What do a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a veteran political reporter for NPR, and a Las Vegas casino legend have in common? Each has been among the dozens of esteemed individuals invited to share their expertise during special events hosted or co-sponsored by the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution.
Since it was founded in 2003 at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, the Saltman Center has presented various lectures and conferences intended to engage legal scholars, professionals, students, and the general public on a broad range of topics associated with alternative dispute resolution.
“Through these events, we have been able to provide information to our students and the public while also generating excitement about the field of conflict resolution,” says Jean Sternlight, the Saltman Center’s Founding Director and a Michael and Sonja Saltman Professor of Law. “These conferences are also designed to inspire conflict-resolution academics to learn from one another, then write articles about the discussed topics that will reach a wider audience beyond Las Vegas.”
Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, headlined one of the Saltman Center’s earliest (and most popular) events back in April 2005 when he packed Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall for a lecture that addressed the state of globalization as it pertained to complex economic and foreign policy issues.
Other guest speakers have included Linda Wertheimer, a senior national correspondent for NPR and the first woman to anchor the network’s political convention and election night coverage, and Jack Binion, son of Las Vegas casino magnate Benny Binion who in 1970 helped launch the World Series of Poker. In November 2011, as part of the Saltman Center’s ongoing “Peace in the Desert” lecture series, Wertheimer presented “Cooling the Partisan Fires,” a talk that addressed the conflicts Americans were feeling between one another and their government. Exactly a year prior, Binion joined other gaming executives and several notable poker pros for a panel discussion titled “How to Play Your Hand: Lessons from Poker for Negotiators.” That event spawned an article that appeared in the Nevada Law Journal.
Additionally, the Saltman Center has hosted lectures related to the role dispute resolution plays in nuclear disarmament and environmental concerns. “For things geared more toward the general public, we try to [focus on] bringing greater peace to the world,” Sternlight says. “We try to pick issues that are or should be of interest to the public, and we try to bring in related experts so the public can learn and hopefully become inspired to work for greater conflict resolution in this troubled world of ours.”
While events such as the “Peace in the Desert” and annual Chris Beecroft lecture series are designed to help legal practitioners, students, and the public gain a better understanding of conflict resolution and its societal importance, some symposia are targeted specifically to academics. For instance, the Saltman Center last year hosted the inaugural West Coast Dispute Resolution Conversation, bringing together nearly two dozen scholars from nine regional institutions for a two-day summit focused on overcoming the challenges associated with the ever-evolving world of conflict resolution.
Similarly, in October, the Saltman Center served as home base for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the Association of American Law Schools’ Works-in-Progress Conference (Event Photos).
“As we continue to pivot away from litigation as the primary method for solving legal disputes—and as we continue to live in a world rife with conflict—it’s critical that the Saltman Center remain at the forefront of the ADR conversation,” Sternlight says. “That’s why we remain committed to regularly welcoming guest speakers and hosting topical events that appeal to and educate both the legal community and our community at-large.”
View information about upcoming events hosted by the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution. To view select webcasts from previous events.