How Education in Dialogue Shapes our Community

January 14, 2022

From climate change and racism to income inequity and political disengagement, finding solutions to our most pressing issues requires space for everyone to be heard. Dialogue helps create that space.

Through dialogue, seasoned professionals and engaged young people are shaping solutions to society’s complex issues. They are reimagining how we relate to each other and the issues at hand.

Dialogue Bridges Connections

Everyone who enters a space of dialogue holds an important piece of knowledge that, when shared with others, helps produce a stronger collaborative whole. When we hear from a wide range of voices, experiences and perspectives, we gain a shared understanding for positive action. Many groups of people, however, remain under-represented in engagement processes due to systemic barriers and inequities. It’s important to learn and practice how to dismantle those barriers in order to have equitable and productive dialogue.  

Beyond Inclusion: Equity in Public Engagement is a good resource to learn eight principles to supporting the meaningful and equitable inclusion of diverse voices in public engagement. If you’re a university student, you can enroll in our Semester in Dialogue course or CAMP retreat to learn and practice these principles with faculty whose work is deeply rooted in the art of dialogue.

Dialogue Sets Aside Traditional Hierarchical Power

Productive dialogue has no sides. Instead, dialogue is a space of curiosity and openness where we learn from each other, recognizing that everyone is an expert in their own experience. Instead of arguing for what you already know, dialogue is entered into with a spirit of curiosity and an openness to be changed. Instead of a conversation with sides, dialogue has a center.

Semester in Dialogue is designed to mimic this space. It’s an experiential learning cohort outside of the traditional administrative structure where students gain deeper, more individualized learning and mentorship opportunities than are available in the regular classrooms. By dismantling this traditional hierarchy, students are inspired to express their ideas and take action that is meaningful to their values, beliefs and concerns.

Dialogue Creates Space for Innovation

The collaborative nature of dialogue breeds innovation. When we bridge connection and dismantle hierarchy, we have space for dreaming new ideas and access to the tools to act on them. Alumni of our Semester in Dialogue program are prime examples of innovation.

Students in our most recent Semester in Dialogue program are demonstrating innovation by calling for 2022 to be the Year of the Salish Sea. They are bridging connections between organizations who are stewarding the Salish Sea while also calling on local government to recognize the urgency for action.

Summer 2018 alumna, Leah Karlberg, is the founder of Neighbour Lab, “a design and urban planning cooperative building neighbourhood resilience through creativity and dialogue.” They are empowering neighbourhoods to build resiliency through designing “Neighbour Hubs” and facilitating workshops.

We can’t wait to see what future students innovate!

The more we learn and practice dialogue, the more we will co-create lasting change.

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