hiked to the Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as the Tiger's Nest) in Bhutan.
I love the outdoors and I am crazy about jigsaw puzzles — the more pieces the better. When I need to recharge, I read a good novel.
-Compiled by Vaneh Movsessian, communications specialist with the Boyd Law School
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