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Solving Problems, Resolving Disputes and Finding Justice

Seminar Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Craig McEwen

Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology, Bowdoin College

Historian Jerold Auerbach argued in 1983 that “where community ends, law begins” and critiqued “misguided enthusiasm for alternative dispute resolution” while remaining skeptical about whether law produces justice. In this seminar, we will affirm and challenge parts of Auerbach’s analysis in the light of contemporary challenges of legal systems and courts, changing notions of community, and innovative forms and uses of conflict resolution. For example, we will examine how one resolves millions of on-line buyer-seller disputes that stretch across national and legal boundaries. We will look at ways that “dispute resolution” techniques have been used to build relationships on individual and communal levels in the aftermath of systemic violence. We will review research about what people understand justice to be. In examining these and other examples and issues, we will reflect on the complex relationships between solving problems, resolving disputes and finding justice.


Craig McEwen is the Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology at Bowdoin College where he has taught since 1975. A graduate of Oberlin College (B.A.) and Harvard (M.A. and Ph.D.), his research and commentary on mediation programs, courts, and lawyer professionalism have appeared in law reviews, social science journals and professional magazines. With Lynn Mather and Richard Maiman, he co-authored Divorce Lawyers at Work:  Varieties of Professionalism in Practice.  In 2011 the third edition of his legal treatise with Nancy Rogers, Mediation:  Law, Policy, Practice, was published with added co-authors Sarah Cole, James Coben and Peter Thompson. He has taught at Morgan State University and Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law. He has chaired Maine’s Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability and has served on Maine’s Board of Overseers of the Bar and its Grievance Commission.

Assigned Reading

Jerold Auerbach, Justice Without Law:  Resolving Disputes without Lawyers (Oxford University Press, 1983).


A reception will be held at 5pm at the UNE Art Gallery


Center for Global Humanities


(207) 221-4335

6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public