The Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) is a statutory, state-funded institute which offers skilled assistance to resolve conflicts and build consensus within government and across sectors statewide. In business for more than a quarter century, it joined UMass Boston in 2005 as a free standing research institute. In December, it officially found a new home at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.
The center employs five full-time and two part-time employees and 35 affiliates who are highly qualified and experienced using techniques of mediation, conflict resolution, and collaborative governance. As a neutral forum and state-level resource, MOPC staff offer practical and insightful assistance to public agencies and communities in order to reach agreement on contentious public issues like affordable housing, land use, community policing, economic development, and family, neighborhood, and school conflicts.
Speaking on the center’s new home at the McCormack, Center Executive Director Susan M. Jeghelian notes, “There are common missions and significant synergies between our center and the McCormack Graduate School. We see tremendous opportunities for impactful partnership with their academic programs in public policy, conflict resolution, and gerontology.” MOPC will also enjoy a close partnership with the Collins Center for Public Management and explore joint projects with the Center for Social Policy and Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.
McCormack’s Dean Ira A. Jackson sees the addition of the center as a win-win for both students and faculty at the graduate school.
“With this new affiliation with MOPC, we expect to see an increase in student applications and enrollment. Internships will also be available for students to conduct research at the center or to participate in a service-learning assignment with a community mediation center.” Jackson also explained that a long-term strategy is under development to create a certificate program or training institute for public sector employees who want to build skills and competencies in conflict resolution and collaborative governance.
The dean states that MOPC offers not only abundant research opportunities for faculty but that its projects and outcomes can also begin to contribute more robustly to theory and practice and help inform problem-solving outside of Massachusetts as well.
Speaking on the public impact of the center, Jackson said, “I just finished reading MOPC’s year-end report to the State House. The extent of their public service work is simply astounding. As just one example, they administer more than a half million dollars in grants to more than a dozen qualified Community Mediation Centers throughout the state, and MOPC documents an $8M return on investment to the state in the form of cost savings and leveraged resources.”
The Community Mediation Grant Program funds a network of centers serving courts and communities across the state. In 2014, MOPC qualified centers facilitated 3800 mediations involving nearly 8,000 people, trained 500 people in in mediation and 1300 in conflict resolution, conducted outreach events drawing 12,000 community members, resolved 164 school conflicts; supervised 500 mediation volunteers offering 9,000 pro bono hours, reached 2500 agreements across 78 courts divisions and 14 counties, and returned $3.72M to consumers.