Community-based learning & participation at work

Do dialogue and civic engagement make a difference?

May 05, 2015

How can dialogue and civic engagement make a difference? This video, from Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies, featuring community members and instructors from their Dialogue and Civic Engagement Certificate, explores the answer.

Some highlights from the video:

"I think that there's a real fatigue in the public sphere for people wanting to participate but going to meetings where they never get asked what their views are—and if they get asked what their views are, no one really seems to take those into account. There's no promise of really fully having some control over your own destiny in a sense."
"The promise of dialogue and engagement is that it gives people an opportunity to really set an agenda or to have some control over the agendas that get set in their work, or in their communities, or in their lives as a whole."

Joanna Ashworth, an instructor in SFU Continuing Studies' Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement.

"To me, dialogue and deliberation seems like one of the best tools we have to get people really working on an issue in a collaborative way, in a learning-oriented way—in a way that doesn't shy away from the difficulties, but instead embraces them and uses them as opportunities for growing."

Susanna Haas Lyons, another instructor in the program.

"In dialogue and civic engagement, what we're saying is, the richest answers to these questions people are posing come when you have a dialogic experience—when you're not responding to one person's position paper and then having a bunch of Q&A, but you're actually in a circle, sharing ideas, and trying to puzzle out a tough question together."

Vince Verlaan, another dialogue expert who teaches in SFU's program.

"I think we're finding more and more civic engagement that's being structured around the principle of, 'If it's about us, don't do it without us.' So these processes really put that principle on the ground."
"I think what dialogue does is to bring people together to co-discover ways forward, to learn together about what we should do next, and to stay in relationship with one another. And when we can do that, I think we have all of the groundings for a sustainable way forward, even if we're heading into places where we don't know where we're going."

Chris Corrigan, who also teaches in SFU's dialogue program.

Learn More

Find out more about SFU Continuing Studies' Dialogue and Civic Engagement Certificate at There is also an information session on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 6:00-7:30pm at SFU Vancouver (1520 Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings). Click here to register