From a young age we’re taught to do what we can to get along with others. The difficulty is: many of us don’t know what that realistically looks like once conflict arises. Program Director Dr. Kipi Fleming has found a passion in providing students with the tools and resources needed to interact with others productively. Find out why she calls ACU Online’s Master of Arts in Conflict Management and Resolution (MACMR) “a life-changing educational experience.”
A West Texas native, Dr. Fleming started her journey on campus at ACU while earning her undergraduate degree in elementary education in 1985. After graduating, Kipi used her degree, serving in children’s ministry, teaching first grade and substituting for many years in Texas and Oklahoma public schools at various grade levels. After having three daughters, Fleming returned to ACU, this time virtually, to receive her master’s degree in conflict management and resolution – the very program she presently oversees. She then went on to complete her doctorate in conflict analysis and resolution from Nova Southeastern University in 2015 where she found her passion in marital relations.
In the summer of 2015, Dr. Fleming joined ACU’s faculty and has served as the online Conflict Management program director ever since. “Once I got the degree myself and found out how transformational it could be, I wanted to teach everyone about it because I think each of us can benefit from learning how to effectively manage our relationships,” she said. The program is designed to benefit all industries and go beyond conflict management as a whole by facilitating ways to gain understanding of yourself and others.
The Importance of Intentionality
Having a Christian foundation when it comes to conflict management and resolution has made all the difference for Kipi. Looking back on her time as an ACU student, Fleming learned to appreciate the biblical roots of her education and the community she found both in-person and online. Psalm 34:14 has particularly shaped Kipi’s teaching, and she shares it with her students each term: “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” She explains that “Godly peace” doesn’t happen by accident—we have to actively pursue peace and work for it. Not only does the degree help students individually, but it improves the lives of those they’re interacting with on a daily basis. Dr. Fleming hopes her own desire for peaceful living is influencing her students to do the same and believes students who devote their time to learning how to understand others and themselves will leave the program changed.
From being on campus as a student to working remotely with the online program, Dr. Fleming has been able to see how the university facilitates the same level of community across both educational spaces. She believes it’s the intentionality of faculty and staff that makes ACU stand out from other online schools. “Intentionality has always been a part of ACU’s DNA,” said Kipi, “but as the world as a whole went virtual in the last year, their emphasis on making sure we stay connected has grown.” With the majority of the program’s team of professors and adjuncts teaching remotely, Dr. Fleming found ways to still engage her team members in order to maintain interactions. Outside of talking about assignments, students and teaching, the MACMR faculty hops on a weekly virtual call to talk with one another and share what’s going on in their lives. Kipi reflected on how thankful she’s been to work for a school that encourages its employees to stay engaged with one another and supports them in finding new ways to create community.
Educating Through Experience
Beyond her duties as program director, Dr. Fleming mediates for the Lubbock County Office of Dispute Resolution where she counsels families experiencing divorce. While many people find working with families in divorce mediations to be hard and strenuous, Dr. Fleming believes she is able to make a real difference in teaching each party how to talk to one another in a productive, less damaging way. “At the end of the day, it isn’t just the parents being affected, a lot of the hurt falls on the children,” she explained. Mediation has become a ministry to Kipi, and she finds great joy in helping families navigate through their trials.
These industry experiences are not only impacting her, but her students as well. “I want students to leave my program feeling changed, just like I did when I went through it,” Kipi said. “I’m a teacher at heart and want to do everything possible to make our course rich and robust.” One of the ways Dr. Fleming does this is through the experienced faculty members she employs. She believes students benefit from discussing future scenarios with faculty members who’ve had practice in the fields they are teaching. For students with specialized concentrations, this plays a valuable part in preparing them for their practicum before they complete their master’s degree. “It gives them a broader foundation than just reading the textbook material,” Dr. Fleming expressed. Dr. Fleming makes herself available to students through virtual class time where they can ask questions and discuss how the material relates to the real world. Often, Kipi gives examples from her mediation cases and explains how she’s professionally approached and learned from them. This type of rigorous classroom education paired with practical experience is a hallmark of Dr. Fleming’s teaching, and her excellent scholarship and leadership.
In the future, Dr. Fleming would love to see the program expand by enrolling more students and creating various elective course offerings such as conflict coaching and group facilitation. She is constantly looking for ways to enrich her curriculum, hire the best faculty and make an impact in the lives of her students so they can change the lives of others.
Are you considering getting a degree in conflict management, or interested in ways to implement resolution through your relationships? Learn more about our 3 concentrations and 4 certificate programs at acu.edu/online or contact us at 855-219-7300.