Dialogue and Deliberation

Dialogue and Deliberation

For More Information: National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, www.thataway.org

Purpose:
To build and strengthen relationships, bridge gaps, resolve conflicts, generate innovative solutions to problems, inspire collaborative action, give people a voice in governance, and strengthen decision making.

Outcomes:

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Convinces those in power that ordinary people can understand complex issues, grapple with multiple perspectives and choices, and find common ground

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Convinces participants that a diverse group of people can make better decisions on tough issues than interest groups and power holders


When to Use:

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To create clarity/provide group with direction on an issue or situation

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To address contentious issues that attract only argument and debate

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To resolve long-standing conflicts and poor relations

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To inspire people to change, expand, or take time to reflect and heal

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To influence policy

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To empower people to solve complex problems


When Not to Use:

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If there is not an adequately representative group participating

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When the organizing group is wedded to a specific outcome

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When buy-in and accountability cannot be obtained from those implementing the results

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If policy decision needs to be made before deliberative process is complete

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If the initiative is viewed as advocating for a particular group or interest


Number of Participants:
5–5,000

Types of Participants:
All major views/perspectives/roles on the issue at hand

Typical Duration:

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Preparation: 1–6 months

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Process: From a 90-minute forum to a multiyear sustained dialogue

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Follow-up: 1–3 months


Brief Example:
The City of Waterloo Commission on Human Rights organized community-wide “study circles”—multiple small group dialogues held throughout the community culminating in collective action based on common ground.

Historical Context:
David Bohm’s present-day revival—1985. Dialogue was created in indigenous cultures and used for centuries. Deliberation was born when people first developed the ability to consider options rationally. Created by numerous human societies over time.