Local and National Dialogues: What Makes Them Work?

Understand the theory and practice of facilitated dialogue, learn the fundamentals of designing a dialogue process, and examine lessons learned from both community- and national-level dialogue processes with a focus on conflict contexts where divides rooted in identity differences figure prominently.

Instructor: 
Maria Jessop

The use of facilitated dialogue has grown dramatically over the past two decades in the fields of peacebuilding, diplomacy, development and democracy promotion. From the local to the national level, facilitated dialogues have the potential to catalyze communities to transform their societies for the better. Dialogue has the power to help communities to bridge deep social divides, foster citizen participation in addressing societal problems, and help build a culture of democracy. If not designed and implemented expertly, they also have the potential to raise unrealistic expectations, veer hopelessly off course, be co-opted or politicized, lose momentum, be viewed as illegitimate, and fail in reaching their objectives. In this course, participants will understand the theory and practice of facilitated dialogue; learn the fundamentals of designing a dialogue process; and examine lessons learned from both community- and national-level dialogue processes with a focus on conflict contexts where divides rooted in identity differences figure prominently.

Course Requirements: Participants are expected to attend the full five days of the course and should be prepared to actively participate in six to seven two-hour dialogue sessions over the length of the course. The topic of the dialogue will depend on the make-up of the participants but will center around experiences of identity (nationality, profession, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political affiliation, etc.). Participants will be expected to share and reflect on their own experiences of identity in personal and/or professional life.

Comments by course participants:

“The sessions that explained the aspects of dialogue were useful, but the actual process of doing dialogue was priceless.”

“I really understood how to use dialogue and when it is helpful. The tools and exercises were extremely useful.”

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