Centre for Informal Dispute Resolution (CIDR)

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CIDR is an organization with a practical orientation run by the School of Conflict Studies. Its role is to develop skills and research in the area of informal dispute resolution.

What is Informal Dispute Resolution?

Informal Dispute Resolution (IDR) is a set of easily accessible, inexpensive and non-accusatory processes that serve to prevent, mitigate manage and/or peacefully resolve disputes between people or groups of people.

The best-known IDR processes are negotiation, conciliation, mediation, arbitration, dialogue, group intervention and coaching.

The adjective “informal” is applied to these methods to differentiate them from the legal and political conflict resolution processes rooted in law and constitutional tradition.

Informal approaches to conflict prevention and resolution are becoming commonplace in all large organizations because administrative procedures in place are not only insufficient to resolve disputes, but also because legal adjudication is often expensive, long and painful.

Saint Paul University has been at the forefront of Canadian innovators in this field for over 20 years through its Conflict Studies’ programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and PhD levels.


  • To develop informal, inclusive and peaceful dispute resolution through training, practice and applied research;
  • To prepare SPU students for the practice of informal, inclusive and peaceful dispute resolution;
  • To promote the dissemination and use of informal, inclusive and peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms within the University and the community at large.

Importance for students: 

Several students in Conflict Studies have shown interest in the practice of informal dispute resolution so they can join organizations involved in conflict resolution and prevention such as mediation offices, ombudsman services, staff offices, unions, law firms and companies specializing in negotiation and mediation. Some also anticipate working individually in this field as trainers, consultants or mediators.

As part of their preparation toward practice-based work, our students in the bachelor program already receive first-rate academic training in the following courses: Active Listening, Negotiation, Mediation, Dialogue, Technical and Legal Aspects of Conflict Resolution, Conflicts in Organizations, Local and Community Conflicts, Group Facilitation, and Mentoring in Conflict Resolution.

However, Conflict Studies professors are aware that students want to enhance their education with practical training, exercises and interventions. CIDR will bridge this gap by offering additional preparation for employment through targeted workshops, seminars, interventions, internships, exercises and observations.