The scene opens on a collegiate Mediation tournament. Students from large, prestigious universities are present. They’ve spent weeks preparing—meticulously researching cases and carefully developing strategies. All are fierce competitors, high-achievers; all are eyeing the first-place trophy.
Enter Principia College’s Mediation team: the mouse that roared.
It’s an age-old story: a David and Goliath encounter where the little guy comes out on top. Big things can come in small packages. And in the 15 years since its inception, Principia College’s Mediation team continues to prove that big wins can come from small liberal arts colleges.
Despite challenging much larger institutions with impressive pedigrees, Principia College is no stranger to the podium.
Principia’s Mediation team recently added two more trophies to its cabinet: First Place in Team Mediation at both the 15th Annual Maharishi International University “Peacemaker” Tournament in Iowa, and the International Intercollegiate Championship Mediation Tournament in Georgia. In Georgia, the team also secured the tournament’s first-ever “threepeat” win, securing first place three years in a row at the championship level. In fact, the team won every tournament they entered in the 2023 calendar year, including the International Law School Championship in Bologna, Italy last March.
Principia College is accustomed to punching above its weight, going head-to-head (and frequently besting) universities such as College of the Holy Cross, University of Central Florida, University of Texas at Dallas, and Boston University, securing 8 wins in the last 5 years.
The record may seem miraculous, but Mediation Team Head Coach Jeff Steele says the team’s success is no surprise. Encouraging the students to live their practice of Christian Science, Dr. Steele says Principia’s tournament success comes from prayer and inspiration. “It's our approach and the deep commitment that many of our students have towards the principles of Christian Science, that is key to our success,” he says. “We tend to come up with answers and solutions that make the judges say, ‘Wow, that was really innovative and creative. How did you come up with that?’ …The students get it, and they get it so quickly.”
Principia’s mediators prepare meticulously and tirelessly, doing what Dr. Steele calls a 360-degree analysis of each case, considering every argument from the perspective of each player at the table. “We train our students to perform at the highest levels, to go out into the world and make a difference for peace,” he says.
“Over the years, we've built a reputation that Principia is a force to be reckoned with, and I think that's really cool,” he continues. “A coach from another school once said, 'Principia College is like the Mouse that Roared.'"
And while winning in the face of such odds certainly feels good, connecting with and supporting competitors perhaps underscores the Principia difference best. While at the international tournament in Georgia, alternate team member and freshman, Shaun Chore, lent his efforts to the National Law Institute of Bangalore, which was missing one of its three members needed to compete. Chore proved an essential role in helping the Bangalore team secure 2nd Place in Team Advocacy and even took 10th place honors in Individual Mediation.
“The Mediation team has been an opportunity for me to learn and grow. It’s given me skills that I use every day,” says Co-Captain and senior, Chris Ajuoga. “It has widened my scope. I’m proud to represent Principia everywhere we go! It’s not easy to compete against Law students, but as [Jeff Steele] always reminds us, man is limitless.”
Looking ahead, the Mediation team plans to compete in the 2024 International Law School Championship Mediation Tournament at Loyola School of Law in Chicago. Principia will be the only undergraduate program present, but the team has proven itself more than ready for the challenge.