The Peace Institute

Creating Peace … Promoting Understanding & Collaboration … Transforming Conflict

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The mission of The Peace Institute--an initiative of Green River College, Washington, USA--is to build peace and transform conflict whenever possible.


Our primary role as an award-winning college with students from more than 100 countries, is to facilitate understanding, teamwork and collaboration amongst the student body and those who support them. In doing this we therefore believe also that ‘the world meets here’ and that there is no better place to begin the process of creating peace by working together. Our graduates have been taking this message with them for decades and as a result have contributed mightily to their local communities and to peace and prosperity – here and abroad – as a result. This is especially true of our alumni in the leadership and peacebuilding program funded for the last decade by the U.S. Department of State.

Our secondary role is community outreach with a special focus on building peace through education programs and services aimed at helping things go right, the resolution of campus and community disputes, as well as restorative processes and Sustained Dialogue.

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Both of these roles invite us to see that, as the great American Henry Ford said, “Working Together Works”.

When we encounter disputes or serious disagreements, our Conflict Transformation approach is to:

  • Focus on our role in the conflict or dispute – rather than assuming the other party is to blame
  • Be willing to understand underlying causes that resist genuine resolution
  • Consider the negative ways we can sometimes relate to each other
  • Act positively to improve or transform the quality of these interactions
  • Agree on how to sustain this transformation as the key to genuine resolution
  • Understand that ‘Conflict is a Choice’ – and so is Peace
  • Believe that meaningful long-term change results from this approach to conflict

We welcome you to join our group of volunteers in the creation of peace and the resolution of disputes in our communities.

The Leadership Team at The Peace Institute


About Us

The Institute was established under the aegis of Green River College on September 25, 2013.

It is associated with the 30 or more other US colleges with peace programs - with the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC - and organizations such as the National Association for Community Mediation and the National Peace Academy.

Our educational program includes professional development workshops for students, faculty, staff and the general community. The certificates in peace and conflict transformation and in collaborative leadership offer the possibility of advanced credit in award programs for those interested in this option.

In close cooperation with the Dispute Resolution Center of King County, mediation training and services are focused on the creation of peace and the transformation of conflict in our local communities: especially in school districts, colleges and law enforcement departments in the cities of South King County.

In achieving our mission and delivering value to our students and to society at large, we welcome the advice and assistance of community members, city and county administrators and those committed to improving relationships through peacebuilding.

Please click here to view a brief Peace Institute introduction.


"The Culture Change - Resolving Conflict workshops provided helpful frameworks to analyze relationships on all levels, and the clear diagrams and practical worksheets helped me convert knowledge into action." -Dr. Vivette Beuster

"I have a new set of tools that I have already used to start improving my relationships with others. I am particularly grateful that almost all of my colleagues are going through the same workshops because we now have a common understanding of how to be responsive to each other (if we choose to)." -Dr. Vivette Beuster

"The Culture Change - Resolving Conflict workshops based on the Arbinger approach is truly a life style and absolutely life changing. It can be applied to any aspect of life; with colleagues and personal relationships and friendships. I feel so blessed and grateful to have been able to participate and to be 'out of the box'!" -Emilee Findley

"I found the Culture Change - Resolving Conflict workshop series to be very eye-opening in regards to the way we relate to others, both in the workplace and in our personal relationships. It has provided me with valuable insights that I know have already begun to change the way I think about others, as well as to provide tools to help keep me out of the 'box'. I would highly recommend this training." -Cindy Card

Professional Development


Dispute Resolution Services

The Peace Institute and the Dispute Resolution Center of King County

Green River Peace Institute and the Dispute Resolution Center of King County have formed a collaborative partnership to provide dispute resolution services and mediator training and certification in South King County.

The Green River PI has a conflict resolution and transformation mission, with a special focus on both the resolution of community disputes, as well as on restorative processes and sustained dialogue.

Our main audiences are: The five cities and communities served by Green River College; Green River college students; as well as students, parents and teachers in the local school districts.

Green River has facilities in Kent, Auburn and Enumclaw suitable for mediation sessions and training and has also arranged appropriate meeting and mediation facilities in the municipalities of Covington and Maple Valley.

Green River Peace Institute is delighted to be associated with the non-profit Dispute Resolution Center of King County (KCDRC) which has provided affordable mediation and conflict resolution services since 1986. It is committed to extending its reach into south King County and to working with its colleagues at Green River to provide services to the local community.

KCDRC’s professional volunteer mediators help resolve more than 1,000 disputes a year. Using volunteer mediators ensures services are affordable, so that more citizens have access to low-cost resolution processes.

The partnership between KCDRC and Green River PI offers the communities in South King County:

  • In-take services for mediations, telephone conciliations and problem solving
  • A pool of experienced certified volunteer mediators
  • One of the state’s largest and most respected mediation training programs.

Volunteer mediators are trained to assist in resolving the following types of disputes:

  • Family matters such as divorce, asset division and parenting plans.
  • Neighborhood problems involving noise, animals, parking, property lines, lawn and garden care.
  • Business-consumer issues involving repairs, incomplete work, unmet expectations and warranties.
  • Landlord-tenant problems with security deposits, cleaning, rules, disagreements, unpaid bills or rent.
  • Foreclosure mediation helping homeowners and their lenders explore possible alternatives to foreclosure.
  • Eldercare issues with care facilities, decision about aging parents and estate distribution.
  • Organizational conflict within nonprofits, businesses or faith-based organizations.
  • Workplace conflict involving management, employees or co-workers.
  • Cross-cultural issues involving cultural practices and beliefs.

Training Programs

To support our community mediation and peacebuilding services, training programs are offered throughout the year at Green River’s Kent campus. During the 40-hour Basic Mediation Training program, a special presentation on ‘Peacebuilding in the Community’ was held on May 5, 2014. A schedule of upcoming events is posted on the webpage from time to time.

Mediator Practicum & Certification

Those successfully completing the Basic Mediation Training program are eligible to apply for entry to the Mediator Practicum required for the award of a ‘Certified Mediation Practitioner’ certificate. Completion of the KCDRC practicum may also be used toward fulfillment of the requirements of the ‘Certificate in Conflict Transformation’ from Green River-PI. This latter certificate requires the completion of two additional courses.


Both KCDRC and GR-PI are linked to each other’s websites: and respectively.

Mediator Certification

We utilize a co-mediation model in which each session is facilitated by two mediators, at least one of whom is an experienced certified mediation practitioner. To become a certified mediation practitioner, in addition to completing the basic training program, requires a supervised practicum involving observations and co-mediations in addition to a paper-based test and a practical demonstration of competence.

After successfully completing the 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training program, graduates are eligible to apply for entry to the Mediator Practicum required for the award of a 'Certified Mediation Practitioner' certificate. Places are limited and the overall process is managed by the King County Dispute Resolution Center (KCDRC), with the assistance of Green River colleagues.

Successful completion of the KCDRC practicum – and certification as a mediation practitioner –may be used towards partial fulfillment of the requirements of the ‘Certificate in Advanced Conflict Transformation’ from Green River PI. This certificate requires the completion of two additional 8-Hour courses which are described under the ‘Anatomy of Peace and Conflict Transformation’ section on this website.

Community Dialogue; Restorative Processes

Restorative Dialogue

At a time when conflict has become increasingly polarized and dysfunctional, restorative dialogue provides a safe, respectful, and effective process to address conflict. It works with small and large groups and with strangers or with people who know each other well, even families.

Restorative dialogue uses a mindfulness-based approach to conflict that is grounded in open hearted, moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It creates a safe place in which the people involved in a conflict can listen deeply to each other's story and perception of the conflict, without attempting to persuade the other.

The goal is to humanize the conflict and repair the emotional or physical harm to the greatest extent possible.

Restorative dialogue is concerned with healing and the transformation of relationships among those in conflict, with no expectation that all must see "eye to eye", or agree on all issues. Restorative dialogue provides a healthy outlet for release of the energy that drives conflict. Instead of avoiding the conflict and encouraging continued passive-aggressive, indirect communication among the involved parties, it directly addresses conflict in a safe way. It is often used in the criminal justice system or in ADR as victim/offender mediation, community conferencing, or the circle process. In this context, it is known as restorative processes.

Restorative Processes

Restorative Processes is a collaborative, peacemaking approach to conflict resolution, and can be employed in a variety of settings e.g., family, business, school, judicial system.

It refers to a process in which those affected by an incident of wrongdoing come together, in a safe and controlled environment, to share their feelings and opinions truthfully and resolve together how best to deal with its aftermath.   

Restorative Processes can also use several different formats to achieve its goals, including victim-offender dialogue, community or family group conferences, sentencing circles, community panels, and so on. A primary restorative value is respect which in turn engenders trust and good faith relationships within and between individuals and community groups.  

Restorative Processes emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational.

Restorative processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

Restorative processes are increasingly being used in schools, care homes and the wider community to address conflict, build understanding and strengthen relationships with young people.

The process is called restorative because it is concerned primarily with restoring, insofar as is possible, the dignity and well-being of those harmed by an incident.  From this it follows that justice processes may be considered restorative insofar as they give expression to key restorative values, such as respect, honesty, humility, mutual care, accountability, trust - that is, the values essential to healthy, equitable, and just relationships.

The process is not restorative if offenders are not held accountable for what happened and for addressing the consequences of their wrongful actions or are forced to assume responsibility involuntarily. The process therefore needs to seek outcomes that meet present needs and focus on the future, not simply on penalties that punish past wrongdoing.

These outcomes should seek to promote the healing of the victim and the reintegration of the offender, so that the former condition of both may be transformed into something healthier. The process is not restorative if the outcomes are irrelevant to the victim or aimed solely at punishing the offender.   

It is important to note that restorative processes are not a substitute for the criminal justice system, but rather complements it. Accordingly, participants need to know how restorative processes fit into the wider justice system, what expectations are appropriate for the restorative processes, and how restorative outcomes may or may not be taken into account by the court.

Basic Mediation Training (40 hrs)

For Members of the Green River Community: A Course in understanding conflict and mediating disputes!

Do you want to learn more about resolving conflict collaboratively - and peacefully?

Or perhaps you want to become a community mediator?

Either way, in the Basic Mediation Training, you will learn basic skills and strategies relevant to workplace, family and personal relationships.

Experienced mediator Richard Elfers leads this 40-hour, five day workshop (June 22-24 & 29 & 30)and is assisted by guest presenters. 

In the experiential elements, including role plays, participants will be assisted by experienced mediation coaches including Marty Hawkins, David Davis, Pam Deacon-Joyner, Dee Knapp and Barry Bannister.

We have a few places remaining for participants from the college. To register for this course, please contact Cynthia Lemberg,

View on Events Calendar

Specialist Training

Training courses on the specialist topics listed below are scheduled annually, or as required by a cohort of at least ten enrollees:

  • Peer Mediation
  • Sustained Dialogue
  • Restorative Dialogue
  • Family Relationships including Parent-Teen Dialogue & Mediation
  • Group Facilitation & Mediation
  • Workplace Mediation
  • Arbitration

Except for Peer Mediation, it is expected that enrollees will have completed either our Understanding and Resolving Conflict 40-Hour Course, or an approved Basic Mediation Training Program from an accredited dispute resolution center in Washington State or elsewhere in the United States.

Peer Mediation training is provided mainly for College and High School students prior to their working with fellow students to resolve disputes that arise either on campus, or in extra-curricular contexts.

Anatomy of Peace and Conflict Transformation

  1. The ‘Anatomy of Peace’ Course

    The 8-Hour Anatomy of Peace Course focuses on the fact that we each consistently have a choice in how we regard, understand and treat others in our daily interactions.

    The philosopher, Martin Buber’s formulation of this choice was between seeing and treating others as of equal value as ourselves — “I-Thou” — or as something less—“I-It”. In simpler terms, this choice describes the dynamics of a positive, responsive relationship, or one characterized by a negative, resistant approach.

    The latter dynamic leads inevitably to conflict and its accompanying dysfunctions in one’s personal or organizational relationships.

    This course closely examines the motivations and ways-of-being underlying this negativity with the benefit of concepts and techniques developed by C. Terry Warner, founder of the Arbinger Institute. In doing so we advocate ways of addressing conflict by moving to positive, responsive ‘ways-of-being’ typical of conflict transformation.

  2. The ‘Advanced Conflict Transformation’ Course

    The 8-Hour Advanced Conflict Transformation Course provides a framework for understanding and implementing sustainable conflict transformation.

    In doing this, the course focuses on a deeper understanding and development of skills in analyzing a conflict situation drawn from workplace or other contexts. We will also examine the dynamics of forgiveness and reconciliation based on examples of violence in which victims and offenders engage in restorative dialogue in an attempt to move towards peace.

    This course focuses on changing standard processes and techniques by taking a different approach to conflict, thus bringing a new clarity to these processes. Course participants gain an understanding of how to apply conflict transformation theory to specific conflict situations within their organizations or families.

    Prerequisite: Our Resolving Conflict workshop series (16 hours), or a Basic Mediation Training (40 hour) course.

Additional Programs

What is Sustained Dialogue?

Sustained Dialogue (SD) is a tool that helps students make time to understand the different perspectives of individuals they otherwise would not meet. Engaging in such important conversations not only enables them to interact comfortably with all kinds of people, but also helps build relationships across community divides. SD equips students with communication skills necessary for increasingly diverse academic, social, and work environments.

SD is a natural 5-stage process that works. It is one based on developing a relationship first before solving a misunderstanding or conflict. On college campuses, students meet regularly in small groups over the course of an academic year. This makes SD unique from one-day forums that give only enough time for individuals to express their problems and concerns, when what they really need is to continue the dialogue, get to the root of the issue and come to an understanding before taking action to solve it.

Many of the deep-rooted human conflicts that seize our attention today are not ready for formal mediation and negotiation. Harold Saunders' book, A Public Peace Process provides citizens with their own instrument for transforming conflict. Saunders outlines a systematic approach for reducing racial, ethnic and other deep-rooted tensions in their countries, communities and organizations.

SD Values:

  • Courage: to engage those different from ourselves, to challenge bias in others and ourselves, and to take action to address inequities
  • Empathy: a willingness to listen deeply to others - especially in moments of conflict; leads to more inclusive worldviews
  • Spirit of Inquiry: learn from each other, rigorously evaluate our efforts, analyze data to inform our program and operations strategies
  • Continuity: commitment to sustained engagement to facilitate lasting impact in communities and organizations
  • Collaboration: examine relationships among individuals, groups, organizations, and communities; collaborate to ignite deeper impact

SD groups are given the freedom to concentrate on the issues most pertinent to their campus community.

At Princeton University, where it was first introduced, the mission of Sustained Dialogue is to address race and other deep-rooted social divisions, like gender and religion, through meaningful relationships cultivated and supported by ongoing dialogue.

Participants meet for weekly dinners in assigned residential colleges in order to discuss such issues with a constant group. Sustained Dialogue at Princeton also hosts study-breaks, social events for participants across groups to get to know each other, as well as a banquet and a barbecue at the end of respective semester.

From when it was you were first aware that you were different, to the privilege that you were able to experience because of your background, to how you take care of your hair and what your standards of beauty and how society influenced your tastes - SD covers it all. And it becomes clear just how much opening up and speaking honestly can transform you.

Sustained Dialogue takes different forms in different colleges and universities. I am keen on the approach used by the International Institute on Sustained Dialogue.

Research, Grants & Consultancy

This is a developing area of mediation and peace-building activity which will benefit from additional time in which to engage with potential donors and supporters of this initiative. To date, members of our team have succeeded in acquiring federal grants partly to support instruction in mediation and peace-building, while two grant proposals for international training programs are currently awaiting decision.

In terms of consultancy activity, we have a track record of working successfully with two foreign universities in providing curriculum and instruction in negotiation and conflict resolution, as well as designing and delivering mediator training for the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank.

Research opportunities exist for students and faculty interested in working with US and international colleagues in the field of conflict resolution education. Our criminal justice professor has initiated contact with the conflict resolution education network and selected a student to attend an international conference which will give rise to research and development initiatives on the Green River campus in 2015 and after.

Contact Us

Dr. Barry Bannister

Dr. Barry Bannister
Director, The Peace Institute at Green River
Green River College
Kent Campus
417 Ramsay Way, Suite 112
Kent, WA 98032

Tel: (253) 288 3437
Cell: (253) 397-0301 
Fax: (253) 333-4972