Most Highly Recommended Resources
These resources are recommended highly by NCDD for many reasons. Some are highly regarded by practitioners or scholars. Some have caused a buzz in the field. Some have proven themselves to be highly effective when put into practice. And some are just the best resources of their kind. As these distinctions are highly subjective, we are open to your feedback and ideas for other resources we should recommend.
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A conference centre located in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue is dedicated to understanding effective communication. Dialogue activities include undergraduate courses, graduate internships, professional development and programs of research into the application of dialogue and of lessons learned from experience.
Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future
Suzanne W. Morse, Pew Partnership for Civic Change. Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Based on the results of more than a decade of research by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, which Morse directs, Smart Communities provides directions for strategic decision-making and outlines the key strategies used by thousands of leaders who have worked to create successful communities. Smart Communities offers leaders the tools they need to create a better future for all the community's citizens. Using illustrative examples from communities around the country (including examples of dialogue and deliberation), Smart Communities shows how these change agents' well-structured decision-making processes can be traced to their effective use of seven key leverage points.
SoL is an intentional learning community composed of organizations, individuals, and local SoL communities around the world. A nonprofit, member-governed corporation, SoL was formed in 1997 to continue the work of MIT's Center for Organizational Learning (1991-1997). Peter Senge, author of the The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, is the founding Chairman of SoL. Senge's work emphasized the importance of dialogue as a tool for creating learning organizations.
Developed by the Society for Philosophical Inquiry, Socrates Cafés take place at coffee houses, libraries, hospices, senior centers, prisons, bookstores, homeless shelters, schools and more. The Socrates Café® method of dialogue (based on Socrates' ways of facilitating learning through continuous questioning) is spontaneous yet rigorous, and inspires participants to articulate and discover their unique philosophical perspectives and worldview. The Cafés encourage participants to become more autonomous thinkers and more engaged and empathetic citizens.
"Socratic Seminar" is perhaps the most widely varied and commonly known name for a class discussion model in which the teacher poses questions concerning a text or idea, and students respond. No individual or organization claims ownership of the model, and most practitioners trace its history to the Platonic Dialogues, in which Socrates engaged his interlocutors in a methodical line of questioning.
Developed in 2003 by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change as a resource for anyone interested in addressing a broad range of community challenges, Solutions for America is an online clearinghouse of information organized into four categories: healthy families and children, thriving neighborhoods, living wage jobs, and viable economies. With brief overviews of each topic backed by relevant statistics and publications this website is a great first-stop resource for anyone interested in social change in their community.
Speaking of Politics: Preparing College Students for Democratic Citizenship through Deliberative Dialogue
Katy J. Harriger and Jill J. McMillan. Kettering Foundation Press, 2007.
This book follows the ?Democracy Fellows? - a group of 30 college students during their four years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina - to discover whether their experiences in learning and practicing deliberation might counteract the alienation from public life that has overtaken so many young Americans today. Their research design included classroom learning and practical experiences in organizing and conducting deliberative forums both on campus and in the Winston-Salem community. Observations gleaned from interviews, focus groups, and surveys of a comparison group and the larger student population indicate that, upon graduation, the Democracy Fellows had the skills and the interests needed to become more involved and responsible citizens than their fellow students.
Study Circles Resource Center, 2004-2006.
This series by journalist Julie Fanselow tells the stories of people who are using study circles to create real change in their communities. These printed 7x10 inch booklets, most of which are less than 10 pages long, are a great example of how dialogue programs can share their successes with decision-makers, citizens and clients. The booklets introduce the struggles and successes of study circles in Montgomery County, MD, Kansas City, KS, Kuna, ID, Springfield, IL and Vermont.
Benjamin R. Barber. University of California Press, 1985.
Since its appearance 20 years ago, Barber's Strong Democracy has been one of the primary standards against which political science thinking and writing is measured. Defined as the participation of all of the people in at least some aspects of self-government at least some of the time, Strong Democracy offers liberal society a new way of thinking about and of practicing democracy.
The Study Circles Resource Center is the primary project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. We help communities develop their own ability to solve problems by bringing lots of people together in dialogue across divides of race, income, age, and political viewpoints. The center works with neighborhoods, cities and towns, regions, and states, paying particular attention to the racial and ethnic dimensions of the problems they address. SCRC's website provides downloadable copies of many of their top-notch dialogue guides and other resources, and SCRC often offers organizing clinics and orientation workshops.
Sandy Heierbacher. The Center for Living Democracy and the Corporation for National Service, 1999.
This survey was conducted by Sandy Heierbacher for the Center for Living Democracy and the Corporation for National Service via telephone between the months of July 1998 and February 1999. Seventy-five leaders of U.S. dialogue organizations and dialogue groups were interviewed, the vast majority of whom primarily organize intergroup dialogues on race. This survey eventually led Sandy to initiate (with others) the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, and to found NCDD, since it was clear that dialogue practitioners were disconnected from one another and largely unaware of the organizations and resources that were available to them.
Powerful yet simple tools for designing online surveys, collecting responses and analyzing the results. Both 'basic' (free) and 'professional' (pretty affordable) subscriptions available.
Sustained Dialogue is a process for transforming and building the relationships that are essential to democratic political and economic practice. SD is not a problem-solving workshop; it is a sustained interaction to transform and build relationships among members of deeply conflicted groups so that they may effectively deal with practical problems. As a process that develops over time through a sequence of meetings, SD seems to move through a series of recognizable phases including a deliberative "scenario-building" stage and an "acting together" stage.
The Center for NonViolent Communication (CNVC).
This is an Nonviolent Communication (NVC) practice and support group. The list's tag line is "Learn, use, practice nonviolent communication. Enhance communication, mediation, and win/win dispute-resolution skills." Familiarity with NVC is requested of all subscribers. Subscribe using the link below.
Dr. Tom W. Smith, General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago.
Taking America's Pulse III (TAP III) is the third major national survey of intergroup relations conducted by The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). The survey provides insight into intergroup relations in contemporary America and how, if at all, attitudes have changed in recent years. Data from TAP III demonstrates that, as American society grows more complex, intergroup relations are increasingly critical to social well-being and national progress.
Kathy Cramer Walsh. University of Chicago Press.
More than 400 communities across the country have used dialogue in an attempt to improve race relations. In this 317-page book, the author takes an eye-opening look at this strategy to reveal the reasons behind the method and the effects it has in the cities and towns that undertake it. With extensive observations of community dialogues, interviews with the discussants, and sophisticated analysis of national data, Walsh shows that while meeting organizers usually aim to establish common ground, participants tend to leave their discussions with a heightened awareness of differences in perspective and experience.
Colleen O'Connor, Denver Post Staff Writer. Denver Post, August 29, 2004.
This long article on political polarization in the U.S., which was published in the Denver Post two months before NCDD?s 2004 conference was held in Denver, quotes several NCDDers. Here is an excerpt from the article: ?Most people in both political parties want the same things: safety, security, beauty, liberty, strong families and healthy neighborhoods. The best way to achieve these goals, experts say, is meaningful conversation about tough issues across the partisan divide.?
Mark Freeman, Producer, Writer, Director and Editor.
The cycle of violence in the Middle East may seem to have no end, but in San Diego Jews and Palestinians have united despite the odds. The documentary film ?Talking Peace? takes viewers inside the Jewish Palestinian Living Room Dialogue and tells a compelling story of two sides coming together through the simple act of listening. In the living room of Jim Rauch, a Jew, and his wife Doris Bittar, an Arab, the stage has been set to create an alternative to living with hatred. In their home, Jews and Palestinians share their stories and their pain governed by only one rule: to truly listen to each other.
Anne Fowler, Nicki Nichols Gamble, Frances X. Hogan, Melissa Kogut, Madeline McCommish, and Barbara Thorp. The Boston Globe, January 28, 2001.
For six years, Boston leaders on both sides of the abortion debate met in secret in an attempt to better understand each other through dialogue facilitated by the Public Conversations Project. This Boston Globe article enabled the group, which met together privately for over 150 hours, to publicly disclose their meetings and the impact those meetings had on them for the first time.
Catherine Orland. Capstone paper for the School for International Training (submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Arts in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations), 2006.
The subtitle of Orland's 76-page thesis is "How One Dialogue and Action Program Helped Teachers Integrate the Competencies of an Effective Multicultural Educator." Study Circles, a dialogue and action process, brings together teachers, parents and students from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to talk about the racial achievement gap. This study asks "How does the experience of participating in Study Circles bring teachers closer to integrating the competencies of the effective multicultural educator?"
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