In 1984 the faculty at the University of Missouri School of Law identified what seemed like a missing piece in legal education: the amount of attention that law schools were paying to teach students how to be problem solvers. The faculty realized that this gap was in part due to the lack of understanding regarding the theory and practice of how disputes were resolved outside the litigation context. While scholars and practitioners had started to study alternative dispute resolution processes, the field lacked a coherent core.
With the support and encouragement of Dean Dale Whitman, the faculty embarked on a mission to shape the development of this nascent field of legal studies through the creation of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution, and a commitment to bring together scholars to teach and research in this area. Professor Leonard L. Riskin was the inaugural director of the Center.
The mission of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution is to advance the understanding of the nature and causes of conflict, as well as the methods available for conflict resolution. The CSDR fosters comprehensive approaches to lawyering and decision-making through the use of the full array of dispute resolution processes including negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation.