Dialogue: “a conversation with a center, not sides”
- William Isaacs, 1999
Who better to answer this question than alumni. This passage is taken directly from the public dialogue report from the cohort of Spring 2010.
"Dialogue is intended to be an engaging and inclusive conversation for all participants, and is based on an understanding that everyone in the room is coming from a different background, and will have different interests and views. The goal of dialogue is to create a space where these can be expressed, and where participants can actively listen to each other and learn something new.
This might include, as we’ve learned… some awkward pauses. These breaks in conversation provide room for more soft-spoken participants to take a moment to gather their thoughts and contribute, and also give the whole group time to reflect on what was said.
Dialogue ultimately provides a space to bring together diverse viewpoints, explore these differences, and work towards understanding them better."
The spirit of dialogue is guided by a give and take in the mutual search for meaning:
- Be generous of spirit stay open to new ideas and perspectives
- Be disciplined in your participation: brief, focused, and on topic
- Speak personally: share good stories of living experience rather than set opinions or pet preoccupations
- Listen past defenses, past the familiar, past your certainties
- Inquire into assumptions: ask, e.g., What do you mean? Tell me more … What leads you to believe this … ? How are you personally affected?
The Dialogue Minor Program offers a concentration of courses which enable students to focus on the conceptual framework, technique, and practice of creating, sustaining, and evaluating dialogue. It is open to students with interests in many disciplines, including communication. The program highlights the relationship of dialogue with public issues. Whether or not this relationship takes the form of cooperation, controversy, or confrontation, and whether or not there are already visible forms of negotiation around public issues, the role and effect of dialogue will be thoroughly explored.
Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement
The Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement program offers a training ground for emerging citizen leaders to frame issues, convene dialogue, create civic visions and build collaborative teams and coalitions. In this program, you'll learn to design and implement a range of innovative engagement models that will enhance dialogue in your community or organization. You'll learn concepts, emerging models and best practices that will enhance your ability to facilitate dialogues that foster effective decision-making processes. Examples include planning for land use or service provision, local neighbourhood organizing, and other matters of public interest.
National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
NCDD’s members include over 1,800 practitioners, organizations, researchers, public administrators, activists and students dedicated to solving today’s toughest problems through honest dialogue, quality deliberation and collaborative action. The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation represents a “big tent” under which many approaches and streams of practice in dialogue and deliberation have found much-needed support, ideas, and camaraderie.