Program & Content

As decisions are made about content and design for the 2008 NCDD conference, pages will be added to this category so you can know what to expect.

Reports from NCDD 2008: Evaluation Challenge    

At the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, we focused on 5 challenges identified by participants at our past conferences as being vitally important for our field to address. This is one in a series of five posts featuring the final reports from our “challenge leaders.”

Evaluation Challenge: Demonstrating that dialogue and deliberation works

How can we demonstrate to power-holders (public officials, funders, CEOs, etc.) that D&D really works? Evaluation and measurement is a perennial focus of human performance/change interventions. What evaluation tools and related research do we need to develop?

Challenge Leaders:
John Gastil, Communications Professor at the University of Washington
Janette Hartz-Karp, Professor at Curtin Univ. Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute

———-

Report on the Evaluation Challenge:

The most poignant reflection of where the field of deliberative democracy stands in relation to evaluation is that despite this being a specific ‘challenge’ area, there was only one session in the NCDD Conference aimed specifically at evaluation – ‘Evaluating Dialogue and Deliberation: What are we Learning?’ by Miriam Wyman, Jacquie Dale and Natasha Manji. This deficit of specific sessions in evaluation at the NCDD Conference offerings is all the more surprising since as learners, practitioners, public and elected officials and researchers, we all grapple with this issue with regular monotony, knowing that it is pivotal to our practice.

Suffice to say, this challenge is so daunting that few choose to face it head-on. Wyman et al. made this observation when they quoted the cautionary words of the OECD (from a 2006 report): “There is a striking imbalance between time, money and energy that governments in OECD countries invest in engaging citizens and civil society in public decision-making and the amount of attention they pay to evaluating the effectiveness and impact of such efforts.”

The conversations during the Conference appeared to weave into two main streams: the varied reasons people have for doing evaluations and the diverse approaches to evaluation.

(more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content, Reports

Reports from NCDD 2008: Framing Challenge    

At the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, we focused on 5 challenges identified by participants at our past conferences as being vitally important for our field to address. This is one in a series of five posts featuring the final reports from our “challenge leaders.”

Framing Challenge: Framing this work in an accessible way

How can we “frame” (write, talk about, and present) D&D in a more accessible and compelling way, so that people of all income levels, educational levels, and political perspectives are drawn to this work? How can we better describe the features and benefits of D&D and equip our members to effectively deliver that message? Addressing this challenge may contribute greatly to other challenges.

Challenge Leader:
Jacob Hess, Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical-Community Psychology at the University of Illinois

———-

Report on the Framing Challenge:

Jacob Hess provided us with the most in-depth examination of a challenge area at the conference. His sixteen page report is too long to include as a blog post so we are instead providing it as a downloadable PDF file.

Download the Report on Framing Challenge (pdf)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content, Reports

Reports from NCDD 2008: Action & Policy Challenge    

At the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, we focused on 5 challenges identified by participants at our past conferences as being vitally important for our field to address. This is one in a series of five posts featuring the final reports from our “challenge leaders.”

Action & Change Challenge: Strengthening the relationship between D&D and action and policy change.

How can we increase the likelihood that D&D engagement streams of “exploration,” “conflict transformation,” and “collaborative action” will result in community action? How can we increase the likelihood that the “decision making” engagement stream will result in policy change? What can we learn from promising D&D efforts that did not result in the action or policy change desired?

Challenge Leader:
Phil Mitchell, Director of the Greater Seattle Climate Dialogues

———-

Report on the Action & Policy Challenge:

We are here to make the world a better place. Sometimes good process in itself is enough. Usually it is not. Usually good process must contest for power in places where power does not give up without a fight, ie., everywhere. What can we do to maximize the chance that our processes will bear fruit in terms of desired action and policy outcomes?

(more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content, Reports

Reports from NCDD 2008: Inclusion Challenge    

At the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, we focused on 5 challenges identified by participants at our past conferences as being vitally important for our field to address. This is one in a series of five posts featuring the final reports from our “challenge leaders.”

Inclusion Challenge: Walking our talk in terms of bias and inclusion.

What are the most critical issues of inclusion and bias right now in the D&D community and how do we address them? What are the most critical issues related to bias, inclusion, and oppression in the world at large and how can we most effectively address these issues through the use of dialogue and deliberation methods?

Challenge Leader:
Leanne Nurse, Program Analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

—-

Report on the Inclusion Challenge:

Core Questions

1. What are the most critical issues of inclusion and bias right now in our D&D community and how do we address them?

2. What are the most critical issues related to bias, inclusion and oppression in the world at large and how can we most effectively address these issues through the use of dialogue and deliberation methods?

Opening Comments

1. Why is this work so urgent?
– Continued oppression and suffering kills the sprit and the body
– Three poisons of anger, greed and ignorance mangle the genius that is in each of us

2. This moment in history offers us a unique window of opportunity to:
– Have the conversations we don’t like having
– Meet the people who aren’t like us
– Do the work we may have put off

3. How can we do this now when others have tried before us?
– Co-creating the world we promised our grandchildren demands that we both revolt and evolve. If we choose, we can use this weekend to revolt against old patterns and beliefs.
– The daily work of deep self-reflection reminds us that we possess an unlimited store of wisdom and compassion. We can spur our own human evolution despite institutional opposition.

If we are the people we’ve been waiting for, let’s use this time together to make a great leap forward toward a just, sustainable world.

Conference and Workshop Observations and Comments

Comment 1

What was the beginning of NCDD like? Picture NCDD as being conceived using DNA mainly from white, middle-class, well-educated people, and then grown in the Petri dish of American culture, with all the biases inherent in that culture. NCDD grows, and we hear continual laments that we need more diversity. We need to include more people of color, to appeal to more people of different ages, from different social classes, and with different levels of education; people from different religions and from different parts of the political spectrum. So NCDD tries to “bring in” more diversity. In trying to have more people of color, is this too much like a white family adopting some African-American kids?

Maybe what we really need to do is to go back to the original kernel, the original Petri dish and DNA. Maybe we can’t genuinely grow in ways that overcome bias and increase inclusivity unless we are willing to question the original kernel, the first seed at the start of the NCDD, and ask: “What kind of DNA do we need in order for the organization that grows from it to naturally develop diversity, to naturally include inclusivity? What “culture” would the Petri dish need to hold to provide a nurturing environment for the DNA to grow in?

What would growth from a seed that contained the DNA of people of color, working class people, people with less formal education, younger people, conservative people, look like? Do we need to ”start over” in some sense, with a different DNA mix placed in a different “multicultural” medium in the Petri dish, in order to truly address the Bias and Inclusivity Challenge?

(more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content, Reports

Reports from NCDD 2008: Systems Challenge    

At the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, we focused on 5 challenges identified by participants at our past conferences as being vitally important for our field to address. This is one in a series of five posts featuring the final reports from our “challenge leaders.”

Systems Challenge: Making dialogue and deliberation integral to our systems.

Most civic experiments in the last decade have been temporary organizing efforts that don’t lead to structured long-term changes in the way citizens and the system interact. How can we make D&D values and practices integral to government, schools, organizations, etc. so that our methods of involving people, solving problems, and making decisions happen more predictably and naturally?

Challenge Leaders:
Will Friedman, Chief Operating Officer of Public Agenda
Matt Leighninger, Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium

—-

Report on the Systems Challenge:

Although no formal report was submitted, Will and Matt identified the following as common themes that emerged in this challenge area:

  • the recognition that this work is (and must be) action-oriented
  • the recognition that all of us (not just government) can be public problem-solvers (that we need to further develop the concept of policy with a small ‘p’)
  • that these must be non-ideological/neutral arenas
  • that we need to start with increased collaboration among the ‘involvers’
  • that there are traditions to draw on to learn about embedding, such as New England town meetings
  • that there are government agencies that are committed to embedding
  • deliberative practices and are actively working on it

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content, Reports

Report on the Youth Dialogue Project    

YDP group shotDeborah Goldblatt, director of the Youth Dialogue Project (YDP) submitted the following reflections on the YDP at NCDD Austin. Sponsored by the Rockrose Institute, the YDP’s goal is to ensure that the voices of young leaders are included in creative and innovative ways. To this end, the YDP hosted three inter-related sessions at the conference: one workshop for people under 30, one for people over 30, and a trans-generational sub-plenary session. The first session and the sub-plenary were co-designed and hosted by six young leaders from the On the Verge leadership training program in partnership with a team of mentors and elders currently active in the D&D community. The second session was co-designed and hosted by the YDP mentoring team.

NCDD is grateful for the extraordinary leadership of Deborah Goldblatt, the entire Youth Dialogue Project team (including the graphic recorders whose work is featured here), and the Rockrose Institute. It was a pleasure working with you, and we hope to work with you again soon!

What worked:

Young Adult Leadership session and sub-plenary were successful due to:

  1. an intentional invitation from NCDD to include and provide space for younger members to become more visible in the NCDD community.
  2. creating opportunities for younger D&D facilitators to model their skill and generate new ideas.
  3. modelling inter-generational design collaboration for participants.
  4. giving a voice to current concerns within young adult leadership and raising self-reflective questions about inter-generational collaboration.
  5. addressing challenges of bias and inclusion in community, especially NCDD.
  6. the sessions were highly experiential bringing in technology and the arts, which all ages appreciate, and offering young participants tools for engaging other participants.

YDP graphic close-upWhat was learned:

How can we help young people succeed and thrive in the D&D field? It really comes down to creating opportunities and pushing for breakthroughs in schools and colleges through willing, trained faculty. I refuse to believe that time and money are the key obstacles to making that happen, but in my experience of creating the Youth Dialogue Project, it is apparent that those two things stand out as obstacles to progress.

As we (hopefully) are now entering an age of transparency, issues inter-generationally of trust and control may be opened up to where faculty are more willing to relinquish the reins and experiment. Steve Pyser’s post recently on your blog is a perfect example of what we need to model much, much more of to help young people succeed and thrive in this field. Most young people just aren’t aware that D&D is out there. (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content

Phil Mitchell’s WorldChanging.com Post on NCDD 2008    

On October 30th, Phil Mitchell wrote a great post on the WorldChanging.com blog about the 2008 NCDD Conference that included the great photo of a graphic recording created at the conference.  Phil was the leader of our challenge area on moving from D&D to action.

Graphic recordingPhil starts his post with “One of the least talked about but most far-reaching worldchanging innovations is the development of new processes of citizen-centered democracy. These processes (such as citizen assemblies) are not just solutions to specific problems; they hold out the promise of better collective decision-making in general. In this time of ultra-polarized, dysfunctional politics, such a promise is a beacon in a dark night. Yet, because most of us are focused on specific issues rather than on process itself, much of this innovation does not get noticed or used to its full potential.”

Later on in his post, Phil makes this astute comment:

“Indeed, tying dialogue and deliberation to actual political outcomes is perhaps the key challenge the field faces. The wonderful fact is that we know how to create the conditions for healthy dialogue and good collective decision-making. The sobering reality is that actually using good decision-making requires taking power away from those who currently hold it, and that is tangling with gravity.”

Visit www.worldchanging.com/archives/008934.html to see the full post.

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content

Hal Saunders’ Closing Remarks at NCDD Austin    

We asked Harold Saunders, President of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue and long-time supporter of NCDD, to share some of his observations of the conference during the closing session on October 6th. It was our honor to have a respected and beloved elder in our field provide us with some closing comments that help us see the broader picture. Hal has graciously provided us a summary of his closing remarks.

CLOSING REMARKS

Harold H. Saunders
President, International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

This has been a remarkable experience: imaginative, dedicated people committed at the core of who we are to change how human beings relate—one step at a time. One story of achievement after another. I stand in awe of what I have heard and learned.

Thanks to our leaders, we have worked within a broad framework that has enabled us to analyze and name the challenges before us. Having been named, they can be tackled with new energy and with new precision.

AND YET, many of us leave in the same state of agony that we brought with us. We have shared our doubts in so many ways: Do we make a difference? Can we make a difference? How can we make a difference? How can we know we’re making a difference?

Did a few American citizen soldiers at Valley Forge with George Washington make a difference? Yes, for two reasons: they knew they were part of something larger than themselves, and they persevered.

Did Rosa Parks make a difference? Yes, because she acted in the spirit of something larger than herself and because she and others like her persevered.

Can the course of history be changed?

Yes, one step at a time.

The American Revolution changed history, although that wasn’t evident to the citizen soldiers at Valley Forge.

The Civil Rights Movement changed America, although racism still runs deep. (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content

Reflections on “Attracting Conservatives” Workshop    

During the conference, Tim Erickson posted the following reflections on his Politalk blog at http://politalk.org/archives/138. It’s a nice summary of some of the main points made in a great workshop that was offered at the conference, so I thought I’d post it here as well.

Conservatives and Dialogue

One of the themes that has come up at every dialogue and deliberation conference that I’ve attended, is the challenges that we face as a community of attracting conservative viewpoints to our conferences and oftentimes to our dialogues.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop called “Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives.” The workshop was lead by Jacob Hess (Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Illinois) and Rev. Greg Johnson (Pastor and Director of Standing Together).

The Rev. Greg Johnson gave a very personal and inspirational account of his personal relationship with a Mormon professor, Robert Millet. This video captures much of his story.

Jacob Hess talked about his experiences facilitating a class that brings together a specially selected group of students with both liberal and conservative viewpoints, for a series of discussions about “hot” political topics.  He provided a very interesting outline of three “fears” that conservatives bring to the table.

  1. Doesn’t Dialogue assume that all truth is relative? (Fear of having to give up the truth).
  2. Is dialogue part of a larger effort to convince me of something? (Fear of hidden agenda)
  3. Does dialogue mean I’m going to have to compromise my beliefs? (Fear of being changed)

He suggests, that facilitators or organizers wishing to engage conservatives in their dialogue or deliberation events, need to carefully frame and organize their events, taking these fears in mind.

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content

Michael Ostrolenk blogs on Conservatives and Dialogue    

The day after the conference (October 6th), Michael Ostrolenk added a post to his blog about his experiences at the conference.  Michael was one of four panelists in our “conservatives panel” sub-plenary on Saturday – unquestionably one of the best-received programs at the conference.  Here’s an excerpt from his post…

I was invited to the October 2008 NCDD Annual Conference in Austin Texas to participate on a panel entitled “Walking Out Talk: What Our Field Can Learn From Conservatives.”  I joined Grover Norquist (President of Americans for Tax Reform), Pete Peterson (Executive Director of Common Sense California) and Joseph McCormick (Director, Transpartisan Alliance) We spoke about conservatism, conservatives and the various reasons why conservatives may be hesitant to participate in dialogues.  I spoke about various philosophical, psychological, political and social issues related to the topic at hand.  It was a good dialogue and expertly moderated by Dave Joseph (Program Director, Public Conversations Project).  According to the feedback I got and was told to me via others, our panel was a hit, educational and thanks to Grover entertaining and very useful to grist for the dialogue mil.

I know Grover from various center-right activities in DC and Joseph who I worked with at Reuniting America for a few years but got a chance to get to know Pete and Dave while at the conference.  Pete is a communitarian conservative, which I find to be interesting and I will need to learn more about his orientation.  From what I gathered in our brief conversations and the panel itself, I probably would not have too much disagreement with him except for the greater role he would seem to allow for the state in community life.  I have a communitarian streak as long as it voluntary and does not subsume the individual.

We’ll be posting more about this eye-opening panel soon, I promise!

Find similar posts: NCDD2008, Program & Content

© 2003-2010 National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
Learn more about us or explore this site.

###