A Journey and Finale

A dissertation.  Those who are writing one typically go through various stages. Love it. Hate it. Rewrite it. Edit it. Despite the late nights and revisions, the final product is rewarding. The writer has reached the mountaintop. While I am not there yet, my thesis has taken some surprising turns.

When I first came to Maynooth, I was determined to write a dissertation on education policy in Ireland. Talking with a school center director, parents, a principal, and some Department of Education and Skills members, I began formulating a thesis topic. A few questions that were evident: how were schools recovering from the austerity measures? Were parents actively engaged in primary schools? How did principals view the support of Department of Education and Skills aid during the recession? These questions need answers and ultimately, would have hopefully provided some ideas for policy makers and many stakeholders.

However, my research changed.

In early January, after browsing through the literature on conflict resolution in Ireland, there was little to no research on online dispute resolution. A fairly new field, the integration of information technology and resolving conflicts has seen limited research and application in North America. The European Union, this year, is starting to require e-commerce regulations to its member states. Wondering how this would impact Ireland and what practitioners generally thought of online dispute resolution, I wanted to learn more. Talking with others in the field and my adviser, I opted for this route.

Sending an online survey to over 800 practitioners of dispute resolution in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the response rate was exceedingly good: over 100 people participated.  Questions ranged from if they had ever used the technology for resolving conflicts to if there was any value in using it. As one of the first studies conducted on online dispute resolution in Ireland, the results are promising. Yet the emails of people writing back asking to learn more and wanting to see the results was most encouraging. A genuine interest of understanding online dispute resolution came from practitioners all across the Island.

So, my research came to life.

A few months ago, I was approached by the Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention to host an event on online dispute resolution in late June of this year. Held right on Merrion Square, the first seminar dedicated to online dispute resolution in Ireland will take place with experts speaking from the United States and Ireland. Daniel Rainey and Dr. Leah Wing from the United States will present along with Brian Hutchinson and Dr. Deirdre Curran from Ireland.

For me, this event symbolizes what this Mitchell year has been about: bringing America and Ireland together for the better.

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