The Community Relations Service (CRS) serves as “America’s Peacemaker” for the U.S. Department of Justice, helping local communities address conflicts and tensions. CRS helps communities develop strategies to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. By providing mediation, facilitation, training, and consulting services, CRS helps communities enhance their ability to independently prevent and resolve future conflicts.
As the Community Relations Service celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, CRS director Grande Lum ’91 and Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) Director Robert Bordone’97 connected to discuss how HNMCP might aid the CRS in thinking through the conflict resolution needs of the nation over the next 50 years.
“It was a great honor for HNMCP to work with the CRS during this past fall. The work that CRS does is critically important for our country, especially during this period of heightened racial tension. I am particularly proud to have a collaboration with Director Lum, an alumnus not only of the Law School but also of the Harvard Negotiation Project in the early 1990s. We hope to partner with CRS in the future on its important mission related to community-problem solving and violence prevention.”
Jennifer John ’15, Sam Koplewicz ’16, and Caroline Sacerdote ’15, spent the Fall 2014 semester first interviewing stakeholders, including CRS employees and community groups, law enforcement, government officials, advocacy organizations, and educators. The team then developed a suite of recommendations. Through this project—and at a pivotal and fraught time in the nation’s history—John, Koplewicz and Sacerdote not only considered important issues related to identity and bias, but also developed concrete recommendations on how to best advance positive community relations in the years to come.
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