This paper revisits the notion of conflict in the community and then discusses a relatively new strategy for dealing with community conflict that is gaining popularity: alternative dispute resolution (ADR), particularly mediation. While ADRs are not entirely new, there has been a renewed interest in them as viable strategies for community development and public policy education. Conflict in communities is ubiquitous and should demand greater attention by rural sociologists, particularly those involved in community development. Environmental mediation is a strategy through which rural sociologists can effectively assist a community in resolving conflict Furthermore, as rural sociologists study and practice environmental mediation, they can provide their colleagues, as well as communities, with a deeper understanding of community conflict and the value of mediation in resolving differences. Since environmental mediation is consistent with principles of good practice in community development, it also is a useful tool for the community development practitioner. Environmental mediation is a viable area for research, teaching, and Extension education. * This article is a revised version of the presidential address delivered at the annual meeting of the Southern Rural Sociological Association, 1995.

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