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Comments from Sandy about Issues of Difference at NCDD 2004
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Sandy

Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 148
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:25 pm?? ?Post subject: Comments from Sandy about Issues of Difference at NCDD 2004 Reply with quote??? ???

The conference was pretty much a blur for me, but since we all met in Denver, I have been talking to many of you (conference participants), trying to gain an understanding of what exactly happened at the conference in terms of diversity, and what can be done differently next time to ensure that issues of difference are addressed in a more productive, open and positive way.

This has been a rather confusing time for me. I have heard a lot of great things from conference participants about the learning and networking they experienced in Denver, but I also know that I was not the only one who left the conference feeling a lot less positive than I had hoped to. And I know that the issues of difference that emerged ? but that were not sufficiently addressed ? were the primary cause of that feeling.

I am still learning and still talking to people, but it?s time for me to share with you what I?ve heard and where we (the Core Planning Team) may be going. I want to be as transparent as possible about this. People have told me things that they would not have told others at the conference, and although I won?t use people?s names of course, I think we should all hear about what people experienced and perceived.

There is a broad mix of perspectives about what happened at the conference and why, and about what should have happened. Below I list some of the divergent comments I have been hearing (after reading that part, you may understand why I've been feeling a bit confused). After that, since many people did not hear about the specifics at the conference and felt out-of the-loop because of it, I list all of the specific incidents that were brought to our attention ? and that I can remember. If you know of another instance, let me know about it and I?ll add it. You may be able to attribute these instances to a workshop you attended or heard about, but I think we can and should examine these things pretty openly ? especially now that a wide variety of perspectives are available for everyone to see.

Next I list some general things that we can improve upon next time; this includes some background you may not know about some of the things we did do. And I end with several concrete ideas about changes/additions for the next conference. These are things that have been very well received so far by the planning team and others.

There is a lot here, but it?s a complicated issue. I hope you take the time to read all of it, and then to hit the ?post reply? button and let us know what you think. What did we miss? What do you think of our ideas for next time? What do you disagree with, and why? Of course, you can always email me at if you don?t feel comfortable posting your thoughts on this ? although I hope many of you will take the risk.


Here are some of the rather divergent comments I heard at and since the conference:

Some people felt that there wasn?t enough of an emphasis put on diversity issues at the conference. Others felt that there was too much of an emphasis on diversity; they felt that every time they turned around, diversity issues were being brought up.

Some people felt that ?isms were everywhere? (racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc.). Others felt that they did not witness or experience any diversity-related problems and weren?t sure what was going on for others. Because of this, some felt in the dark and frustrated, while others suspected that people were overreacting.

Some felt that the conference community and the D&D community desperately needed to deal with their diversity issues, and that these issues were not being confronted directly enough at the conference. Others felt that the processes we put into place (the listeners, etc.) went overboard and that some people were too confrontational ? especially in the workshops. Some even nicknamed the Diversity Team?s Listeners as ?the Diversity Cops.?

Some felt that many more problems, conflicts, etc. emerged at this conference than should have. Others felt that in an environment where people feel okay speaking up, more things are just naturally brought up.

Some people felt that lecture-style workshops were inappropriate for this conference, and tried to encourage such workshops to include more participation and discussion. Others felt that didactic workshops meet some people?s needs quite well, and are okay to offer as choices alongside more participatory workshops. They felt that there was a high level of resistance and intolerance toward people who may have a more traditional model of communicating knowledge.

Some felt that is was difficult to participate fully in the conference when they were faced with issues of racism, classism, sexism, etc. Others felt that several people came to the conference with a mandate to bring up diversity issues and concerns wherever and whenever possible, and those people withdrew from the conference almost immediately.

Some felt that diversity is the single most important issue that can be addressed in any D&D gathering. Others felt that although diversity is vital to this work, the conference was not meant to focus primarily on diversity issues.

Some people felt that we should have stopped everything at the conference and dealt with the diversity issues and concerns that were emerging with the whole group. Others felt that to do that would have been disastrous for the conference, the community, and the organization. Planning Team members felt that we had designed a conference that allows for participants to bring up (during Playback Theatre) and take action on (during Open Space) whatever issues, conflicts, concerns and needs remain for them on the last day of the conference ? and throughout the conference in the Integration Groups.


Issues/concerns/instances that were brought to our attention at the conference:

Young people felt marginalized at the conference because the vast majority of workshops, plenaries, etc. were geared towards people who are experienced in and knowledgeable about dialogue & deliberation.

A couple of workshops were so didactic (expert panels, etc.) that participants were frustrated that they could not participate more actively.

Conversely, some conference participants were so wedded to dialogue and participation that they rejected more traditional ways of communicating even though those methods have their place (as in an expert panel).

In a couple of workshops, men spoke more frequently and for longer periods of time than women, even though there were more women than men at the conference. During one workshop, this concern was brought up and ended up changing the focus of the last 45 minutes of the workshop. Despite this, many people left this workshop upset. The person who brought up the concern and others who supported him felt unheard and felt as if their concerns weren?t acknowledged, and the presenter felt accused and attacked, and didn?t feel safe speaking about his perspective on the issue.

During the plenary session with the reflective panel of key leaders (3 men, 2 women), the men all chose to stand during their brief talk, while the women chose to remain seated. Being seated was the expectation, but the stage was low and it was much easier to see the speakers from the back of the room when they stood. (This particular instance was talked about A LOT.)

The reflective panel consisted of 5 white people and no people of color. This was actually less of an issue than we expected it to be; we hoped that the reality that all of the prominent figureheads in this field are white people would lead to some productive discussion about how we can cultivate more leaders of color in our community ? but this didn?t seem to happen. People focused more on who stood and who sat than on the racial makeup of the panel.

Conservatives felt marginalized throughout the conference because people assumed everyone around them was progressive.

There were not nearly enough workshops focused on diversity issues and power issues.

There were not enough workshops geared towards beginners in dialogue & deliberation, and it was not easy to tell which workshops would be appropriate for beginners.

In one workshop that focused on an important diversity-related issue, the workshop was derailed because of a participant accusing the presenters of having a victim mentality, and the presenters choosing to address this comment at length.

Lower income people were marginalized when announcements were made that volunteers were needed for certain tasks, and scholarship recipients were especially encouraged to step up. (Almost all scholarship recipients indicated on their applications that they would be happy to volunteer at the conference as needed.)


Things we can do better next time:

We can provide more opportunities throughout the conference that are similar to Playback Theatre and Open Space, which were both held on the last day of the conference. People needed to voice concerns, desires, learnings, etc. throughout the conference, and we didn?t give them the opportunity to be heard by the entire group until the third day of the gathering. In addition, people need the opportunity to use their bodies as well as their minds and mouths, and arts-based plenaries can provide that.

We can jointly establish ground rules that enable concerns about difference to be brought up in an effective way. Sometimes people voiced diversity-related concerns in a rather non-dialogic manner that felt very confrontational to the person who was being spoken to. In addition to establishing ground rules for all conference participants, members of the conference planning team can be prepared to not only use dialogic processes to deal with issues, but also a dialogic tone to introduce these issues.

Although we emailed all workshop presenters about the conflict resolution processes that would be available to them and all other conference participants, none of them chose to address things that happened in their workshops by having a facilitated dialogue outside of their session. Many seemed to never have read that email. We will have to make sure that workshop leaders are better prepared to address issues and conflicts that arise in their sessions.

Similarly, although we announced in detail the three conflict resolution processes and described them in the conference handbook, people only utilized the Listeners, who were available in a highly trafficked room. We will need to find ways of reminding people that these processes are available to them throughout the conference.

The Listeners who volunteered to assist the Diversity Team at the conference did a wonderful job during the times that they were scheduled to be available to hear people?s concerns. Outside of those scheduled times, it was unclear to some Listeners what their role should be. Listeners who brought up or discussed diversity concerns during workshops were perceived as acting in some kind of official capacity, when they were actually just acting as individuals who have a high level of awareness of these issues. We should prepare Listeners more next time.

We can be more open and transparent with our hopes, intentions, etc. It was hard to know how to acknowledge the lack of diversity in our reflective panel without making our panelists uncomfortable. Our panelists were not paid, and it was an honor to have them in this role. But we had agonized about the lack of racial diversity of the panel during the planning process, and we should have found a way to encourage conference participants to think about ways we can cultivate leaders of color.

We can respond faster to differences as they arise. After the first male panelist stood up, we could have encouraged all of the panelists to stand if they would prefer to do that ? or we could have asked the audience if they can see better if the panelists stand.

We may be able to address things more directly and effectively by focusing on generalities. We addressed the concerns of the conservatives who felt marginalized by reminding people during a plenary session that not everyone at the conference is progressive, and that jokes at the expense of conservatives are inappropriate. We hesitated to do that with some other issues because they involved specific individuals who would realize that if an announcement was made.

Although people had twice as much time in between scheduled sessions as they did at the 2002 conference, there was still not nearly enough free time for people to unwind, take breaks, meet with each other, etc. The conference felt hectic and over-structured to many, and conflicts and issues can be handled a lot more effectively when people are not feeling overwhelmed and stressed. People (including conference organizers!) also need time to sit back and think about what they?ve been experiencing in order to integrate their learning and consider successful courses of action to take.


Changes/additions we are considering for the next conference:

Opening Plenary to Generate Ground Rules for the Conference

We are thinking about beginning the 2006 NCDD conference with a highly participatory plenary session that will have all conference participants, in small groups, discussing instances when they have felt unsafe in groups ? and instances in which they have felt respected, welcomed and comfortable saying whatever they want to say. We would have people think about the elements that made them feel safe, and we would use this discussion to create ground rules for the conference that we can all embrace.

We feel that this kind of activity would accomplish many things:

1. It would get people actively participating right away.
2. It would get people talking about issues of diversity, difference and inclusion right away, without pressuring people to solve huge problems in one sitting.
3. It would create ground rules that people would have ownership in, and that people would be more likely to remember and adhere to throughout the conference.
4. It would model a large-group dialogic AND deliberative process.
5. It would set the stage for openness about issues of difference that would hopefully be modeled throughout the conference.


Planning Team Members Serving as Helpers in Workshops

We are considering having a member of the conference planning team present during each of the concurrent workshops. The team member would have multiple roles. They would make sure there is a note-taker and that everyone has an evaluation form. They would also well-versed in the conflict resolution procedures that are available so that if a conflict arises, there is someone in the room who can facilitate a brief discussion, make suggestions (?Why don?t we pause for a few moments after asking a question of the group so people have ample time to formulate a response??) and, if necessary, schedule a facilitated discussion outside of the workshop with the parties involved so the workshop can continue AND the issue can be addressed.

This person?s role would not be to call attention to un-P.C. comments or to start a long discussion herself, but to help make sure that all parties? needs are met when an issue arises.


Schedule Indicating Which Workshops are Suitable for Beginners

On the session leaders? applications this year, we asked people to indicate whether their workshop would be most appropriate for beginners to D&D, people who have some experience in D&D or D&D experts. Almost all checked the ?all levels? option.

Next time, we will ask the question ?Is your workshop suitable for people who are new to dialogue & deliberation??, and we will include some kind of symbol to indicate that a session is okay for beginners in the workshop schedule.


Workshop and Liaison Specifically for Beginners

As early as possible on the first day of the conference we will offer a workshop that is geared specifically to those who are new to the field. The workshop will provide an overview of the field and the leading practices, models, etc. It will also introduce the people who attend the conference to one or two Newbie Liaisons who they will be encouraged to approach whenever they have a question, need an introduction or just need some support.

Since we plan to develop a mentor program for beginners to the D&D community, by 2006 we should also be able to incorporate a mentor-mentee meeting or event into the conference.


Workshops Clearly Labeled According to Level of ?Audience? Participation

Some people were surprised that there were a few workshops during which researchers presented papers, and a few that consisted primarily of expert panels. Some people were dissatisfied because some of the more participatory workshops did not uphold dialogic principles (such as allowing everyone equal air time).

We are considering having some kind of system to indicate in the workshop schedule whether a workshop is primarily an actual dialogue session, a working session, a didactic session, or some combination of these. That way people can know what to expect, and can attend the workshops that best meet their needs and interests.


Thanks for reading all of this! Please take the time to post a reply and let the planning team and your fellow conference participants know what YOU think about all of this.

Sandy


Last edited by Sandy on Tue Feb 22, 2005 1:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Briand

Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 31
Location: Denver, Colorado

PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:04 pm?? ?Post subject: Public speech acts and D&D Reply with quote??? ???

It seems to me that, in democratic public life (i.e., in the space outside the realm of family and friends), there are multiple forms of speech that, depending on the circumstances, can be regarded as legitimate, appropriate, suitable, or even necessary. Presumably, most of us are disposed to the view that (on both ethical and practical grounds) people's "speech of first resort" should always be dialogical (and/or deliberative). Of course, most of us probably also realize that, in some situations, one's initial efforts to interact with others in a dialogical and/or deliberative manner cannot or should not be sustained. Thus, for example, during the civil rights era in the 1960s there were times and places in which D&/orD was either unworkable or inappropriate. In those times and places, speech we might characterize as "protest" speech (i.e., speech marked by legal and/or moral invocation, exhortation, or criticism) had to take precedence over D&D.

This example puts me in mind of the late Christopher Lasch's observation that the civil rights movement would not have succeeded to the extent it did in the absence of a general societal consensus, to which the movement appealed, concerning moral values such as equality, justice, and freedom. Although the quest begun by the civil rights movement has not ended (because its aims have not been fully realized), such moral consensus as existed in the beginning has been replaced by fragmentation and reaction, both of which have been growing for two or even three decades. We can no longer presume that our appeals, invocations, criticisms, and exhortations will have the overall positive impact we might expect and hope they will have.

In our contemporary moral universe, marked as it is by unprecedented diversity, we are in effect "back at square one," or nearly so. In this normative (evaluative) "state of nature" ("original position," "pre-ideal speech situation," etc.--choose your own metaphor), it seems to me that only D&/orD speech stands a chance of moving us closer to the kind of public world to which most of us presumably aspire, one characterized by fairness, justice, mutual respect, caring and concern, etc. As Bill Ury might remind us, we are more likely to make progress in the direction of our aspirations by being "tough on the problem" and "easy on the people" than vice versa.

If we could presume the existence of a substantial normative consensus among members of the NCDD, then when we interact, whether online or face-to-face, as at the conference in Denver, we might be able to dispense with a commitment to making D&D our speech of first resort, at least with each other. I'm afraid, though, that, whatever the commonalities shared by the Coalition's members, the diversity of outlook that is such a notable feature of the "outside world" exists in substantial degree within the membership. Insofar as we wish to expand, or even just maintain, the big umbrella or tent that NCDD is to include more and more folks who, inevitably, will be less and less like ourselves (not just politically but also in their priorities, philosophies, temperaments, personalities, etc.), I think we're going to have to make a sustained effort to interact consistently in a D&/orD fashion. This conclusion holds a fortiori with regard to persons and groups who are skeptical about D&D or even hostile to it.

In sum, my own sense, for what it's worth, is that the only sort of speech we should engage in,at this point in time--even among ourselves--is speech of the D&D sort. Moreover, I suspect that we would do better to confine the subjects and topics of our interactions to matters having to do with understanding and promoting D&D itself. That would mean checking our personal substantive moral and political views at the door and not using the NCDD as a public space or arena for the consideration of issues to which those views are relevant.

I welcome any (D&D) responses that will help us work together to clarify, resolve, or come to terms with the questions raised by participants' experiences at the conference.

Thank you.

Michael
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tomatlee

Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2005 9:19 pm?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote??? ???

From a collective intelligence perspective, the most important thing here is not that we "get it right" but that collective learning happens. Where we start is not nearly as important as how well we progress, noticing what happens as we go.

This issue - like many issues - is highly complex, with troubling trade-offs. Letting "diversity"* eclipse D&D could destroy our fledgling efforts to come together as a community of practice. (I came to the NCDD 2004 conference from the NW Social Forum, a conference that was cancelled 9 days before it was to happen, because of "diversity" conflicts.) Letting ignorance and privilege allow diversity issues to be totally marginalized will take the heart out of what D&D stands for. It is hard. We can only take a solid position on one side of this dilemma by ignoring the very real trade-offs which concern the other side(s).

I honor Sandy's (and others') efforts to "hold" this issue with sensitivity for all viewpoints. Sandy's caring (desire to have it all worked out) makes her feel "confused", when in fact she is holding what Bill Ury calls "the third side" - the viewpoint of the larger community which seeks a settlement that is right for all the parties and the community, itself. Part of holding the thirdside position involves granting legitimacy to the views and feelings of both/all opponents as legitimate within their diverse frames of reference (i.e., not taking sides). Sandy and others on the planning team are doing this admirably and all of us concerned about this issue would do well to notice the open, humble, determinedly caring attitude they are (authentically) modeling.

I think the approaches being planned will likely have a very positive impact. I think the initial plenary idea is brilliant, and that Bill Ury's guideline (noted by Michael) to be "tough on the problem" and "easy on the people" is probably a key.

But, again, in my view, the most important thing is being alert to what happens, and learning from and responding to that (as is being well done this time around). The chances are that new dimensions of the issue will surface in practice, just as new dimensions surface during processes like dynamic facilitation. Note how many unexpected dimensions of the issue surfaced during the 2004 conference!

(The only thing that concerns me in applying my "collective learning" framework to this situation is the apparent lack participation in this exploration. It is probably insufficient to have only the organizers and a few upset partisans involved in this learning process. This reflects a larger question about how NCDD as a whole, in all its dimensions, can evoke greater participation from its members in collective learning and co-creation of the field and its shared resources.)

Regarding the lack of time - I found it intense - both thrilling and problematic. I most noticed it at lunch, which is traditionally free time for networking or taking a break. As valuable as the integration groups were, mine could not get very deep until the very end, due to the fact that we were still getting to know each other. All things considered, I would probably return to making lunch free time. And I find myself wondering what a variant of open space would look like for the entire conference. What would be lost and what gained? One thing gained would be the opportunity for sessions that reflect on what happened in earlier days.

-----
* I put "diversity" in quotes because certain oppression-related forms of diversity have colonized the word, making this realm hard to talk about clearly. The fact is there are many forms of diversity, each offering different challenges and opportunities (see http://co-intelligence.org/diversity.html ), and losing sight of that can undermine our attempts at high-quality D&D. That said, it is totally understandable why identities that have been historically oppressed would demand to be respected, and it is vital for the health of D&D as a field and a movement to hear and respond to that demand. In between these two truths lies our challenge.
_________________
Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute
co-intelligence.org, taoofdemocracy.com
The Tao of Democracy
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minoakhtar

Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 7
Location: NY metro area

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 10:41 am?? ?Post subject: My experience Reply with quote??? ???

I apologize for this late entry, but as I said elsewhere I am finally done with my graduate program, and I can now pick up where I left off here and in other favourite places.

I thought it would add to our "learning" (as Tom points out) for me to share my experience of the conference. I could be considered a minority as an Asian now American Muslim, or I could be considered a non-minority because I am Asian. I do not know. Also I know there are peoples who have been historically wronged, and more important the wrongs have yet to be acknowledged and addressed (such as slavery reparations in the US- in the Pakistan it would be the crimes committed by our army against innocent Bangladeshis - also fellow Muslims- during the 1971 war with India; so each nation has its blemishes and crimes to atone for). I don't know how I am digressing into political context while discussing diversity...maybe it is because I did have an opportunity to express the political and cultural oppression that I as an American Muslim feel in today's atmosphere. It was a very moving experience for me, and also cathartic. I wanted to speak and got a chance.

However, I do have some ideas for future conferences that I think will add to the richness of the experience and at the same time allow for expressions of all the diverse experiences.

- I think we need to use multiple ways of knowing (e.g. the theatre was at the end of the conference) throughout the conference, and Sandy, you mentioned that already above...if more people had a chance to express their experience, we would generate more understanding and compassion throughout the conference.

- We could use a Graffiti board, rather than just listeners to encourage people to speak anonymously about whatever issue they want others to see and feel. Adn then the Graffiti board(s) could be revisited at key checkpoints in the conference (maybe before the daily plenaries or such a collective time).

I am looking at diversity as an issue of "having one's voice heard", and I don't know if that captures the full scope of the concerns that arose last year. But if we remember to continue to make room for "all voices" we'll have an even richer conference next year.

Finally, I thought the conference organizers did an extraordinary job of building in all kinds of mechanisms and variety to make the conference responsive and stimulating. Thank you so much!
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Sandy

Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 148
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:09 pm?? ?Post subject: Suggested Changes/Additions for NCDD 2006 (Final Version) Reply with quote??? ???

Suggested Changes/Additions for NCDD 2006 (Final Version)

I thought I had posted these final diversity-related changes/additions before, but I just noticed that wasn't the case. After working with the core 2004 conference planning team and the Inclusion Group that formed on the last day of the conference (and continues to meet monthly via conference call), the following suggested changes/additions for the 2006 conference were developed...


Opening Plenary to Examine Ground Rules for the Conference

We are thinking about beginning the 2006 NCDD conference with a highly participatory plenary session that will have all conference participants, in small groups, examine the agreements (ground rules) we‚?€?™re proposing for the event, discuss their own hopes for the conference, and explore whether the agreements will support what they want to experience. Participants will also have the chance to explore what might be difficult about keeping these agreements, or what might be difficult about instances in which someone else isn‚?€?™t keeping them (and ideas/protocol for handling agreements that aren‚?€?™t kept). Participants would have the opportunity to revisit this in other plenary sessions held later in the conference.

We feel that this kind of activity would accomplish many things:

1. It would get people actively participating right away.
2. It would get people talking about issues of diversity, difference and inclusion right away, without pressuring people to solve huge problems in one sitting.
3. It would ensure that people feel a sense of ownership of and commitment to the ground rules, and that they are more likely to remember and adhere to them throughout the conference.
4. It would model a large-group dialogue process.
5. It would set the stage for openness about issues of difference that would hopefully be modeled throughout the conference.

Note for 2006 Design Team: How do we make sure that the concerns and learnings about diversity and inclusion that emerged at the last conference are brought up during this plenary?


Planning Team Members Serving as Helpers in Workshops

We are considering having a member of the conference planning team present during each of the concurrent workshops. The team member would have multiple roles. They would make sure there is a note-taker and that everyone has an evaluation form. They would also be well-versed in the conflict resolution procedures that are available so that if a conflict arises, there is someone in the room who can facilitate a brief discussion, make suggestions (‚?€?œWhy don‚?€?™t we pause for a few moments after asking a question of the group so people have ample time to formulate a response?‚?€?) and, if necessary, schedule a facilitated discussion outside of the workshop with the parties involved so the workshop can continue AND the issue can be addressed.

This person‚?€?™s role would not be to call attention to un-P.C. comments or to start a long discussion herself, but to help make sure that all parties‚?€?™ needs are met when an issue arises. They would provide support for the facilitator while serving as a process person for the participants.

During a joint orientation for session leaders and team ‚?€?œresource people,‚?€? we would give session leaders the opportunity to talk through their anxieties about having a resource person in the room, and give them the opportunity to reach agreements with their resource person about how issues that come up may be handled. Resource people would receive additional training prior to the conference.

During the opening plenary session, conference participants will be made aware of the resource people and what their role is during the workshops.

Planning team members who participate in this way will meet throughout the conference to debrief and provide mutual support, and will complete feedback forms to help us determine the overall atmosphere at the conference in terms of inclusion.


Schedule Indicating Which Workshops are Suitable for Beginners

On the session leaders‚?€?™ applications this year, we asked people to indicate whether their workshop would be most appropriate for beginners to D&D, people who have some experience in D&D or D&D experts. Almost all checked the ‚?€?œall levels‚?€? option.

Next time, we will ask the question ‚?€?œIs your workshop suitable for people who are new to dialogue & deliberation?‚?€?, and we will include some kind of symbol to indicate that a session is okay for beginners in the workshop schedule.


Workshop and Liaison Specifically for Beginners

As early as possible on the first day of the conference we will offer a workshop that is geared specifically to those who are new to the field. The workshop will provide an overview of the field and the leading practices, models, etc. It will also introduce the people who attend the conference to one or two Newbie Liaisons who they will be encouraged to approach whenever they have a question, need an introduction or just need some support.

In addition to this ‚?€?œbeginner‚?€?™s workshop,‚?€? we will provide an orientation for people who are new to the field, or just new to NCDD‚?€?™s conferences. The orientation may take place via conference call before the conference, and will provide an overview of the conference they‚?€?™re about to experience and how it has developed out of the past conferences, tips for getting the most they can out of the conference, etc.

Since we plan to develop a mentor program for beginners to the D&D community, by 2006 we should also be able to incorporate a mentor-mentee meeting or event into the conference as well.


Workshops Clearly Labeled According to Level of ‚?€?œAudience‚?€? Participation

Some people were surprised that there were a few workshops during which researchers presented papers, and a few that consisted primarily of expert panels. Some people were dissatisfied because some of the more participatory workshops did not uphold dialogic principles (such as allowing everyone equal air time).

We are considering having some kind of system to indicate in the workshop schedule whether a workshop is primarily an actual dialogue session, a working session, a didactic session, or some combination of these. That way people can know what to expect, and can attend the workshops that best meet their needs and interests.

We will encourage conference participants to gain an understanding of their own style of learning before they arrive at the event, but we will also encourage them to be tolerant of a variety of styles of teaching and learning that will be represented at the conference.
_________________
Sandy Heierbacher
Convenor, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)
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