Tracer Study Report 2022

The Master of Advanced Studies ETH Mediation in Peace Processes (MAS ETH MPP) is a continuing education program for midcareer professionals seeking to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and techniques to mediate violent political conflicts. The MAS ETH MPP seeks to contribute to more effective peace processes and thus a more peaceful and secure world by enabling program graduates to design and run mediation processes using the latest theoretical, methodological, and practical foundations of mediation.

The Master of Advanced Studies ETH Mediation in Peace Processes (MAS ETH MPP) is a continuing
education program for midcareer professionals seeking to acquire the necessary knowledge,
skills, and techniques to mediate violent political conflicts. The MAS ETH MPP seeks to contribute
to more effective peace processes and thus a more peaceful and secure world by enabling program
graduates to design and run mediation processes using the latest theoretical, methodological,
and practical foundations of mediation.


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Department of Humanities

Social and Political Sciences


Tracer Study Report

September 2020


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction 5

2. Methodology 7

3. Overview of Student Cohort 8

4. Overall Highlights 10

5. Key Dimensions 14

5.1. Competence .................................................. 14

5.2. Learning ..................................................... 18

5.3. Career Path .................................................. 19

5.4. Community ................................................... 21

5.5 MAS ETH MPP Program ........................................ 24

6. Annexes 29

6.1 Tracer Study Consent Form .................................... 29

6.2 Online Survey 30

6.3 Semi-Structured Interview Questions ........................... 32

6.4 MAS ETH MPP Pedagogical Approach ........................... 35

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Tracer Study Report


1. Introduction

The Master of Advanced Studies ETH Mediation in Peace Processes (MAS ETH MPP) is a continuing

education program for midcareer professionals seeking to acquire the necessary knowledge,

skills, and techniques to mediate violent political conflicts. The MAS ETH MPP seeks to contribute

to more effective peace processes and thus a more peaceful and secure world by enabling program

graduates to design and run mediation processes using the latest theoretical, methodological,

and practical foundations of mediation.1 Currently, the MAS ETH MPP is globally the only in-depth

program that professionalizes the training of mediators working in peace processes.

The MAS ETH MPP is built on a close partnership between ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Department

of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the United Nations (UN) and the foreign ministries of Germany, Finland,

and Sweden. These partners serve on the program’s Strategic Advisory Board that advises the

program management on the MAS ETH MPP’s relevance to practice, international visibility, long-term

financing and political marketing. The program is formally hosted by the Department of Humanities,

Social and Political Sciences (D-GESS) at ETH Zurich. The MAS ETH MPP is also supported by

international organizations, such as the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Security and

Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

In practical terms, the MAS ETH MPP entails 1,800 hours of study (60 points in the European Credit

Transfer and Accumulation System, ECTS), consisting of six face-to-face modules of 2-3 weeks in

length (a total of 15 weeks), extensive self-study, and two written papers over a two-year period.

The program is organized so that students can work part-time throughout their studies. The first

cycle of the program ran from 2017 until 2019, the second cycle from 2019 until 2021, and the third

cycle started in 2021 with expected graduation in 2023 (number of students 2017-2019: 18, 2019-

2021: 21, 2021-2023: 20).

The program’s students are highly qualified international professionals with diverse experience in

peace mediation and varied academic backgrounds with at least a Master’s degree. Given the nature

of the program’s target audience, admissions are highly selective with acceptance rates below 10%.

Pedagogically, the program utilizes a multidisciplinary approach and combines a strong academic

grounding with an explicitly robust practitioner orientation.2 The program trainers are experts on

mediation research, policy, and practice from a broad international network and four different ETH


Following the conclusion of the first cycle of the program in 2019, ETH Zurich developed a tracer

study in order to get a sense of the program alumni’s career paths and the role of the program

therein. Additionally, the tracer study was designed to understand better the relevance of the

program to the alumni in their work and assess what impact the program has had on the students’

professional development. The information gathered from the tracer study is useful in evaluating

the overall MAS ETH MPP program as well as in providing insights for program admissions in terms

of identifying the most suitable student profiles for future cycles. This publication is the outcome of

the first tracer study conducted in the context of the MAS ETH MPP. As explained later in this report,

the study was informed by semi-structured interviews and an online survey shared with the first

student cohort that graduated from the program in 2019.

In terms of structure, this tracer study report is divided into a few sections. Following this

introduction, Section 2 provides an overview of the methodology of the study. The third section

provides an overview of the program’s first student cohort and their motivations for joining the

program. That section is followed by a summary of key insights that emerged from the tracer study.

These insights are some of the broader highlights of the study, whereas the final section delves

deeper into the five specific areas of the study (competence, career path and motivation, learning,

mediation community, and perspectives on the program) to give an account of the most significant

findings in each of them. A few annexes are included at the end of the report.

1 Graduates of the program should

be well versed in both the theory and

practice of mediation in peace processes.

This includes a detailed understanding

of (a) contributing factors

to armed conflicts and mediation; (b)

actors in conflicts and peace processes;

(c) content of peace agreements;

and (d) phases of peace processes.

Graduates should also acquire and

master practical mediation skills and

techniques, including communication,

relationship building, conflict analysis,

and the design, implementation, and

assessment of mediation processes.

2 The program’s pedagogical

approach is included in Annex 6.4

6 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report


Tracer Study Report


2. Methodology

This tracer study is based primarily on semi-structured interviews with members of the MAS ETH

MPP program’s first student cohort (2017-2019). Participation rate in the study was high: out of the

eighteen members of the cohort, a total of sixteen (89%) were interviewed.3 The interviews were

carried out by the MAS ETH MPP Program Coordinator and Program Advisor between June and

August 2020. Each interview lasted between 45 and 90 minutes. Although most interviews were

conducted virtually via the ETH Zoom-on-premises software, some were done via WhatsApp audio

calls and one in person on ETH premises.

The structure of the interviews was designed by the Program Advisor and

Program Coordinator in consultation with the Program Director and the Head of

the Mediation Support Team at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich.

The interviews focused on the following five different aspects of the program:

Percentage of Student Cohort Interviewed

1. Competence: How did the MAS ETH MPP program advance students’

competence in terms of relevant skills, attitudes, and knowledge? To what extent

– and how – have the students been able to transfer their learnings to practice?

2. Career Path: What impact has the program had on the students’ motivation to

work in the field of peace mediation and their career paths therein?

3. Learning: What impact has the program had on the students’ way of learning?

4. Mediation Community: What impact has the program had on the students’

professional networks in the field of peace mediation? Has the program

contributed to the creation of a community of practice in the field of peace


5. General Perceptions: How do the alumni perceive the MAS ETH MPP program

in general?

Not interviewed

11 %

89 %


A more detailed list of the interview questions is included in Annex 1. The first interview was done

jointly by the Program Coordinator and Program Advisor in order to test the set of questions and

get a sense of the overall flow of the interview. Thereafter, the subsequent interviews were done

separately by the Coordinator and Advisor.

Before each interview was conducted, the participants were asked to fill out an informed consent

form, in which they could indicate how information from the interview could be used (e.g., anonymous

quotes vs. direct quotes) and whether the interview could be recorded. With the exception of one

interview, all interviews were recorded and subsequently transcribed by the MAS ETH MPP Program

Administrator. This report incorporates a few direct quotes from the interviews with the program

alumni. w, in the interest of protecting the students’ privacy, all quotes are anonymous and gender

neutral (However the report uses “they” or “he/she” when referring to specific students).

The interviewees were also asked to take a brief survey via the ETH SelectSurvey software. Among

other things, the survey asked the respondents to provide basic information about their educational

background and motivations for joining the program as well as provide an overall numerical

evaluation of the program. The full survey is included in Annex 2. 15 out of the 16 interviewees

responded to the online survey. Key highlights of the survey results are included throughout this


Once the interviews were completed, they were first analyzed separately by the Program Coordinator,

Program Advisor, and Program Administrator to identify key trends and highlights. This was followed

by joint brainstorming, discussion, and analysis by the Program Coordinator and Advisor, which

fed into the drafting of this report. It should be noted that the analysis was also informed to some

degree by inputs and written evaluations provided by the students to the MAS ETH MPP program

staff throughout the program.

3 One student did not want to take part

in the study due to personal reasons

and another one because they were

yet to complete all program modules

(i.e. the student in question will complete

their studies with the second

cycle of the program).

8 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

3. Overview of Student Cohort

The MAS ETH MPP program admissions are competitive, attracting

applications from diverse candidates from around the world.

Particular attention is paid to the overall composition of the student

cohort in terms of prior experience and exposure to mediation as well

as the participants’ academic, geographic, gender, and institutional


The admissions process for the program’s first cycle (2017-2019) was highly competitive. 180

applications were received for a total of 18 places in the program. This means that the program’s

acceptance rate was 10%, which is particularly low for a continuing education program.4 Five

percent of the applicants had a doctorate, 72% a Master’s degree, and 23% an undergraduate degree.

Geographically speaking, most applications were received from Africa and Asia, followed by Europe

and North America, the Middle East and North Africa, and then Latin America.

From the broad pool of applications, the program selected a student cohort consisting of 18

participants with diverse professional and personal backgrounds. In terms of gender, the division

was close to equal with ten male and eight female participants, respectively. Geographically, the

student cohort was genuinely global with the biggest geographic group being Europe and North

America followed by Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.5

Professionally, as can be seen in the graphs on the next page, the students represented a diverse

set of institutions, ranging from governments and regional organizations to non-governmental

organizations, the United Nations, and the private sector. Academically, all students came to the

program with at least a Master’s degree or equivalent.6 Two students had additionally completed

doctorates in their respective disciplines. In terms of their academic background, the student cohort

was rather diverse. The three most common disciplines of the students’ previous studies were law,

international relations, and history (see next page for details). It is evident that the MAS ETH MPP

program appeals to students from a variety of academic backgrounds, which is in part reflective

of the inter- and multi-disciplinary nature of peace mediation and the MAS ETH MPP curriculum.

When it comes to motivations for joining the MAS ETH MPP program, the tracer study revealed that

while there are some common trends, students join the program for a number of different reasons.

In the pre-interview survey, the alumni were asked to identify the most important factors influencing

their decision to apply to the program from a list of several potential reasons. Respondents were

allowed to select all applicable options. The results are visualized in the graph on the next page. The

three most frequently selected motivations were an interest in increasing their knowledge about

peace mediation, improving their mediation practice, and building a broader professional network

in the field of peace mediation. Additionally, several respondents chose to join the program in order

to learn more about the current academic research in the field of peace mediation, which is perhaps

understandable given the practitioner background of the cohort.

A few alumni also hoped that the program would provide them with an opportunity to step back

and reflect more broadly on their experiences in the field of mediation – something that a hectic job

might not enable normally. It is evident from these results that students join the MAS ETH MPP for

substantive reasons rather than for the sake of simply receiving a diploma. In other words, instead

of joining because of the reputation of ETH Zurich or getting a break from their work, participants

are highly motivated to professionalize their mediation practice by learning more about the field in

both theory and practice.

4 At the time of publication, the admissions

rates for the program’s second

and third cycle were confirmed at 9.63

and 8.03 %, respectively.

5 Europe and North America was the

most represented geographical area

in the student cohort due to the fact

that the program’s strategic partners

– the Governments of Switzerland,

Germany, Sweden, and Finland – send

their own representatives to the


6 One student had a previous Master

of Advanced Studies degree from ETH



Tracer Study Report


Academic Background

Professional Affiliation

33.33 % Law

5.56 % Economics

22.22 % International Relations/Diplomatic Studies

11.11 % History

5.56 % Public Affairs

5.56 % Regional Studies

5.56 % Security Studies

5.56 % Environmental Planning 5.56 % Social Development

33 % Government

17 % Regional Organisation

11 % UN

28 % NGO

5 % Private Sector

Why did you want to join the program?

Having fun

Having a break from work

ETH reputation/status

Publishing articles/reports

Doing a career change

Finding a job in the field

Having time to reflect

on my experience in the field

Getting updated on current

academic research on mediation

Networking and building

a broader professional network

Improve own mediation practice

0 3 6 9 12 15

Increase knowledge about

peace mediation

10 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

4. Overall Highlights

Several overarching, significant insights emerge from the tracer study

pertaining to the program’s structure, pedagogical approach, and

overall nature. These are highlighted below and then explained in

greater detail in the subsequent sections of this report.

• The program’s overall structure and content work. According to the respondents, the structure

of the program (see picture on page 4), consisting of six intensive modules of in-person teaching in

Zurich, independent study, and two written papers, manages to cover all important aspects of the

complex field of peace mediation in a comprehensive yet logical fashion. Appreciation was given

particularly to the cumulative and additive nature of the curriculum: each module builds on the

previous ones, touching on a different topic, but these various “ingredients” work well as a coherent

whole. The respondents also pointed to the importance of the part-time nature of the program.

The back and forth between program modules and daily work enabled participants to transfer

learnings to practice and reflect on current practice while learning, but also – and very importantly

– maintain their jobs throughout the program. While the two written papers were considered intense

(particularly the literature review paper), they were identified as an opportunity to delve deeper into

a particular topic and link the program to ongoing work. Alumni perceived the program as having

very high standards of learning and practice that demand rigor and hard work on the part of the

participants, but that pushes students towards “excellence”. In sum, albeit (or because of) being

heavy and intense, the structure of the program works and makes for a coherent, comprehensive

package. This satisfaction with the overall program was reflected also in the survey responses to

general questions about the program’s structure, content, and organization. As seen in the graph

on the next page, when asked to rate the program in terms of how good the didactics, environment,

logistics, or overall structure were, most respondents were either extremely or very satisfied with

the program. This does not mean, however, that specific ideas for improvement did not arise during

the interviews; on the contrary, while being generally very satisfied with the program, respondents

made proposals for improvement on various aspects of the program, for instance, allowing for more

time to digest information throughout the modules, providing additional inputs on team work, and

strengthening the last two modules’ link to the overall program. These ideas are discussed in the

subsequent sections of this report.

• The program and its pedagogical approach live up to the slogan of being “academically based,

practitioner-oriented”. The premise of the MAS ETH MPP program is to function in the theorypractice

nexus between the world of academia and that of mediation practice. This is at the heart

of the program’s efforts to professionalize peace mediation: experts working in and around peace

processes must learn from scholarly evidence to inform their practice of mediating violent political

conflict, and vice versa. The respondents noted that the program was successful in, on the one

hand, providing academic knowledge to practitioners and, on the other hand, providing practical

knowledge and skills to more academically inclined participants. The program is “academically

rigorous but very, very practical” noted one student, while another said that the program’s design

“in terms of combining the latest up-to-date theories and academic work with practice is a major

selling point.” In a similar vein, one respondent noted that “the strength of ETH is in linking academia

with political mediation practice.” The teaching methods of the program play a crucial role in this

regard. As seen on the next page, 93% of the students rated the program’s didactics either extremely

high (5 out of 5) or very high (4 out of 5). The respondents particularly appreciated the program’s

pedagogical approach (see Annex 6.4), which in their view enables learning from both theory and

practice but also from the nexus between them. The approach adheres to the holistic view that

learning requires developing the faculties of the head (cognitive – conceptual analysis and rational

judgment), the heart (affective attitudes, values and motivations), and the hands (behavioral – skills

and techniques). The program’s curriculum and teaching methods reflect this pedagogical approach

in focusing on all three areas.


Tracer Study Report


• The program is instrumental in shaping participants’ career paths. The program targets broadly,

but it also seeks to enable and help participants identify career opportunities in the field of peace

mediation. Within a year of graduating from the program, 40 % to be consistent of the alumni

mentioned the program as having directly contributed to them getting a new mediation-related job,

and over two thirds identified the program as having had generally a positive impact on their careers

(e.g., allowing them to focus more on mediation in their current job). Examples of mediation-related

jobs alumni received in months following graduation included Senior Mediation Adviser in the UN

Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers, Political Affairs Officer in the UN Mediation Support

Unit, and Mediation Adviser in the European Union External Action Service. This significant finding

on the program’s impact on alumni’s careers is discussed in greater detail in the career path section

of this report.

• The program equips participants with an improved ability to do structured, systematic analysis

based on academic knowledge. Enhanced conflict analysis skills and a better understanding

of academic knowledge on peace mediation were the two most frequently mentioned personal

developments the students associate with the program. The alumni have a more systematic

approach to understanding conflict – partly due to having been familiarized with several conceptual

frameworks and partly because of both learning about and practicing hands-on conflict analysis

in the program. Students are exposed to academic knowledge throughout the program and learn

more about how scholars go about making sense of conflict in a systematic, structured fashion.

This helps students to engage in systematic, reflective thinking themselves. This was evident also

in the interviewees’ responses when asked to whom they would recommend the program: there

was consensus among the respondents that the program would benefit practitioners, in particular,

as it exposes them to structured, systematic academic thinking and knowledge. The alumni’s

familiarity with scholarly thinking and writing is also reflected in the fact that a few alumni have

published articles on mediation-related topics or initiated working with academics on targeted

research projects.7 In terms of specific tools, the Actor, Content, Context, Process (ACCP) conflict

analysis framework was an important highlight for most alumni in that it provides a clear umbrella

framework and methodology for making sense of conflicts more systematically.

7 Student publications include:

Gehrmann, Björn. 2019. Third-Party

Diplomacy. Brighton: HiCN Households

in Conflict Network.

Kane, Sean William. 2019. Peace Agreement

Provisions and the Durability

of Peace. Zurich: Center for Security

Studies (CSS), ETHZ.

———. 2020.

“Making Peace When the Whole World

Has Come to Fight: The Mediation of

Internationalized Civil Wars.” International

Peacekeeping: 1–27.

Overall Structure, Content and Organization








1 not satisfied at all 2 not so satisfied 3 so so

4 very satisfied 5 extremely satisfied

Overall, how satisfied are you with the MAS ETH MPP program?

Overall, how interesting would ou rate the content of the MAS ETH MPP program?

Overall, how would you rate the structure of the program in terms of its content

(i.e., logic of program substance and sequencing of topics)?

Overall, how would you rate the didactics (teaching methods) of the MAS ETH MPP program?

Overall, how would you rate the environment of the MAS ETH MPP program?

Overall, how would you rate the logistical organization of the MAS ETH MPP program?

12 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

• The program equips participants with a mindset and attitude for reflection and self-awareness.

Related to the above point on analysis, another frequently mentioned personal development the

respondents associated with the program was a shift in their mindsets and attitudes towards greater

reflection and self-awareness. The program nurtured a mindset of openness and curiosity among

the alumni to reflect on their own personalities, attitudes, strengths, and weaknesses in order to

get to know themselves better. As one respondent noted, the program was “an intense experience

which was also profound… learning about yourself, your own limitations and biases… [which was]

inspiring, also sobering.” Others noted that they had become more patient and more critical thinkers

as a result of the program, becoming better listeners and taking sufficient time to think and reflect

before making rash judgements. The program therefore has been able to do justice to the “heart”

dimension of the pedagogical approach in nurturing greater self-awareness, reflection, and a

mindset shift in the alumni.

• The program equips participants with an enhanced understanding of mediation processes.

Even if perhaps an expected result, an important trend in the interviews was a sense of enhanced

confidence among the respondents to make sense of peace mediation processes. Although many

participants came to the program with some prior knowledge and experience in peace mediation,

most felt that the program gave them a much better understanding of how mediation actually “works”

in the real world and what it can – and perhaps should – look like. This improved understanding was

often associated at the macro level with being able to better contextualize mediation in the broader

peace process (for instance, in relation to different phases of peace processes or other conflict

resolution approaches) and, at the micro level, with having a lot more detailed knowledge about the

constituent elements of process design. A specific tool/framework mentioned in this context by many

respondents was the “18 Key Questions for Process Design” produced by the program for its process

design module. Additionally, the interactive, immersive role-plays of the program were recognized

as having given the participants a better sense of the complexities of peace processes. Given the

usefulness of putting learnt knowledge and skills to practice, some respondents encouraged the

program to identify more opportunities for students to be engaged in mediation processes in “the

real world” and receive mentoring from seasoned experts.

• Diversity and quality of both trainers and students are crucial. When reflecting back on the

program, the interviewed alumni identified the overall quality and diversity of trainers and the

student cohort as one of the strongest aspects of the program. This diversity of trainers and students

was the most frequently mentioned aspect of the program when the respondents were asked what

enabled them to learn, grow, and develop professionally during the time they spent at ETH Zurich.

With regard to trainers, the program has been able to attract both leading scholars from various

academic disciplines as well as practitioners with hands-on expertise on peace mediation. The

respondents were particularly appreciative of the “high-caliber” of trainers, ranging from Special

Envoys of the United Nations to directors of academic institutions. “The quality of trainers was

brilliant: there is no other place where you get to interact with such people in one place,” noted

one respondent. Similarly, the diversity of the student cohort in terms of professional background

and affiliation (e.g., United Nations, regional organizations, government, civil society), gender, and

geography was mentioned as having been crucial to enabling peer learning and building a better

understanding of the complexities of conflict resolution globally. The respondents made a strong call

to maintain this high quality and diversity of trainers and students, while encouraging the program

to attract even more non-Western trainers to ensure adequate representation of different ideas and

approaches in the curriculum.8

• The relational and communal aspect of the program is crucial – and could even be strengthened.

Many respondents recognized the imperative value of the personal connections they made during

the program with their peers, but some also with trainers and program staff. These connections

are important on both a professional and social level. The respondents felt that it is “easy” to get

in touch with fellow students if they have a professional question, for instance relating to a conflict

context they are working on or if they need to be connected to a specific organization. On a personal

level, the structure of “sparring partners” 9 was mentioned as having been useful and something

that in many cases has continued after graduation. At the broader macro level, approximately half of

the respondents felt the program has also contributed to a sense of community of practice among

the students and the broader mediation field, even if this is a long-term effort still in its infancy.

Many respondents noted that the program gave them a better understanding of key concepts

8 Respondents also encouraged the

program to continue diversifying its

reading materials to include more

voices from non-Western scholars

and practitioners.

9 Each student is paired with another

student in the program to serve as

each other’s’ “sparring partners”. The

purpose of the sparring partners is to

check in with one another throughout

the program on both professional and

personal matters i.e. the students

can use their sparring partners as

sounding boards for any content-related

questions but they can also touch

base with one another on how they

are feeling more broadly. The sparring

partners are a semi-structured

structure in the program: there are

specific times when sparring partners

are asked to talk to one another about

specific questions, but the partners

are also encouraged to check in with

each other spontaneously at their own



Tracer Study Report


and terms in mediation, which in turn has made them able to “speak the language” of the broader

mediation community. As one student noted: “The program has imparted in me an adequate level

of knowledge that has given me the sufficient confidence and knowledge to talk to anyone within

the global mediation practitioner community. Understanding the language gives you a great sense

of belonging to that community. If you don’t understand the language, you feel like an outsider. If

you belong, you feel comfortable to ask questions.” However, another half of the respondents noted

that a strong sense of community – be it at the level of the student cohort or more broadly – was

lacking, and they called for the program to do more to nurture such a community. They wished to

be engaged more by the program after their graduation. In this regard, the Mediation Exchanges

platform launched by the program was identified as an extremely positive development and the

respondents encouraged the program to find other new ways of engaging the alumni.10

10 The Mediation Exchanges is a

platform developed by the program

for the MAS ETH MPP community

of practice. The Exchanges seek to

provide program alumni, current students,

strategic partners, and trainers

an opportunity to network with one

another, stay connected to the topic of

peace mediation, and discuss relevant

themes and issues. Each session includes

expert inputs by invited speaker(s)

and interactive discussion.

14 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

5. Key Dimensions

5.1. Competence

Alumni indicated a sense of increased competence in all three dimensions of the MAS ETH MPP

pedagogical approach: cognitive analytical competencies (head); behavioral skills (hands); and

affective attitudinal changes (heart). In the survey completed in advance of the interviews, 100% of

alumni indicated a significant advancement in their mediation knowledge and 86.67% indicated a

significant advancement in their skill and attitudes. This could explain the high levels of satisfaction

with the program given that their reasons for joining the program were primarily to increase their

knowledge about peace mediation (93%) and improve their mediation practice (80%), as summarized

in the graph on page 9.

The first questions alumni were asked in both the survey and interview were about the biggest

learning (in the survey) and the biggest change (in the interview) they see in themselves and which

they would associate with the program. They were then asked to elaborate on any additional

competencies they had either acquired or improved in the program, including specific theories, tools,

frameworks or other practices. With 100% of the alumni indicating a significant improvement in their

mediation knowledge, it is perhaps no surprise that most alumni associated their biggest change

with their exposure to academic knowledge on mediation. They felt the program enabled them

to “reconnect” with academia and link it to their practice; as one alumni noted, “the MAS enabled

me to academically understand my experiences as a practitioner, refine and include a conceptual

framework to my experience and knowledge”.

From their responses, we have identified five key areas of change and improved competencies,

which also seem to relate strongly to the rigorous academic environment within which the program

took place. These are: (1) an increased knowledge base and understanding of peace mediation;

(2) better systematic thinking and analysis; (3) change in mindset; (4) better understanding and

capacity to conduct mediation process design; and (5) improved micro skills. In addition to these

key learnings that were mentioned by many interviewees, individual alumni also mentioned specific

ideas or tools that made a lasting impact on them. In the rest of this section, we will elaborate on

each of the aforementioned key learnings and then turn to discuss the particular elements of the

pedagogy that enabled their development. We will also touch on how the alumni have transferred

their learnings to practice.

What are your key learnings from the program?

1. An increased knowledge base on peace mediation, better understanding of the field, and greater

appreciation of academic knowledge.

Alumni noted being surprised to discover “the amount of relevant academic literature and

studies available for mediation processes and subject matters,” realizing how much they did

not know beforehand, and how much more they know now, but also how they can use and share

this information wherever relevant. As one interviewee noted, he/she “knows much more about

mediation practice and has a huge change in understanding, professionally becoming a more

specialized rather than a generalist diplomat.” Another noted that they gained a “holistic sense of

understanding of the field,” while another student emphasized “putting concepts and theories to our

actual practice”. While this was a key learning in general, several alumni noted specific thematic

areas and topics in which their knowledge increased. These included, among others, justice and

dealing with the past, security, power sharing, mediation styles, gender and inclusion, emotions

and psychology of conflict, understanding of conflict contexts historically, the concept of ripeness,

and better familiarity with specific conflict cases. These were mentioned in addition to some of the

more action-oriented skills and tools detailed below.

The significance of the re-connection with academic knowledge was also evident when respondents

were asked to describe academia in one word. Most alumni had a positive reaction and chose words

that communicate the degree of academia’s relevance to practice. For most students, the MAS ETH

MPP experience was a revelation in terms of both the ability of academia to inform practice as

well as (some) scholars’ willingness to do so. For example, one student chose the words “Govinda


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Clayton” (Senior Researcher at CSS ETH Zurich and advisor to the MAS ETH MPP program) as the

best personification of this interaction; while another student mentioned that “in Zurich I saw that

there are academics who also do practical work and are quite plugged into practitioner communities”.

However, it should also be noted that a couple of students noted academia’s distant nature from

practice, even commenting on its lack of “connection to reality” at times, and choosing words like

“Ivory tower”.

2. An increased appreciation for systematic thinking and capacity to conduct structured analysis,

especially using the ACCP conflict analysis framework.

Many respondents mentioned that their key learning was the ability to be more structured and

systematic in their thinking and practice. They also mentioned being more intentional in making

space for systematic analysis, reflection, and planning before coming to conclusions, whereas before

the program they may have responded in a more ad-hoc and intuitive manner, coming to conclusions

based solely on their personal experience. One alumni explained it as follows:

“Prior to my getting onto this course, a lot of the stuff that I did was mostly ad hoc, or as the

situation demanded. The work that I did in the past was demand based, and as a result, I used

my…intuition to just say, let's do this, let's do that. But now, because I have this theoretical as

well as academic understanding of process, one tends to plan, one tends to prepare, one tends

to say, ok, what do I do? And you reflect on some of the things that were planned through some

of those practices…You actually have a sense of framework, if you like, and some thinking going

into processes.”

More specifically, analysis was mentioned as a key competence developed and advanced through the

MAS ETH MPP program. Students mentioned having a better understanding of what good analysis

is and what it demands. They also believe the MAS ETH MPP program improved their capacity

to do it in practice. This is due to (a) gaining access to, and appreciation for, academic sources

of information, (b) being more effective in absorbing and processing that information due to an

enhanced ability for deeper and more rigorous reflection and critical, systematic thinking, and (c)

use of specific analytical tools, such as the Actors, Content, Context, and Process (ACCP) Conflict

Analysis Framework11. A vast majority of participants (12) mentioned the ACCP as one of the key

takeaways they got from the program – as both an eye opener to understanding conflict and as a

practical tool for analyzing it. It is also the key learning that the highest number of alumni mentioned

applying in their work contexts, for example as a general structured thought process and mindset,

individually for a specific project, or in a team. As one alumni put it: “The ACCP was an eye opener.

The tool was really helpful to focus on conflict, it works!” The enhanced analytical skills are also

reflected in the fact that two alumni have published academic articles on relevant topics. To date,

the following publications have been published:

• Gehrmann, Björn. 2019. Third-Party Diplomacy. Brighton: HiCN Households in Conflict Network.

• Kane, Sean William. 2019. Peace Agreement Provisions and the Durability of Peace. Zurich: Center

for Security Studies (CSS), ETHZ.

• ———. 2020. “Making Peace When the Whole World Has Come to Fight: The Mediation of

Internationalized Civil Wars.” International Peacekeeping: 1–27.

3. A shift in mindset in terms of more self-awareness, confidence, and appreciation for academic


Many alumni emphasized that the program changed their attitudes and mindset as mediation

practitioners. They mentioned broader changes, such as becoming more aware of who they are and

how they perceive the world, including their strengths, weaknesses, biases and assumptions. They

also mentioned personality changes and related behavioral changes with regard to relationships

and communication with others, such as “coming out of their shell”; approaching people with more

patience and less judgement; listening more actively; and staying neutral even when “hearing what

11 For more information on the ACCP

Conflict Analysis Framework, please

visit the following web page:




16 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

you don’t want to hear”. Several students mentioned an increased sense of overall confidence. This

is both an internal transformation given their perception of their own expertise, and a sense that the

outside world – their professional environment – is more confident in them given their demonstrated

expertise and relevant qualifications. This sense of confidence relates also to being able to “speak

the language of mediation” i.e. having learnt the most important concepts and theories around peace

mediation, students felt more confident engaging with other mediation practitioners. Finally, several

interviewees also mentioned a change of attitude concerning their orientation towards knowledge

and analysis. They suggested, for example, becoming more knowledge-oriented, strategic (rather

than purely ideological), and more reflective. They implied a newfound understanding of the

importance of preparedness and planning – thinking before acting – and being better able to do so

now that they know where to go to find relevant information and how to absorb it.

4. Better understanding of mediation process design and specific tools such as the “18 Key

Questions for Process Design”. 12

A vast majority of interviewees (13) mentioned an increased capacity to understand and design a

mediation process at the macro level. They emphasized developing their ability to plan and strategize

generally in their work (as elaborated above), as well as seeing the “bigger picture” of a mediation

process specifically. In this regard, several mentioned the “18 key questions” framework as a key

tool they learnt. As one alumni put it: “I continue to appreciate the [18 key] questions a great deal;

they help you think about planning thoroughly”. Several students have even applied this tool in their

own work contexts, for example when designing a mediation process or as a framing for research

in the area of mediation.

5. Improved mediation and negotiation micro-skills and understanding of related concepts.

Over half of the cohort (11) mentioned micro skills as one of the key learnings they got from the

program and many noted having applied them in work or private contexts. Alumni mentioned an

improvement in both mediation and negotiation micro skills, including for example asking good

questions, reframing, listening “with big ears”, articulating interests, anchoring, facilitating

meetings, and understanding the concept of value creation. Several respondents mentioned the

opportunity to practice micro skills through role plays as a challenging (even “painful”) experience

that was, however, very useful. A couple of students also noted the importance of the emotional and

psychological aspects of negotiation and mediation, with one even saying that their key learnings

was that “psychology matters”. One participant stressed the importance of practicing micro skills

in the MAS ETH MPP program, suggesting that he/she “would do this every six months if possible

as you get so little practice otherwise”.

What enabled your key learnings?

We asked alumni to share with us what they think was key in enabling their learning. Responses

were varied and most participants mentioned more than one aspect of the program’s pedagogy.

Some deliberately emphasized the importance of the mix of learning structures as well as the

multidisciplinary nature of the program in this regard. Specifically, respondents emphasized

the importance of the interaction with students and trainers, reading and writing, as well as the

interactive exercises. Several interviewees found the interaction among students and between

students and trainers to be key. This was due to the quality of trainers and students and the real life

experience they brought with them from a vast diversity of regions and perspectives. Alumni also

emphasized the process of reading to their learning. As one interviewee noted: “I still remember

Andy’s (Program Director Prof. Dr. Andreas Wenger) comment on the first day regarding the

importance of reading and his enthusiasm when another trainer mentioned reading and he said

“you see!”. Now, after having gone through the program I understand better what he means and

the real value of reading”. In a similar vein, several alumni mentioned specifically the process of

12 The “18 Key Questions for Process

Design” is a tool developed by MAS

ETH MPP program and incorporated

in Module 4. It is a framework for

making decisions regarding various

elements of mediation process design.

It is structured as a list of 18 key

questions with various sub-questions



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having to write two papers as having been key in forcing them to read and providing them with an

opportunity to delve deeper into specific topics of interest or relevance to their work environment.

Finally, several respondents also emphasized the value of the interactive exercises and simulations,

especially when they were put in the mediator role and forced to respond “on the spot”. They found

this useful for various reasons such as stimulating critical self-reflection, learning to work in a

diverse team, and learning to deal with the stress, frustrations, and intensity of mediation.

What have you transferred to practice?

Alumni were asked whether they have transferred any of their learnings from the MAS ETH MPP into

practice. Their answers revealed three principal ways in which their development has manifested in

practice: applying a new mindset, applying new resources and improved skills, and changes related

to their influence on others (in their teams and institutions).

1. Applying a new thought process and attitude.

Many alumni mentioned applying their new “mediation mindset” within their work or private contexts.

This mindset entailed, for instance, finding new patience, empathy, and understanding, and being

less judgmental. They also mentioned being more confident in general (“I couldn’t do the job without

it [confidence acquired in the MAS ETH MPP]”), partly due to a sense of knowing where to find more

information if needed. Finally, they also mentioned thinking in a more structured and substantiated

rather than intuitive and reactionary way. As one alumni explained: “[I now] think critically about

whether a certain action will actually lead to the desired goal or have the desired impact, or what

impact it will have, how it will influence various positions/interests of parties”.

2. Applying new resources, tools and improved skills.

Not only have alumni changed their internal mindset and attitude, but they also indicate examples

of actual changes in their behavior and practice. Most of all, alumni mentioned utilizing the ACCP

conflict analysis framework and the “18 key questions for mediation process design” tool within

their work contexts. In addition to these, they also indicated using other resources available to them

through the program, for example consulting their notes, readings, peers or trainers with regards to

specific content matters. One student indicated for example using the conflict analysis and religion

handbook13 when analyzing a particular conflict context, while another mentioned having close

consultations with a trainer regarding a particular mediation process. Another mentioned reflecting

on the “greed versus grievance” theoretical debate to help understand a particular context. Finally,

alumni also indicated applying their improved micro skills in their work contexts. For example, when

having to talk to parties one interviewee said he/she now has more “mediative behavior” , while

another indicated how he/she is “always think[s] of Zurich when I do it [preside over sessions]: how

to pick on positive statements and build consensus to move the process forward?”.

3. Application through influence on teams, institutions, and broader mediation community.

Several alumni indicated transferring their learnings into practice through their influence on their

teams, institutions, and general work processes. For example, several alumni mentioned sharing

information, such as readings, tools, and other concepts, with their team members or through

targeted trainings. Others mentioned advancing research within their institutions, either directly

themselves (two alumni published articles related to research they began during their studies), or

by hiring external researchers for specific projects. Finally, the way their teams worked in terms of

improving their reflections and evaluations to make them more structured and systematic.

13 All participants were given a copy

of the 2018 publication “Religion in

Conflict and Peacebuilding: Analysis


18 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

5.2. Learning

Students were asked about the impact of the MAS ETH MPP program on the ways they go about

learning outside the university context. Based on their responses, the program seems to have

influenced their continued learning in three key ways. First, an increased awareness of the relevant

information available and how to access it. Second, being better equipped to continue learning

independently due to stronger analytical skills and critical thinking. Third, an increased value placed

on learning and research thus incorporating reflections and academic research in a more structured

manner in their work context.

1. Increased awareness of the relevant information available and how to access it. One of the key

changes that most students mentioned in this regard is an increased sense of what information

is available to them and where to go to find it when they need it. One student summed it up as

follows: "now I know whom to ask or where to look, both online and by asking trainers/peers/staff"

and another student noted: “a whole new world of knowledge opened up!” Even several students

who mentioned knowing how to do research before joining the program said they left the program

with a new corpus of resources to which they can and do turn to whenever needed. In this regard,

respondents communicated the vital importance of having resources continue to be available to them

as alumni. These include access to the program’s ETH Polybox folder with all program materials

(such as lecture slides and reading lists), their own notebooks with notes from the program, and

the online ETH library.

2. Being better equipped to continue learning independently. For several students – many of which

did not have rigorous research training before joining the program – another significant change

related to the process of learning itself. They mentioned being better equipped to spot relevant

information, becoming more structured and critical thinkers in analyzing this information, and

making sure to take the time to do so in order to make substantiated judgments rather than just

“jumping to conclusions”. For example, one student said he/she “now really digs in, makes links,

compare several scenarios, puts things in perspective, and sees a political event in many different

ways”. A specific example another student mentioned was when a large group of his/her peers

all reacted negatively to a certain report without necessarily reading it. While in the past he/she

may have done the same, in this case he/she wanted to read the full document before coming to a

conclusion, which ended up being much more nuanced, and in some ways even went against the

general view of his/her peers.

In this regard, alumni affirmed that the pedagogical structure and rigor of the program were

especially helpful in enabling them to learn how to learn. One interviewee reflected on the importance

of the program’s high standards: “I didn’t know how good ETH really was before the program and

how much they push students to grow. Without the high demand of the program you wouldn’t push

yourself as much and get high quality learning. Also the high demands give you confidence that you

can do it”. Another respondent mentioned that the way learning in the program itself was structured

gave students a chance to practice how to learn: “How we were taught to learn was very influential:

how to prepare for modules, how to read. The distinctions between mandatory, recommended, and

‘nice to read’ readings… Also the journal was great. Every time I thought ‘Oh, why do I need to do this’,

but then in the end it forces you to reflect back at what you learnt and forward preparing for the next

Module.” Related to this, when asked to describe academia several alumni chose to emphasize its

demanding nature and high standards, using words such as “discipline”, “complicated”, “complex”,

“citations”, “excellence”, and “ensuring certain standards and quality of work”.

3. Increased value placed on learning and research. Finally, several students noted a change in

the way they now value and incorporate structured research and evaluation within their practice. A

couple of students mentioned creating dedicated meetings for reflection within their teams and being


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better able to ask key questions that prompt reflections. Two students have incorporated specific

research projects in their work, hiring scholars, and dedicating time and resources to look into key

questions of interest. For instance, one student mentioned hiring two researchers to look into “the

cost of not talking” in their particular conflict context in the hope of the research supporting the

identification and/or creation of an entry point for conflict resolution efforts.

5.3. Career Path

The alumni interviewed for this tracer study mentioned that the MAS ETH MPP program has had a

positive impact on both their immediate career paths as well as more broadly their motivation to

work in the field of peace mediation. In the pre-interview survey, 80% found the program relevant

to their professional activities with 53% indicating highest possible relevance. As can be seen in

the below graph, the lowest relevance score – given by 20% of respondents – was three out of five.

With regard to the alumni’s career paths, over one third (40%) of the

respondents mentioned the program having directly contributed to them

getting a new job since graduation just a year ago and over two thirds of

the respondents (67%) identified the program as having had generally

a direct impact on their careers, as illustrated in the below figure. For

example, one respondent mentioned that they “would not be in this

position without the program” whereas another student recounted

their experience of being asked about the MAS in what turned out to

be a successful job interview. Since their graduation from the program,

those students who had switched jobs as a result of the program had

transitioned into positions that were more directly related to peace

mediation. Many had worked in relevant positions before, but the MAS

enabled them to take on more thematic positions (e.g., working as a

mediation adviser for a regional organization or moving from a regional

unit to their organization’s mediation support unit) or take on more

responsibilities (e.g., becoming a team leader in their organization’s

mediation unit). A selection of some of the current positions of MAS ETH

MPP alumni are listed in the graph on the following page. Some noted

that going through the program gave them the confidence to seek a

more mediation-specific job.

Overall, how relevant to your professional

activities would you rate the content

of the MAS ETH MPP program?

Not at all


Given that only a year had taken place since the alumni’s graduation from ETH Zurich, this finding

on career paths was not only significant but also slightly unexpected in the sense that direct impact

could be seen so quickly. In addition to those who had switched jobs, there were several respondents

(27%) who felt that the program had provided them with an increased sense of “legitimacy” or

“credibility” in their current jobs. For example, one respondent noted that their credibility in the eyes

of conflict parties with whom they work had increased, while another said that the program had been

“hugely important in terms of legitimization.” Furthermore, among the alumni who felt the program

had not had an impact on their careers, several noted that, while the MAS ETH MPP had not had a

direct impact thus far, it might have a positive effect in the future as they look for new positions. In

other words, it might be “too early to tell” in their cases whether the program would lead to positive

developments in their career paths. This means that over two thirds of the respondents felt the

program had had a direct impact on their careers – be it getting a new job or a sense of increased

legitimacy – already within a year of graduating from ETH Zurich.

20 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

Importantly, all respondents said that they were motivated to work in the field of mediation. Many

noted that the program had had a significant – and positive – impact on their motivation to work as

mediation practitioners. “The program had everything to do with my motivation to work in the field

of mediation in the future,” noted one respondent, while another said “I hope to continue working in

this field, the MAS confirmed this desire…now I know my desire is right.”

A key challenge rising from the interviews with regard to career paths was the disconnect between

a high degree of motivation on the one hand and a scarcity of mediation-related jobs on the other.

Many respondents felt that it was the niche nature of the field of peace mediation that jobs are

relatively scarce, particularly when it comes to formal, high-level, track 1 processes. However,

several alumni were already thinking about creative ways of working in the field of mediation by

transferring their learnt knowledge and skills from the MAS ETH MPP to slightly different areas. Two

important ideas were mentioned in this regard. First, some alumni mentioned that they have already

or they would like to utilize their knowledge and skills in teaching mediation – be it in an academic

setting or a more practice-oriented training. Second, there were several respondents who were in

the process of finding ways to utilize their skills at the local level in community, business, or family

mediation. These respondents felt that engaging in other type of mediation work at the local level

in their countries would enable them to continue transferring the MAS ETH MPP into practice; in

other words, many of the skills and knowledge from the program

are transferable to other fields of mediation as well.

14 Please note that this is not an

exhaustive list but is merely used to

illustrate some of program alumni's


Employment of MAS ETH MPP Alumni14

Career paths were also an area where some respondents felt

that the MAS ETH MPP program could provide more support in

the future. That is, some alumni encouraged the program to think

of ways in which they could help alumni find jobs – or at least

practice – in the field of mediation. Concrete ideas mentioned

were sharing relevant job postings with alumni and working with

the program’s strategic partners to find suitable opportunities

in their institutions. Additionally, some respondents encouraged

the program to look further into the topic of mentoring with a

view to identifying opportunities for students to be mentored by

experienced mediators “out in the real world” either during or

after the program.

Impact of MAS on career

› Senior Mediation Adviser in the United Nations Standby Team

of Senior Mediation Advisers

› Senior Mediation Adviser in a Foreign Ministry

› Team Lead for Mediation in a Foreign Ministry

› Political Affairs Officer in the United Nations Mediation

Support Unit

› Liaison and Coordination Officer in a European Union

Capacity Building Mission

› Legal Officer in a European Unions Capacity Building Mission

› Regional Campaigner for an International Human Rights


› Chief Advisor to Former President

› Mediation Advisor in the European Union External Action Service

› Political Affairs Officer in a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission

› Consultant for a Non-Governemental Organization Member

of the Mediation Support Network

› Director of a Local Non-Governemental Organization focused on

Mediation and Dialogue

40 % Directly linked to finding a new job

27 % No new job, but increased legitimacy in current job

33 % No; too early to tell; maybe in the future

› Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the UN Under-Secretary-

General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

› Lecturer and Trainer in Negotiation


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5.4. Community

Participants in the tracer study were asked whether they see themselves as part of a mediation

community, what defines it if it exists, whether the MAS ETH MPP program influenced their sense of

community, and to elaborate on their relationships with peers, program staff, and trainers in general.

While this is not a learning objective per se of the MAS ETH MPP program, it is one of its broader

goals given the mid-career nature of the program. This is reflected in the program’s deliberate

efforts to create a diverse student cohort and provide participants with opportunities for networking

and relationship building. It is also reflected in students’ motivations to join the program, with over

half (60%) of alumni choosing “networking and building a broader professional network” as one of

the reasons they joined the program.

Responses revealed that the MAS ETH MPP program has contributed to expanding alumni’s

professional networks and creating some meaningful relationship. Alumni mentioned feeling

comfortable reaching out to one another, as well as to trainers, for professional needs (such as

consultations, connections, or training) if those arise, as well as for social interactions (such as when

visiting someone’s country of residence). Several students noted having already done so. While not

all alumni stayed in touch with their peers, most mentioned having some informal interaction with

at least one other graduate since the conclusion of the program. These were mostly their “sparring

partners”.15 They also particularly appreciated the cohort WhatsApp group as a means to stay in


The term “mediation community” is a fuzzy one. Different respondents perceived and defined it in

different ways, primarily going well beyond the MAS ETH MPP program, and perhaps reflecting that

it is still not a fully defined community. While the program seemed to contribute to the expansion of

alumni’s professional and social network, as will be further elaborated below, alumni are divided

in terms of whether or not they feel part of a boarder mediation community beyond the MAS ETH

MPP program. Responses to questions in this regard revealed that feeling part of a mediation

community highly depends on holding mediation-related positions, especially in governmental or

intergovernmental organizations. Those in such positions tend to feel part of a community, while

those not holding such positions tend to feel outside of it. For those who feel part of this “macro-level”

mediation community, the MAS ETH MPP has contributed to that in two key ways. First, by providing

them with qualifications that positioned them well for getting jobs in the field of peace mediation

specifically. Second, by providing them with the confidence, legitimacy, and shared language to

perform well in their positions, engage with others, and thus perceive themselves as part of the

“community”. For those who do not feel part of a mediation community, the MAS THE MPP seemed

to provide a potential way to access this community and stay connected to their peers and the

world of mediation. However, this potential has not yet been fully actualized. Thus, the interviews

revealed a sense of “opportunities still to come” with regards to community building, and the MAS

program was called upon to advance this dimension of the program with future initiatives for alumni

engagement. In the rest of this section we elaborate on the two perspectives with regards to a

mediation community, the social relations developed through the MAS ETH MPP program and what

role the program can have in community building.

Yes, I feel part of a mediation community

Almost half of the interviewees (7) felt part of a mediation community and two additional interviewees

were hesitant but acknowledged a certain membership in a broader community in this field. Alumni

found it hard to define the mediation community. One student defined it based solely in connection

to the MAS program, and another student defined it based on its members having a “likeminded

approach”. All other students defined the community based on its members’ professional association

with mediation-related organizations. For example, people working on mediation in international

institutions (such as UN MSU, AU, EU), mediation desks in foreign ministries, and NGOs that work

15 Sparring partners was a learning

structure initiated in Module 1 in

which each student picked one peer

to be their “sparring partner” for the

entirety of the program. Throughout

the program, students were asked

to check in with their partners at different

moments, on content matters

and more so on personal/professional


22 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

in mediation support (such as members of the MSN) constitute such a community of practice.

Respondents noted “running into” peers, as well as former trainers, in various professional events,

conferences, and mediation related meetings. One alumni expanded the definition of this community

beyond mediation to “people working professionally with conflict” but narrowed its boundaries

based on the type of organizational affiliation: emphasizing the association with a community of

diplomats as compared with those working in NGOs and private institutions. Another respondent was

hesitant to respond: he/she mentioned “grappling” with this question and feeling that the mediation

community is generally missing the “global south”, which was represented in the MAS ETH MPP

program. Among those who feel they belong to a mediation community, many noted turning to their

peers for specific expertise or connections – for example regarding specific context or thematic

expertise (e.g., autonomy arrangements in Zanzibar) – as well as turning to relevant trainers for

professional needs (e.g., training their own staff members, or consulting on specific mediation


It is worth noting that all those who felt part of a mediation community also hold professional

positions that are directly related to mediation. While they represent contexts in both the global North

and South, a majority of them (all but one) work with government officials or inter-governmental

organizations. Therefore, it seems that while the alumni perceive there being a mediation

community to a certain extent, it is heavily defined by its members’ institutional associations and

specific professional positions (rather than for example education, values, geography, etc.) and

tends to be relatively disconnected from grassroots/non-governmental mediation practitioners

and organizations. Indeed, two students who felt they are not part of the mediation community

suggested this is due to their lack of professional engagement with mediation. For example, one

interviewee noted that while feeling their formal education in the MAS ETH MPP legitimized their

association with the field in general, given their “weak or no affiliation to ongoing processes”,

he/she “feel[s] less part of a community”.

Among those who felt they belong to a mediation community, several interviewees found their

participation in the MAS program key in this regard. As one interviewee mentioned: “The program’s

contribution was 99% i.e. 99% of feeling part of the global mediation community is thanks to the MAS”.

A small number of students also associated the MAS ETH MPP – as well as the work of the Mediation

Support Team at the ETH Zurich Center for Security Studies and the Swiss FDFA (e.g., through the

Peace Mediation Course) – with the development of a shared professional language around peace

mediation. As one participant noted:

“There is a language that makes you feel that the other person is your colleague from the same

field as you. You understand the same basic jargon…Understanding of the language gives you a

great sense of belonging to that community. If you don’t understand the language, you feel like

an outsider. If you belong, you feel comfortable to also ask questions.”

A couple of students noted that the MAS ETH MPP program has a crucial role in advocating for such

a shared language as part of the professionalization of peace mediation.

No, I don’t feel part of a mediation community

The other half of the cohort (7) felt they do not belong to a mediation community. A number of

these interviewees mentioned feeling part of other communities that relate to peace mediation – for

example negotiation community, and international/local peace communities. Several alumni felt their

belonging to a mediation community is a “work in progress”, noting in particular recent events that

increased their sense of community and enabled them to interact with their peers. These include the

first MAS ETH MPP Mediation Exchanges16 event in which one alumni was also the key speaker, the

EU Mediation Community of Practice online event organized by an alumnus, and an informal online

group meeting initiated by alumni in the context of the Corona crisis. As one student put it: “Until

today, no. After this afternoon [scheduled Mediation Exchanges event], maybe yes”.

16 Mediation Exchanges is a newly

established (July 2020) format for

alumni engagement. It is a platform

for online substantive conversations

open to MAS students, alumni and the

CSS Mediation Cluster. The events

take place 2-4 times per year via ETH



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As a mirror-image to the group of alumni who felt part of a mediation community and all held

professional positions related directly to mediation, all those who felt they were not part of such a

community also were not working in specific roles or institutions related directly to mediation (with

the exception of one). A couple of alumni reflected on this point exactly arguing that the inwardlooking

nature of the field of mediation is so that when you have a mediation job you are “in” and

when you don’t you are “out”.

Most of those who felt they do not currently belong to a mediation community also expressed a

hope to change that. They – as well as several of those who do feel they belong to a mediation

community – suggested various ways of strengthening the mediation community and specifically the

interaction between MAS ETH MPP alumni. One interviewee mentioned feeling slightly “abandoned”

by the program staff and encouraged more engagement of the program with alumni in a structured

manner. Interviewees encouraged staff members to continue with initiatives such as the Mediation

Exchanges, as well as provide other formats for interactions such as a contact list of both students

and trainers17 online space for discussion; calendar of mediation related events and trainings;

library of resources; and a reunion possibly at the time of the next cohort’s graduation. One student

mentioned the challenge of technology being a barrier to connecting with peers online.

Social relations and importance of “Sparring Partners”

Alumni commented on their informal social relations with peers. Most interviewees stressed the

importance of their joint WhatsApp group as a means of staying in touch with peers. Several alumni

also noted getting in touch with peers if they happen to visit their country of residence or having the

intention to do so if opportunities arise. Furthermore, while not all interviewees felt part of what

they perceived as a “mediation community”, the majority of them mentioned staying in touch on a

personal level with at least one more student and some noted developing lasting friendships during

the program. In most cases (12 out of 18) these overlapped with their “sparring partners” during

the program. This particular learning structure seemed to have left its mark as several students

referred to their peers as “my sparring partner”. The importance of this is worth stressing as those

working in mediation related roles/institutions (and feel part of a mediation community) interact with

one another anyway due to their professional positions. However, the “sparring partners” seemed to

have created a structure for continued contact also with and between students who are not currently

working directly in mediation related positions/institutions, and who might not have otherwise

stayed in touch.

The role of the MAS ETH MPP in community building

It seems fair to conclude that on the macro-level, feeling part of a mediation community depends

mostly on holding relevant institutional roles. What then is or can be the role of the MAS ETH MPP?

From the interviews, we see three ways in which the MAS ETH MPP has and still can influence

alumni’s sense of being part of a mediation community. First, through its rigorous training in peace

mediation, the MAS ETH MPP puts alumni in better positions to be considered for prominent jobs in

the field of mediation, which in turn enable them to access the community. Second, it equips them

with the actual knowledge but also the more general sense of confidence, legitimacy, and shared

language to work and engage with others in this field. Thus, even for those who were already working

in a related job, acquiring the skills and language allows them to more confidently engage with its

network and events and enhances their perception of being part of this community. Finally, the MAS

ETH MPP can improve its group-building components within the program (such as emphasizing team

building and addressing group dynamics), to ensure a more cohesive sense of belonging within the

“micro-level” community around the program itself. The program can also create opportunities for

more structured alumni engagement, maintaining this micro-level community after graduation. This

can both strengthen the sense of belonging for all participants, and, especially for those who are

not currently holding positions related to mediation, provide opportunities for networking, learning,

and access to the broader community of mediation, which as they indicate are otherwise lacking.

17 Given the number of trainers that

were part of the program over the

course of two years, one request in

this regard was to provide alumni

with a comprehensive list of contact

details for both alumni and trainers.

While contact details of trainers were

always provided (with the consent of

the trainer), this was done ad-hoc in

the context of each session and not as

a comprehensive contact list.

24 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

5.5 MAS ETH MPP Program

We asked respondents to evaluate the quality of the MAS ETH MPP program through various

questions in both the survey and interview, and provide us a sense of how they perceive it.

Participants in the study were asked about their satisfaction with the program in general, the relative

strength of its six study blocks, what parts of the program they would recommend to others, as well

as what was missing or not well taught and what they would be interested in learning more about

in the future. Finally, they were asked to describe the program as a dish or meal and explain their


Responses show a generally high level of satisfaction from the program, seeing it as comprehensive

in substance and perspectives, high quality in terms of trainers, and demanding in terms of the

high expectations of students. They also find that the program links theory and practice well, and

has a unique pedagogy. The overall structure and logic of the program makes sense with Modules

1-4 perceived as the strongest of the six. The biggest recommendation for improvement was to

reduce the density of Module 3. In general, the dishes or meals the alumni chose to describe the

program reflect their perception of the program as comprehensive (“very rich”, many ingredients

that fit together”, “makes you full and satisfied”, “only one dish?!”), challenging (“not easy to eat”,

“hard stuff…made simpler” “a bit heavy”, “you need to make an effort”), and overall extremely good

(“scrumptious”, “deluxe”, “tastes great”, “yummy”)! In the next pages, we will provide more details on

the feedback on the alumni's (1) overall satisfaction with the program and its structure, (2) general

perceptions of the program, and (3) proposals for key areas of possible improvement.

1. Overall level of satisfaction

All participants in this study indicated that they were satisfied with the MAS ETH MPP program. In the

pre-interview survey, 100% indicated being either “extremely” or “very” satisfied with the program

(47% and 53% respectively). They also found the program extremely interesting (100%), with a good

environment (93%), good didactics (93%), and good logistical organization (93%) as well as being well

structured (87%) as reflect in the graph on page 11. Finally, most (73%) felt their work environment

at home was suitable for the learning process and, in turn, the MAS ETH MPP program was relevant

to their professional activities (80%).

The high satisfaction from the program was also apparent in the meals alumni picked to describe

the MAS ETH MPP. Interviewees described dishes that are tasty and flavorsome, of high quality and

have strong tastes that leave their mark on the “eater” and are nourishing. A couple of respondents

even chose their favorite local dish to describe the program. Descriptors were for example: “delux…

tasty like hell”; “with a very nice aroma. Before you eat it you already wake up your taste buds. If it

is cooked the Zanzibar way, it has a lot of spices. When you start eating you get the full rich flavor

and realize how tasty it is. It makes you full and satisfied.”

We also asked the students to reflect on the structure and logic of the program as well as the

strength and weakness of specific modules and content blocks. An evaluation of their responses to

various questions in this regard shows that the program’s structure works and makes sense to the

alumni. The sequencing is logical with modules perceived as building on one another to create a

“whole” which might not be clear throughout the program but becomes clear in its entirety at the end.

As one participant noted: “there is a great balance, you just can’t compare the analysis module with

the practice modules but you need them all”. Alumni mentioned in particular the importance of the

modular structure that allows them to return back and forth from Zurich to their work environments.

This was important both in terms of its convenience for mid-career professionals that can continue

working while studying, but also in terms of the learning process itself, providing a structure for

repetitive reflection and application.


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The responses also indicate that no particular module or content block stood out above all others.

However, the first four modules seemed to have left a particularly strong mark on alumni while

Modules 5-6 were mainly mentioned with regards to specific elements within them. For example,

Modules 1-4 (analysis, micro-skills, content, and process design) were all mentioned by numerous

respondents as strong modules, which alumni would recommend to others, while Modules 5 and 6

were mentioned with regard to specific trainers and content blocks rather than the modules in their

entirety. A couple of students remarked specifically on the lack of coherence and internal logic of

these modules (“[Modules 5 and 6] lack a clear theme and are not as tight as others”), however, this

did not seem to significantly hinder the overall learning process.

2. Overall perception of program

a. Comprehensive

Most alumni perceive the program as being very comprehensive. This is both in terms of the

program’s vast coverage of relevant topics and in terms of the diversity of perspectives included.

Alumni perceive the program as covering everything one needs to know as a mediation practitioner,

preparing them well for their professional responsibilities. As one student noted: “It exposes

you to the A-B-C of conflict resolution and mediation.” another noted “it is comprehensive in the

sense of covering everything from very specific elements (e.g., micro skills) to the big picture of

peace processes.” and in a similar vein another student characterized the program as: “[a] great

opportunity to learn everything you need to know in order to perform well in the field of peace

mediation”. As a dish, the program “has everything! It’s something you eat and you are completely

full for two days”. Several students also noted on the comprehensiveness of the program in terms

of the diversity of perspectives it incorporates. This is both in terms of the diversity of backgrounds

and expertise within the student cohort, and amongst trainers. While this was clearly a strength, it

is worth noting that the diversity of the program was also mentioned as an area for improvement,

specifically with regards to including non-Western perspectives and trainers.

The program is therefore generally perceived as having an abundance of “ingredients”, rich in

“flavors” which can barely be described in only one “dish” and which “make you full and satisfied”.

As one student put it: “The most interesting aspect of the program are other students and all the

trainers. As a young professional, you have a huge privilege of learning a wealth of information and

experiences that you would never be able to access separately. The exchanges during the program

are a rare thing and definitely worth your time.” Finally, interviewees emphasized the comprehensive

nature of the program in terms of its holistic and additive nature. Meaning, while made up of many

small parts, it makes sense in its totality. As one put it when comparing the program to Lasagne: “If

you have only one layer it’s not so good, but if you get all the layers the result is delicious”.

The comprehensive nature of the program came through very strongly from the descriptions of

dishes alumni chose: “very rich in ingredients…you can taste very different flavors in one plate”;

“the MAS cannot be just one dish, it is a lot of things to taste and consume”; “has a lot of spices…”;

“has vegetables, meat, soup, spices, yogurt, dry meat – so much in it.”; “it’s a 20-course meal”; “it’s

layered”; “Only one dish?!”; “many ingredients that fit together”; “program with so many different

elements”; “buffet – hot and cold, sweet and sour”; it makes you full and satisfied”; “it has everything!

It’s something you eat and you are completely full for two days.”; “when you combine that diversity

you get the course”; “need to get through it to enjoy it”; “dinner: starter – maybe even a few, main

course – two types, (Modules 4-5) then desert is Module 6”; “If you have only one layer it’s not so

good, but if you get all the layers the result is delicious”.

26 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

b. High Quality

Alumni also perceived the program as being of extremely high quality. This high quality is associated

with ETH Zurich, the quality of the teachers and trainers recruited to the program, and the quality

of the student cohort itself. As one interviewee noted when asked how he/she would describe the

program to others: “…You will be in a beautiful company of great people from different institutions

across the world, who bring extremely rich perspectives and experiences not just about mediation

but life.” The quality was also reflected in alumni’s responses when asked to describe “academia”

in one word; several of them chose descriptors such as “excellence” and “ensure certain standards

and quality of work”. Similarly, when asked to describe of the program as a dish or meal, several

interviewees chose words highlighting the quality of the program, such as “delux”, “has the best of

the best […] in one dish”, and “highest quality with the most incredible ingredients”.

c. Demanding

Interviewees noted that the comprehensiveness and high quality of the program came with high

demands for its participants. The program was very challenging for many, especially being midcareers

some of which had not been in formal studies for a long period of time, who have many

other responsibilities while studying, and who come with very different academic backgrounds

and traditions. Therefore, the comprehensiveness was at times very challenging as, for example,

one interviewee claimed: “it is a lot. Someone who goes to the MAS needs to be prepared for that”

and another argued that one needs to be very motivated to work in mediation to get through the

program as “you need the motivation to suffer through it; it is not enough to be ‘just interested’”.

Several students chose the words “discipline”, “complicated”, “complex”, and “citations” when asked

to describe academia, emphasizing its rigorous and thus demanding nature. While challenging

during their studies, ultimately in retrospect, most alumni considered this a positive attribute of

the program. They noted feeling like it pushed them towards higher quality of learning and a level

of diligence and discipline that is useful and even necessary for their work. One student said she

also appreciated the fact that “the high demands give you confidence that you can do it”. Indeed,

when describing the MAS ETH MPP as a dish or meal, several interviewees described their dishes

as heavy or difficult to eat, requiring effort, but that the effort is ultimately worthwhile. For example,

one alumnus chose to describe the program as crème brûlée: “it’s dense but good. You first need

to make an effort [crack through the top layer] and then you dig deeper into it”.

d. Linking Theory and Practice

Alumni emphasized the success of the program in linking theory to practice. Many respondents

indicated having an increased appreciation for academic work and capacity to turn to it when needed.

Several alumni found the exposure to academia and the vast research available on peace mediation

as their biggest change and key takeaway from the program (see section 5.1 on competence for more

details). Evidence of this can also be found in the number of tools and concepts alumni indicated

using, incorporating or implementing in their work environments. This is partly due to a sense

that the program was generally (albeit not always) successful in translating academia so that it is

relevant to practice. For example, when asked to describe the program to someone else, another

alum mentioned that the biggest selling point for the program is the “design of the course in terms

of combining the latest up to date theories and academic work with practice”.

e. Unique Pedagogy

Several alumni noted the unique pedagogical approach of the MAS ETH MPP. When asked how they

would describe the program to someone that did not know about it, one interviewee said: “one of

the most unique ways of learning as an adult. Practical course approach allows you to learn through

practice. Then when confronted with similar situations you are prepared.” Similarly, participants

mentioned the diversity of teaching tools and the multidisciplinary nature of the program. They

also emphasized its interactive elements, always combining independent work such as readings

with group exercises or simulations. Several interviewees mentioned the latter being key for their


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learning and development with the Burundi exercise in general and Burundi simulation in Module 5

in particular being a particular highlight for some19. While this is perhaps somewhat to be expected

of a group of practitioners, slightly more surprising were the number of students that emphasized

the significance of having to write research papers: grappling with the challenge of understanding

academic texts and with the intense writing process. Once again, the high standards they needed

to uphold in these papers were a demanding but motivating factor, pushing them to grow and excel.

3. What could be improved?

Alumni were asked what the program was missing or included but did not teach well enough. You will

find the seven key recommendations for improvement below. The only recommendation repeated by

a significant number of alumni was to reduce the density of Module 3. All other recommendations

were mentioned be a few alumni each.

a. Reduce the density of the program content and Module 3 in particular. While module 3 was a

highlight for many, it was also evaluated as having been too packed and as the most demanding of

all modules. As one student put it: “Strongest was module 3, although also too heavy – loved it but

intense”. Therefore, many suggested needing more time for this module and noted their interest to go

deeper into the various topics presented in it in the future as well. While this was true for the module

as a whole, the power-sharing and socioeconomic blocks were noted by several participants as in

particular need of improvement, while on the contrary the security study block and its key trainer

were noted by many as a highlight. It should be noted, that the sense of “wanting more” might be

a feature of the type of the module in particular. Each of the topics presented in the module (e.g.,

security, power sharing, justice, socioeconomics) are a field of study in their own right. The framing

for the module however is that mediation practitioners do not need to become experts in these topics,

but need to know enough in order to be able to dig deeper or reach out to experts if needed. This

may create a sense of frustration as extensive areas of knowledge are only briefly touched upon.

The density of Module 3 was particularly challenging, however the compactness of the program

was also a general challenge throughout; participants tended to feel the program was too full and

did not leave enough time for reflection and digestion of the materials, especially before the exam.

b. Incorporate more opportunities for practice especially in “real life” contexts. While generally

alumni felt that there were many opportunities for practice through exercises and simulations, a

few still wished to have more opportunities for internalization of skills. This request was focused

in particular on creating more structured opportunities for “real life” practice or for observing

mediation in practice: “seeing mediators actually mediate”. This could be done for example through

peer-to-peer or mentoring structures. Related to that was the request for better follow up to the

program in general, creating more structured opportunities to “re-digest” what they learned while

on the job and for reflection within practice. It should be noted that one interviewee felt strongly the

opposite, suggesting micro-skills were overemphasized in the program when considering the limited

amount of time peace mediators and diplomats spend at “the actual mediation table”.

c. Make particularly theoretical content knowledge more accessible. Once again, while the majority

of alumni felt that the program was successful in linking theory to practice, several interviewees

noted challenges during specific sessions that were particularly technical in nature in terms of the

academic methods and theories they presented. This was primarily due to the complexity of the

subject matter and presentation methods that were “hard to digest” as one participant explained, as

well as, at times, their lack of coherence with the broader red thread of the program. Efforts should

therefore be made to make these specific sessions more accessible and integrated.

19 The Burundi simulation is an interactive

exercise cutting across the program

modules. It allows students to

practice conflict analysis (Module 1),

develop options on content (Module 3),

design a mediation process (Module

4), and put their learnt knowledge and

skills to practice in an in-depth mediation

role play (Modules 5/6).

28 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

d. Include more non-Western approaches and trainers and better integrate gender into the

curriculum. Several interviewees felt that the program was overemphasizing dominant Western/

white/male perspectives and therefore called for more diversity in terms of trainers and mediation

approaches. Some specific suggestions included incorporating other perspectives such as traditional

mediation, Russian mediation, Asian perspectives on mediation, mediation from the perspective of

specific institutions (such as regional bodies), as well as insights from insider mediators and more

perspectives from negotiators. In this regard, a number of interviewees also emphasized the need

to incorporate gender into the program in a more integrated way and throughout the entire program,

rather than in specific sessions and by specific “gender-experts”. They suggested for example

hearing more on gender from a mediator’s perspective and having a VIP gender expert. Once again,

one interviewee had a rather different perspective, suggesting gender was overemphasized, or

touched upon in irrelevant contexts.

e. Tweak the Ukraine simulation. A small number of interviewees felt Module 6 in general and

the Ukraine simulation in particular needed slight adjustments. For example, they questioned the

effectiveness of taking an ongoing case given the challenge of getting distracted by reality (while

others found the exercise useful precisely for that reason); and suggested changing the way the

role of the lead mediator was set up in comparison with sub-group mediators. It is worth noting

here that while several students mentioned the simulations were significant for their learning, the

Ukraine simulation was rarely mentioned specifically as a meaningful learning experience or key

highlight. Given the very high investment in time and (human and material) resources, this in itself

could be an indication of a need to improve it.

f. Include more inputs on teamwork. Several interviewees noted the importance of teamwork

in mediation and within the program. While some indicated getting a lot out of this aspect of the

program, they felt the MAS ETH MPP staff could have done more to incorporate this topic in a

structured manner within the program, providing more instruction, tools, and focus to it. As one

interviewee mentioned: “team building process was very useful. Learning how to work with different

people in the exercises was very relevant to my work now…It wasn’t something we touched on

directly in the MAS but it just ‘happened’. Maybe you can even do more with it.”

g. Consider including additional topics. Interviewees mentioned various topics which they felt

should have been addressed in the program more thoroughly. These include dealing with “terrorist”

groups, implementation and process design, and perspectives from bargaining theory, contest

theory and international reolations. In the survey, respondents mentioned things they would like

to participate in if they were offered in the future. In this context several respondents noted topics

related to new challenges for mediation such as the cyber realities and power politics/geopolitics,

as well as going deeper into process design related topics such as talks-about-talks, inclusion,

mediation style, high and low powered negotiation and mediation, peace agreement drafting and

generally a "Process Design Volume II."


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6. Annexes

6.1 Tracer Study Consent Form

I hereby consent to take part in the abovementioned MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study. By signing my name

at the bottom of this form, I confirm that my participation is voluntary, I have received necessary

information regarding the tracer study,w and I am aware that I am free to withdraw my participation

or decline to respond at any time during the online survey and interview.

I consent to the following citation rules (please mark the sentence below that applies to you)

❏ I agree to being quoted and identified by name.

❏ I agree to being quoted and identified by name, as long as I can review any direct quote of mine

and make edits were I to find them necessary, before publication.

❏ I agree to being quoted, provided my name is kept anonymous and/or provided I am given a

made-up name (pseudonym).

❏ I agree to the content of this interview being used as background information by the researcher,

but I do not agree to being quoted or referenced in any way in a publication.

Additionally, I consent to the following regarding the recording of the interview

❏ I agree that the interview be recorded and its information kept for research purposes by the

interviewer. I understand that this recording will not be distributed further unless authorized

by me directly.

If you have any concerns about this study or how it is being conducted you can contact the director

of the Master of Advanced Studies in Mediation in Peace Processes at ETH Zürich University,

Prof. Dr. Andreas Wenger: wenger@sipo.gess.ethz.ch, Haldeneggsteig 4, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.

Date: Click or tap to enter a date.

Signature: click or tap to enter a signature.

30 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

6.2 Online Survey

To be answered by MAS ETH MPP cycle 1 students in advance of an interview

Background information

1. Name:

2. What was your relevant education and / or training prior to joining the MAS ETH MPP program?

3. What was your key relevant work experience prior to joining the MAS ETH MPP program?

Please indicate up to three different work experiences.

Work: ………… years of experience …………

Work: ………… years of experience …………

Work: ………… years of experience …………

Work: ………… years of experience …………

4. Why did you want to join the MAS ETH MPP program?

Please mark all the reasons that apply to you.

o Increasing my knowledge about peace mediation

o Improving my mediation practice

o ETH reputation/status

o Finding a job in the field

o Doing a career change

o Publish mediation-related articles, reports, policy papers

o Networking and building a broader professional network

o Having time to reflect on my experience in the field

o Get updated on current academic research in th e field of mediation

o Having a break from my work

o Having fun

o Other: ……………………………………

5. What kind of institutional support did you get for your time in the MAS ETH MPP program, if at all?

Mark all those that apply to you:

o I didn’t get any institutional support

o Unpaid leave to participate in the program

(i.e. employer allowed you to take time off to participate in six modules)

o Paid leave to participate in the program

o Mentoring

o Other: ……………………………………

6. What is your current work position (institution/s and role/s)? ……………………………………

Program evaluation

7. Overall, how satisfied are you with the MAS ETH MPP program?

o Extremely satisfied

o Very satisfied

o So-so

o Not so satisfied

o Not satisfied at all

8. Overall, how relevant to your professional activities would you rate the content of the MAS ETH MPP program

(1 =not relevant; 5 =very relevant)

1 2 3 4 5


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9. Overall, how interesting would you rate the content of the MAS ETH MPP program? (1 = not interesting ; 5 =very interesting)

1 2 3 4 5

10. Overall, how would you rate the structure of the program in terms of its content? (logic of program and sequencing of topics)

(1 = not well structured ; 5 = very well structured)?

1 2 3 4 5

11. Overall, how would you rate the didactics (teaching methods) of the MAS ETH MPP program?

(1 = not good; 5= very good)

1 2 3 4 5

12. Overall, how would you rate the environment of the MAS ETH MPP program?

(1 = not good; 5= very good)

1 2 3 4 5

13. Overall, how would you rate the logistical organization of the program?

(1= not well organizes; 5 = very well organized )

1 2 3 4 5

14. Overall, how suitable was your work environment (off campus) to the MAS ETH MPP learning process?

(1 = not suitable; 5 = very suitable)

1 2 3 4 5

15. Overall, how much did the MAS program advance your competence in terms of the following dimensions

(1 = not at all; 5 = very much)

i. Mediation knowledge 1 2 3 4 5

ii. Mediation skills 1 2 3 4 5

iii. Mediation attitudes 1 2 3 4 5

16. What did you learn and what was missing:

• What was your biggest learning from the MAS ETH MPP program?

• Which sessions (or study blocks/modules) would you recommend to colleagues and why?

• What was missing from the MAS ETH MPP program?

• Which new sessions/study blocks/activities might you attend if they were offered in the future?

17. Key suggestions for improvement and/or and additional comments: ……………………………………

32 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

6.3 Semi-Structured Interview Questions

To be conducted with MAS ETH MPP cycle 1 students

Introduction by interviewee (5-10 min)

• Purpose of study: Improve MAS ETH MPP program via:

❍ Trace student career paths

❍ Relevance of program to student

❍ Impact of program on student

❍ Identification of suitable (or “right types”) of students

❍ Sub goal: Impact of program on professionalization of mediation ➔ broader mediation community,

work institutions etc.

• Setting:

❍ Length of meeting: 60-90 min

❍ Nature of interview: conversational, semi-structured

• Recording & Citation:

❍ Reminder of what the person chose in consent form will record if okay.

❍ Emphasis if anything they want to say is more confidential – just say so.

• Five topics to be covered: the impact of the MAS ETH MPP program on…

1. the advancement of your mediation competence

a. What you learned

b. How you apply it

2. your career path and motivation to work in mediation

3. how you go about learning (finding and applying knowledge) in your practice.

4. mediation community and network

5. how you see the MAS ETH MPP program.


6. if we get to it: Evolution of mediation and key trends

• Any questions before we begin?

Interview questions:

Topic 1: Competence

1. Biggest change in your own words: What is the biggest development (or change) in you that you associated with the

MAS program? / In what ways did you change as a result of participating in the MAS ETH MPP program?

a. Did you change your mind (or assumptions) about anything related to mediation following your experiences in the program?

• What was key in enabling it in your opinion?

b. Given a conflict in your life/work to which you need to respond or help other respond. Would you do anything differently given

your experience in the MAS program?

• If so, what?

c. If you were asked today to support a mediation process in some way, in what role would you feel most comfortable and why?

Has this changed following the MAS?

2. Understanding of program substance in your own words:

a. Describe the MAS ETH MPP program, start to finish, what is the goal of the program?

And how would you explain the logic of the program?

b. What were the most significant things you learned in the MAS ETH MPP program / competencies gained or improved?

(theories/ tools/ frameworks/ practices/ attitudes biggest lessons…)

• How much (or what) was new to you?

• How much (or what) was perhaps not new but you improved on?

• Any specific learnings (concepts/practices) that were particularly useful for you?

(Theories, frameworks, skills, attitudes etc.)

• What are the 1-2 most important lesson/s you take from the MAS ETH MPP program?


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c. What was most difficult to learn or was missing (your “growth edge”) – what do you still feel like you need to develop?

• What was most difficult for you to learn in the MAS?

• What were you missing (or didn’t get enough of)?

• What do you think you still need to further professionalize yourself as a mediation practitioner?

• How are you going about getting it (if at all)?

d. Looking at the six modules of the program, which modules or content blocks do you think were strongest

(and which weakest) and why?

3. How would you evaluate your transfer of learning into practice? (meaning, the application of what you learnt)

a. Did you get any institutional support, e.g., mentoring etc. ?

b. How relevant is the MAS program to your work?

c. What have you already applied or changed in your work, due to your learning in the MAS (if anything)?

• How did applying them make an impact (if at all)?

• How easy/difficult was this process?

d. If you didn’t apply (much) – why not?

4. Has your confidence in mediation practice increased?

e. If so, how much?

f. Did it increase in certain dimensions of mediation practice/research in particular?

5. Looking at the initial learning goals you set for yourself in the pre-program survey , did you achieve them?

Topic 2: Career path and motivation

6. If you think about your “career path” what role does the MAS ETH MPP play in it (if at all)?

(how did it the program influence your career or trajectory)

a. Before MAS: How did you see your career path in mediation at the start of the program?

(in what area of mediation did you see yourself developing/ what kind of institutions were you hoping to work for, etc.)

b. During MAS/Now: Did this change (if so, to what and why)? How did the MAS program influence your career path (if at all)?

i. How relevant is the MAS program’s content to your current employment?

7. How motivated are you to work in the field of mediation? and what role does the MAS ETH MPP program have in that?

(/ how did the program influence your motivation, if at all)?

a. Before MAS: How motivated were you to work in the field of mediation prior to starting the program? (

not very motivated 1 – 10 very motivated)

b. During MAS/Now: Did this change? Did the MAS Program influence your motivation? How motivated are you today?

ii. How so?

c. In the future: Do you see yourself staying (or finding employment) in the field of mediation

(can refer to Module 6 individual papers )?

i. If so, why? (Money, prestige, network/friends, international life conditions, purpose/meaning/world peace,

only thing I know how to do, other…)

ii. In a perfect world, what would be your dream job/position today?

iii. …and in 10 years?

Topic 3: Learning and systematic thinking

8. When you think of your practice at the moment, do you see any impact of being part of the ETH systematic “learning culture”

on it? do you know better “how to learn”?/ How did the way you go about learning within your practice change due to your

participation in the MAS ETH MPP (if at all)? e.g., systematic analysis, combine practice and evaluation; clarity of resources

and methods; introspection, reflective practice, individual or organizational culture of learning; productive relationship with

academia, know how to evaluate information, etc,?

a. Before the MAS program, how did you use to go about learning within your practice (if at all), or inform yourself regarding

conflict and mediation (if at all)? (e.g., academia, professional workshops, colleagues/consultants, news media, other)

b. How did this change (if at all)? How do you go about it now?

i. Where would you go for information or advice on mediation?

ii. How do you solve problems in your current work environment?

iii. Do you have regular reflections or evaluations as part of your work? if so, how so?

iv. Is there a culture of learning in your institution and/or team? If so, how so?

v. If you had to describe academia in 1 word, what would it be?

vi Has your perception of academia changed since the MAS?

34 MAS ETH MPP Tracer Study Report

Topic 4: Mediation community

9. Do you see yourself as part of a mediation community of practice? In what ways or what defines this community?

10. How has the program contributed to that (if at all?)

How did the program impact the creation or strengthening of a mediation community of practice?

This can be in terms of:

a. Is there a shared professional “language” and “culture”? Give examples.

Key actors and events:

Do you feel like you know the landscape of mediation? (e.g., what organizations/institutions are “out there”?

What processes are currently ongoing? What types of activities are being done?

What career paths are possible? What are key debated in the field/academia?)


Are you clear on who is part of the “mediation community” (and who isn’t)?

How would you define its boundaries?


Do you feel like you have a shared language with your MAS peers? How about wider mediation community?


How interested are you in events, conferences, new publications etc., related to mediation?

Do you follow any newsletters/ other sources to seek them out? Would you go?

b. Has your professional network changed (in association with the MAS ETH MPP)? In what ways?

(e.g., strengthened/ diversified / includes practitioners/ policy makers/ researchers/ thematic experts / context experts);

• How many students or other members of MAS (staff/trainers) are you in personal contact with on a regular basis

(*and what is “regular” to you? Twice a year? Once a month? Phone/email/whatsapp?).

• How would you define your relationship with the MAS peers/group?

• Do you feel connected, if so, how?

• In what context would you turn to your MAS peers? (expertise/context knowledge/social/visit in country/other)?

• How would you define your relationship with the MAS trainers?

• Do you feel connected? If so, how?

• In what context would you turn to them?

• How would you define your relationship with the MAS staff?

• Do you feel connected? If so, how?

• In what context would you turn to them?

c. Have your professional institutions changed (in association with the MAS ETH MPP)? In what ways?

• How do you see your impact on the field of mediation?

• Do you see any influence on the institutions you work in or with due to your or others’ participation in the MAS?

• Why kind of impact/change: knowledge/ ways of thinking/ practices/ relationships/ language etc.?

Topic 5: Your perspective on the MAS ETH MPP program

11. If you had to describe the MAS to someone else, how would you describe it? What image/metaphor would you use?

12. If the MAS ETH MPP were a meal/dish, what meal/dish would it be? Explain.

13. Who would you recommend take this program (if at all)?

14. Are there any ideas, tools, practices that you associate specifically with the MAS?

15. What do your colleagues know or think about the MAS?

Topic 6: Evolution of mediation

16. How has mediation practice changed in recent years?

What are some of the most significant contemporary trends in mediation research, policy, and practice?


Tracer Study Report


6.4 MAS ETH MPP Pedagogical Approach

The UN defines mediation 1 as “a specialized activity.”

Such a description embodies the dialectic foundation of

the MAS ETH MPP pedagogical approach: academically

based, and practitioner oriented. The program teaches

key and cutting-edge scholarly and practitioner-based

knowledge on mediation, while preparing for its

application in the field. This means addressing the unique

developmental needs of learners as practitioners and

considering the relevance of the knowledge in both

scholarly and practical terms. As an application of this

grounding principle, the approach emphasizes the

following key pedagogical conditions:

MAS ETH MPP Pedagogical approach

1. The learners: Active participants in the learning processes

a) Learners bring their knowledge to bear – Learners’ preexisting vast, diverse, and rich body of knowledge

is a resource, which they should actively bring into the classroom taking responsibility for their own and

others’ development.

b) Challenging preconceptions – The most difficult part of learning often lies not in the new, but rather in

letting go of the old. Learners should engage in recognizing and challenging their own preconceptions,

and those of their peers, problematizing the familiar or that which is taken for granted.

c) Meta-learning (learning how to learn) – The process of learning itself is an embedded part of the practice

of mediation, requiring the constant transfer of knowledge to engage with the continuously changing

world. Learners must therefore learn how-to-learn, transforming not only ‘what’ they know but also

‘how’ they learn.

2. The program: Engaging theory and practice

a) Providing conditions for experiential interdisciplinary learning – Experiential learning allows learners

to integrate theory and practice: conceptualizing, practicing, reflecting, and re-conceptualizing across

contexts and disciplines. The challenge from a teacher’s perspective is balancing the “real” experiences

with a supportive setting in which learners can make mistakes, reflect, and try again.

b) Providing conditions for social learning – Given the nature of mediation as a practice embedded in, and

dealing with, relationships, the heterogeneous cohort itself becomes a resource for learning, providing

multiple opportunities for cross-contextual exchange and reflection in intentionally mixed groups.

c) Providing conditions for learning both in the classroom and “on the job” – The unique structure of the

program allows learners to remain embedded in their professional settings in between the six intensive

in-person modules at ETH Zurich. This becomes an opportunity for learners to engage with theory and

practice not only in the classroom but in their authentic professional settings as well.

3. The teachers 2 : Holistic approach to learners and learning

a) Addressing the head, heart, and hands – We adhere to the holistic view that learning requires developing

the faculties of the head (cognitive – conceptual analysis and rational judgment), the heart (affective –

attitudes, values and motivations), and the hands (behavioral – skills and techniques).

b) Applying diverse pedagogical methods and tools – Teachers apply a variety of methods and tools

accounting for the variety of peoples’ learning styles. These combine informational, interactive, and

introspective tools including engaging learners with theory, model examples, practice, and reflection.

c) Engaging learners’ existing knowledge – The teachers’ role is to engage learners’ already rich body of

knowledge. This means eliciting their preexisting notions and ideas (rather than solely implanting new

ones), while challenging learners to identify, dispose of, or modify them.


According to the UN Guidance for Effective Mediation, “Mediation is a process whereby a third party assists two or more parties,

with their consent, to prevent, manage or resolve a conflict by helping them to develop mutually acceptable agreements.”


In “Teachers,” we refer to all types of teaching personnel, including lecturers, trainers, facilitators, etc.

MAS ETH Mediation in Peace Processes

ETH Zürich, Haldeneggsteig 4, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland


ETH Zürich

Department of Humanities,

Social and Political Sciences

IFW D-33.1

Haldeneggsteig 4

8092 Zurich



Issued: by MAS ETH Mediation in Peace Processes

Editors: Ben Ezer, Inbal and Eemeli Isoaho

Layout: Print and Publish | ETH Zurich

Copies: 100 Ex.

© ETH Zurich, May 2022

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