Newswise — A highly-rated TV action series currently running in both Canadian and American markets is receiving high praise not only from critics, but also from an expert on conflict resolution.

Flashpoint is a show about an elite squad of tactical response personnel, called a Strategic Response Unit (SRU). Operating in a large Canadian city, the SRU is called in to handle explosive situations beyond the scope of regular police, such as bomb threats, terrorism and hostage-taking. The SRU is unique in that although it has an array of gargets and powerful armaments at its disposal, it members try negotiation first and try not to use weapons at all.

“The show says something particularly interesting about conflict resolution,” says Jennifer Schulz, a law professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. “Flashpoint is a very different drama.”

Flashpoint is in its third Canadian season and its second in the United States. It recently won a Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series. It airs on CTV in Canada and on CBS in the United States.

Schulz teaches courses on negotiation, mediation and dispute resolution and is also affiliated with a PhD program on peace and conflict studies. She has studied and presented papers at legal conferences on how legal issues and conflict resolution are portrayed in movies and television. One recent paper was about the film Chocolat, in which a woman changes the lives of French villagers through her quiet interventions.

Another TV show she has studied is The Associates, a series about a Canadian law firm that ran for two seasons earlier this decade. It, too, made no attempt to disguise its Canadian origin and also focused on mediation, rather than a confrontational or adversarial approach.

“Distinctly from American programs of the same genre, these shows focus on conflict resolution before litigating and negotiating before shooting,” she explains.

Schulz will be presenting her views on conflict resolution as portrayed in popular culture at a seminar later this week in the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice in St. Paul’s College in Winnipeg, Canada.

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