I have come across many examples of bullying in my academic career and have had to complain about colleagues’ treatment of students on occasions (see V. Gewin Nature 593, 299–301; 2021). At my institution, we have set up a mediation process for such cases that is designed to help both parties.
Mediators must be impartial. We do not know the individuals or anything about the situation until we start the process. The individuals involved take the lead and talk frankly about how the other’s actions have affected them. This is often a surprise to the other party. Airing the issues is helpful, although it can be painful for the accused. We aim for an agreement between them, which they draw up themselves, on how they should interact in future.
However challenging an environment, there is no excuse for bullying. Those who feel bullied should be encouraged to seek mediation before their health is affected or they decide they have no choice but to leave their institution.
Nature 594, 26 (2021)
The author declares no competing interests.