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A snapshot from one of the large-group sessions at the 2002 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation.

Have we missed a key term?? Let us know below.


Agents are those in a given society who are in positions of more power and privilege than others, whether they want this or not. "Agents are members of dominant social groups privileged by birth or acquisition who knowingly or unknowingly exploit and reap unfair advantage over members of target groups." (From Adams, et. al. Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice text, pg. 20)

Alternative Dispute Resolution
ADR refers to any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom. ADR typically includes arbitration, mediation, early neutral evaluation and conciliation. (Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute,

Appreciative Inquiry
Appreciative Inquiry is about the co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives "life" to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. (Appreciative Inquiry Commons, Appreciative Inquiry is characterized by its 1) abandonment of "problem talk," 2) focus on narrative exploration, 3) emphasis on positive explorations of the past, 4) the collaborative construction of alternative futures, and 5) the reconstruction of identities and relationships. (The Taos Institute,

Arts-Based Civic Dialogue
In arts-based civic dialogue, the artistic process and/or art/humanities presentation provides a key focus or catalyst for public dialogue on a civic issue. Opportunities for dialogue are embedded in or connected to the arts experience. Arts-based civic dialogue may draw upon any of the arts and humanities disciplines and the spectrum of community-based, experimental, mainstream, popular, and other art forms. It may be undertaken by individual artists and artist companies, community-based arts and cultural organizations, and major cultural institutions, utilizing a wide range of artistic practice and dialogic methods. (The Animating Democracy Initiative of Americans for the Arts,

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Bohm Dialogue
Physicist David Bohm observed that both quantum mechanics and mystical traditions suggest that our beliefs shape our realities. He further postulated that thought is largely a collective phenomenon, made possible only through culture and communication. Human conversations arise out of and influence an ocean of cultural and transpersonal meanings in which we live our lives, and this process he called dialogue. Most conversations, of course, lack the fluid, deeply connected quality suggested by this oceanic metaphor. They are more like ping-pong games, with participants hitting their very solid ideas and well-defended positions back and forth. Such conversations are properly called discussions. Dialogue, in contrast, involves joining our thinking and feeling into a shared pool of meaning which continually flows and evolves, carrying us all into new, deeper levels of understanding none of us could have foreseen. Through dialogue "a new kind of mind begins to come into being," observed Bohm, "based on the development of common meaning... People are no longer primarily in opposition, nor can they be said to be interacting, rather they are participating in this pool of common meaning, which is capable of constant development and change." (

"Shifts of mind and heart" that occur when human beings are engaged in open-ended dialogue and inquiry. (Rosa Zubizarreta, Co-Intelligence Institute,

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Candidate Evaluation Panel
A one-time citizen deliberative council that interviews and evaluates candidates for public office and reports its findings to the broader population from which it was selected. Examples include Ned Crosby's Citizen Election Forums for governors (see definition) and John Gastil's citizen panels for legislative candidates and all other leading positions.

Choice Work
"Choice work" is a term used by the Kettering Foundation and ViewpointLearning to refer to the weighing of costs and consequences of various courses of action in a group deliberation process in order for participants to make sound decisions about critical issues. Citizens have an undelegable responsibility to make choices about how to solve problems because government alone cannot solve them all. Highly deliberative, choice work emphasizes the need to do the hard work of recognizing that a choice has to be made, that consequences have to be weighed and trade-offs balanced.

Citizen Consensus Council
Serving as a microcosm of the larger population, participants in a citizen consensus council deliberate in order to reach agreement about issues of common concern. Usually a group of 12-24 diverse citizens selected at random from (or to be demographically representative of) their community, a citizen consensus council deliberates about issues concerning the population from which it was selected, and is professionally facilitated to a consensus about how to address those issues. Its final statement is released both to appropriate authorities and to the larger population it represents, usually through the media. Councils usually disband after reaching consensus, just as a jury does when its work is done. (

Citizen Deliberative Councils
CDCs are temporary groups of 10-50 citizens whose diversity approximates - or serves to symbolize - the diversity of the community or society from which they were drawn. Convened for a defined series of sessions, a CDC deliberates on general public concerns or a specific public issue, using dialogue to reach understandings that it shares with authorities, the press and the public - and then disbands. Models currently in use include citizens' juries, Danish-style consensus conferences, and German-style planning cells (

Citizen Election Forums
A form of candidate evaluation panel advocated by Ned Crosby to judge candidates for governor. Three separate randomly selected citizen panels, each focusing on one major issue that they've studied, would interview and evaluate candidates for governor about their issue, in consultation with a larger group of about 400-600 randomly selected voters. They would then broadcast their findings to the people of the state through TV, Internet and voter guides mailed to each voter. (

Citizen Initiative Review
The use of citizen deliberative councils to review ballot initiatives before they reach the ballot. Well deliberated, highly publicized citizen judgments would reduce the influence of money and special-interest PR on the initiative process. CIRs are being organized at the state level by Citizens' Jury founder Ned Crosby ( and at the national level by Senator Mike Gravel's National Initiative for Democracy (

Citizen Panels
A proposed all-purpose citizen deliberative council - a group of 50 citizens chosen at random to research, deliberate and advise the public on a public issue, a set of candidates, a ballot initiative, government performance or any other specific subject the public wants investigated. Their super-majority findings and recommendations would be publicized, often through novel means like printing a panel's ratings of candidates directly on the ballot. (John Gastil, By Popular Demand)

Citizen Politics

An approach to governance that stresses the role of ordinary people in making public decisions and solving public problems in everyday environments like neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, and places of employment. From this perspective, politics is not the sole province of elected officials nor is it limited to the sphere of formal government. The practice of citizen politics both demands and develops the capacity of ordinary people to exercise responsible, collective, public leadership. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

The Citizens Amendment
The Citizens Amendment is an application of the Wisdom Council to the United States and, in some degree, to the world. It is low risk but with extremely high benefit potential, promising to change our way of talking, thinking and deciding issues as a system. The process and benefits are described in the book "Society's Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People." (Jim Rough & Associates, Inc.,

Citizens Jury
A temporary group of 12 to 24 citizens chosen by stratified random sampling to deliberate on a well-defined public issue. Overseen by a committee of diverse partisan authorities, they study briefing materials, consult experts in private sessions, consider options, and craft and vote on their final recommendations, which are delivered to the convening authority and sometimes the press. (

Civic Dialogue
Dialogue in which people participate in public discussion about civic issues, policies, or decisions of consequence to their lives, communities, and society. Meaningful dialogue is intentional and purposeful. Dialogue organizers have a sense of what difference they hope to make through civic dialogue and participants are informed about why the dialogue is taking place and what may result. The focus of civic dialogue is not about the process of dialogue itself. Nor is its intent solely therapeutic or to nurture personal growth. Rather, civic dialogue addresses a matter of civic importance to the dialogue participants. Civic dialogue works toward common understanding in an open-ended discussion. It engages multiple perspectives on an issue, including potentially conflicting and unpopular ones, rather than promoting a single point of view.

Civic Engagement

Involvement in public life and activities, from voting to community service. Engaging in deliberative dialogue in order to recommend or cause policy changes to decision makers is a form of civic engagement.

Civil Society

That sphere of voluntary associations and informal net works in which individuals and groups engage in activities of public consequence. It is distinguished from the public activities of government because it is voluntary, and from the private activities of markets because it seeks common ground and public goods. It is often described as the "third sector." For democratic societies, it provides an essential link between citizens and the state. Its fundamental appeal since its origin in the Scottish Enlightenment is its attempt to synthesize public and private good. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

The term "co-intelligence" refers to a shared, integrated form of intelligence that we find in and around us when we're most vibrantly alive. It is also found in cultures that sustain themselves harmoniously with nature and neighbor. (from the Co-Intelligence Institute,

Collective Inquiry
A thread of dialogic practice which emphasizes that dialogue contributes to collective thought and learning by encouraging the group to attend collectively, to learn and watch for and experience its own tacit (previously undiscussed) process in action. Once noted and discussed, new ways of thinking can occur.


The term commonwealth typically has two definitions?—one prescriptive and one descriptive. The prescriptive definition suggests a "self-governing community of equals concerned about the general welfare?—a republican or democratic government, where citizens remained active throughout the year." The descriptive definition refers to the basic resources and public goods of a community over which citizens assume responsibility and authority. (Harry Boyte, CommonWealth: A Return to Citizen Politics, 1989)


Communitarianism emerged in the 1980s as a response to the limits of liberal theory and practice. Its dominant themes are that individual rights need to be balanced with social responsibilities, and that autonomous selves do not exist in isolation, but are shaped by the values and culture of communities. Unless we begin to redress the balance toward the pole of community, communitarians believe, our society will continue to become normless, self-centered, and driven by special interests and power seeking. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

Community-Generated Wisdom
The deeper insight and better solutions that arise in a community from high quality dialogue among diverse perspectives seeking shared understanding and greater possibilities for their shared life. The wisdom derives from the diversity itself which, in the context of real dialogue, expands the perspective of all involved, and increases the creative resources available, generating more comprehensive, life affirming solutions and directions. Community-generated wisdom tends to be appropriate, useful and compelling to a particular community at a particular time, compared with the more eternal wisdom of, for example, spiritual traditions.

An ongoing situation that is based on deep-seated differences of values, ideologies, and goals. The differences are hard to resolve because they reflect the core values of the disputants. The parties may not be influenced by facts and may not want to examine trade-off options.

Conflict Transformation
A thread of dialogic practice that helps people to transform destructive conflicts by addressing underlying needs and concerns, building sustainable relationships, and changing the contexts and conditions that foster violence.

Consensus Building
Refers to a range of processes used to foster dialogue, clarify areas of agreement and disagreement, and resolve controversial issues.

Consensus Conference (Danish Model)
A temporary group of 12-18 citizens selected from a volunteer pool to be demographically representative, who deliberate on a public issue, usually technology-related. Overseen by a committee of diverse partisan authorities, they study briefing materials, cross-examine experts in public forums, and craft consensus findings and recommendations, which are delivered to concerned public officials at a public press conference. (

Consensus Democracy

Consensus democracy reformulates how local democracy operates in the 21st Century. The basic principles of consensus democracy recognize the need for new institutional ways that allow all citizens to have access to direct control of the decision making process. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

Consensus Organizing
Consensus organizing draws upon people's creativity and initiative to fashion innovative solutions to community problems. As developed by the Consensus Organizing Institute , the model stresses comprehensive strategies for bringing people together and providing them with the tools necessary to achieve tangible reforms. Central to the approach is the use of relationships?—including relationships that defy stereotypes?—as vitally important vehicles for advancing community agendas. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

Conversation Café
A Conversation Café is a one-and-a-half hour hosted conversation, held in a public setting like a café, where anyone is welcome to join. A simple format helps people feel at ease and gives everyone who wants it a chance to speak. At Conversation Cafés, everyone is "the talk show"?—and it's also fine for people to simply listen. Conversation Cafés are not instead of action. They are before action?—a place to gather your thoughts, find your natural allies, discover your blind spots and open your heart to the heart of "the other." (

A different kind of consensus, which is not achieved through any kind of negotiation or bargaining. Instead, co-sensing happens as we develop a "shared sensing" of the larger picture that includes the fullness of all of the diverse perspectives within in. (Rosa Zubizarreta, Co-Intelligence Institute,

Critical Consciousness
A term used in Paulo Freire's work that suggests that education is the path to permanent liberation. The first stage is that by which people become aware (conscientized) of their oppression and through praxis transform that state. The second stage builds upon the first and is a permanent process of liberating cultural action. As Paulo Freire said, "before learning anything, a person must first read his/her world."

Critical Pedagogy
Critical pedagogy is a prism that reflects the complexities of the interactions between teaching and learning. The way of thinking about, negotiating, and transforming the relationship among classroom teaching, the production of knowledge, and the institutional structures of the school. (Joan Wink, Critical Pedagogy, Notes form the Real World, 2000)

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Deliberation is an approach to decision-making in which individuals enter a conversation and experience a change in their opinions and preferences as a result of critical thinking, the consideration of relevant factual information from multiple points of view, and the opportunity to engage issues emotionally from their experience-base. (From, a product of Taking Democracy to Scale, a May 2002 national conference on democratic deliberation.)? Click here for more definitions of deliberation and public deliberation.

Deliberative Democracy
Deliberative democracy rests on the core notion of citizens and their representatives deliberating about public problems and solutions under conditions that are conducive to reasoned reflection and refined public judgment; a mutual willingness to understand the values, perspectives, and interests of others; and the possibility of reframing their interests and perspectives in light of a joint search for common interests and mutually acceptable solutions. (From the Civic Practices Network, Deliberative Democracy is ?“Decision making by discussion among free and equal citizens?…. The idea that democracy revolves around the transformation rather than simply the aggregation of preferences.?” (Jon Elster, Deliberative Democracy. 1998, Cambridge University Press.)

Deliberative Dialogue

The process of dialogue, as it is usually understood, can bring many benefits to civic life ?– an orientation toward constructive communication, the dispelling of stereotypes, honesty in relaying ideas, and the intention to listen to and understand the other. A related process, deliberation, brings a different benefit ?– the use of critical thinking and reasoned argument as a way for citizens to make decisions on public policy. Deliberative dialogue combines these two processes in order to create mutual understanding, build relationships, solve public problems, address policy issues, and to connect personal concerns with public concerns. (Adapted from "Deliberative Dialogue to Expand Civic Engagement," by Martha McCoy and Patrick Scully of the Study Circles Resource Center, in the Summer 2002 National Civic Review.)


?“Dialogue means we sit and talk with each other, especially those with whom we may think we have the greatest differences. However, talking together all too often means debating, discussing with a view to convincing the other, arguing for our point of view, examining pro?’s and con?’s. In dialogue, the intention is not to advocate but to inquire; not to argue but to explore; not to convince but to discover.?” (Louise Diamond, Ph.D., The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, ? Click here for many more great definitions of dialogue.

Dialogue Mapping
The process of visually recording and posting all of the various ideas, perspectives, concerns and questions that arise in a dialogue as they emerge. This process helps participants continue to reflect on the "larger picture" that is emerging through the contributions of all of the various participants. It can be done in a low-tech manner, with chart paper and markers, or using high-tech equipment. (Rosa Zubizarreta, Co-Intelligence Institute,

Discourses are shared, structured ways of speaking, thinking, interpreting and representing things in the world.

Differences related to a specific problem that can be examined in terms of facts, trade-offs, benefits and costs. Often those who believe that they are engaged in a deep-seated conflict are not and their dispute can be resolved by collaborative problem solving.

Dynamic Facilitation
Dynamic Facilitation is a way to help people address important issues in the spirit of dialogue. Consensus happens via breakthroughs (shifts of mind and heart) more than logic, negotiation or control. The role of the facilitator is to help the group be creative, from which lots of good things happen, like rapid consensus, the growth of understanding, a sense of community, and personal transformation. (Jim Rough & Associates, Inc.,

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Environmental Equity / Environmental Justice
Equal protection from environmental hazards for individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. This applies to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, and implies that no population of people should be forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of negative environmental impacts of pollution or environmental hazard due to a lack of political or economic strength levels. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

Environmental Justice Collaborative Model
A mechanism for enabling communities and associated stakeholders to constructively address complex and long-standing issues concerning environmental and public health hazards and other related issues. The model is characterized by use of multi-stakeholder collaborative partnerships and a commitment by participating federal agencies to better coordinate with each other and make available their resources and expertise in order to serve as effective partners in these collaborative processes. (Eric Marsh, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

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Fishbowl Method
In a fishbowl, a few participants or session leaders begin seated in a small inward-facing circle, while the others sit in a larger circle observing their discussion. After everyone in the circle has a chance to talk, the people in the inner circle are usually replaced by participants that were seated in the outer circle who would like to talk about the issue at hand.

Future Search
A strategic planning process used world-wide in diverse cultures to achieve shared goals and fast action, future search leads to cooperative planning that lasts for years. Future search is a planning meeting that helps people transform their capability for action very quickly. The meeting is task-focused. It brings together 60 to 80 people in one room or hundreds in parallel rooms. Future search brings people from all walks of life into the same conversation - those with resources, expertise, formal authority and need. They meet for 16 hours spread across three days. People tell stories about their past, present and desired future. Through dialogue they discover their common ground. Only then do they make concrete action plans. The meeting design comes from theories and principles tested in many cultures for the past 50 years. It relies on mutual learning among stakeholders as a catalyst for voluntary action and follow-up. (

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Ground Rules

Also known as ?‘agreements?’ or ?‘guidelines,?’ ground rules are guidelines for discussion that participants agree to try to abide by during a dialogic or deliberative process. Ground rules are meant create a safe space for all participants. These may be presented by the facilitator and then added to by participants, or the participants may come up with them themselves. Common ground rules are ?“use ?‘I?’ statements,?” ?“practice active listening,?” ?“respect confidentiality,?” and ?“try not to interrupt.?”

The activity of shaping the collective affairs and allocating the shared resources of an organization, community or society with a special focus on the process of decision-making. It includes the official activities of government, unofficial activities of the population and their various voluntary associations and, especially, the interactions between the government and those affected by its decisions.

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Interest Group Pluralism
According to interest group pluralism, the [governmental] agency is essentially a broker, or harmonizer, of the many relevant interests and perspectives on problems within its jurisdiction, though it has a particular obligation to seek out underrepresented interests and further the general 'public interest' in its decisions. But interest group pluralism has recently attracted two challengers. One, the public choice school, which takes IGP quite literally and views the agency's role as essentially that of a market in which various interest groups compete for favorable action. The other, civic republicanism, largely rejects interest group pluralism and advocates administrative action that is guided by the agency's informed vision of the common good, following deliberation with interested parties in which they are encouraged to conform their particular interests to common goals. (from Beyond the Usual Suspects: The Use of Citizens Advisory Boards in Environmental Decisionmaking by John Applegate. Available at /ilj/v73/no3/applegate.html)

Intragroup Dialogue
Sustained, structured interaction within a single identity group for the purpose of learning more about that group. (University of Michigan IGRCC,

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Large Systems
The term 'large system' implies a number of people that is too large to be accommodated by the dialogue setting (room, chairs, etc). This would make the dialogue setting (room, circle, etc) the defining characteristic of a 'large system'. If by 'dialogue,' one is referring simply to a meaningful conversation, a 'large system' is 'a social network that one can communicate throughout.' (Dennis Sandow, the Society for Organizational Learning,

Life-Alienated Communication
Judgments, criticisms, diagnosis and interpretations of others are all alienated expressions of our needs. When we express ourselves through these forms others are likely to hear criticism and invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack. If we are wishing for a compassionate response from others, it is self-defeating to express our needs by interpreting or diagnosing their behavior. (The Center for Nonviolent Communication,

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Matching Groups
Cultural or other social groups represented in balance proportions in order to create an 'ideal' multicultural environment. (InterRelations Collaborative,

Negotiation with the assistance of an impartial person with no stake in the issues in dispute. Negotiation, broadly defined, is common in all aspects of our lives and for all kinds of disagreements, large and small. However, negotiations are often difficult to organize and conduct successfully. As a result, mediators increasingly have been called upon to help parties convene negotiations, to prevent impasse during the negotiations, or to assist parties to continue when their discussions have broken down.

Multicultural Laboratory
An artificial environment reflecting the diversity of the school or community as fully and 'inclusively' as possible. (InterRelations Collaborative,

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National Initiative for Democracy
See Citizen Initiative Review.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
NVC is a specific approach to communicating - thinking, speaking and listening - which guides us in transforming old, habitual patterns of relating into new, compassionate ways of acting, expressing ourselves and hearing others. It is founded on language and communication skills which step outside of judgment, criticism, fear, guilt, and blame, and enable people to connect with the needs in themselves and others in ways that inspire a compassionate response. Through the NVC model of communication, relationships, be they intimate or international in scope, become a dance between honest and clear expression and respectful empathic attention. (The Center for Nonviolent Communication,

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Open Space Technology
Open Space Technology was created in the mid-1980s by organizational consultant Harrison Owen. Open Space conferences have no keynote speakers, no pre-announced schedules of workshops, no panel discussions, no organizational booths. Instead, anyone who wants to initiate a discussion or activity, writes it down on a large sheet of paper in big letters and then stands up and announces it to the group. After selecting one of the many pre-established times and places, they post their proposed workshop on a wall. When everyone who wants to has announced and posted their initial offerings, it is time for "the village marketplace": Participants mill around the wall, putting together their personal schedules for the remainder of the conference. The first meetings begin immediately.

Organizational Learning
How a group of people collectively enhance their capacities to produce the outcome they really wanted to produce. That's what we want to point to with the term 'organizational learning'. (Peter Senge)

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Peace Building
A thread of dialogic practice that recognizes that the peace process requires more than official negotiations and where people in the public arena build "constructive relationships in a civil society not just negotiating, signing, ratifying a formal agreement." Dialogue in the public arena focuses primarily on changing human relationships. ( Harold Saunders in Managing Global Chaos)

The art, science, and way of teaching. (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed.)

Planning Cells (German Model)
A set of temporary panels containing about 25 randomly selected citizens each, convened simultaneously in different locations to consider the same public issue. They study the issue, interview experts and each come up with recommendations which are collected, compared and then compiled into one "citizen report" that is cleared through the participants before being delivered to the convener and the media.

Process/Content Outline
A fourteen-week dialogue curriculum used by the University of Michigan's Intergroup Relations Program. This agenda describes session goals as well as exercises and discussion questions to catalyze dialogue. It is a process that encompasses four stages: Creating a shared meaning of dialogue; Identity, social relations, and conflict; Issues of Social Justice, and Alliances and empowerment. (University of Michigan IGRCC,

Public Deliberation
Public deliberation is one name for the way we go about deciding how to act. In weighing -- together -- the costs and consequences of various approaches to solving problems, people become aware of the differences in the way others see those costs and consequences. That enables them to find courses of action that are consistent with what is valuable to the community as a whole. In that way the public can define the public's interests -- issue by issue (David Mathews and Noelle McAfee, Making Choices Together)

Public Evaluation

Public evaluation is the process of assessing how effective you have been at addressing a problem. It is a learned art that develops the civic confidence and capacity of citizens. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

Public Participation

The involvement of citizens in a government and industry decisions that affect their lives.

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Restorative Justice
A form of conflict transformation which views crime as a violation of people and relationships and seeks to create obligations to make things right. Restorative justice involves the victim, the offender, and the community in a search for solutions that promote repair, reconciliation, and reassurance. The process includes the assistance of a neutral third party (the mediator), identifying the disputed issues, developing options, considering alternatives and endeavoring to reach an agreement. (Victim Offender Mediation Association,

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Self-Organizing or Emergent Process
A group process that respects the natural unfolding of a group, rather than seeking to lead participants through a series of "steps." ?While participants may naturally move through different "group stages," the facilitator would be "following" rather than "leading" the group. Examples include T-groups, Bohmian Dialogue and Dynamic Facilitation. (Rosa Zubizarreta, Co-Intelligence Institute,


Service-learning is a method by which young people learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully-organized service experiences: that meet actual community needs, that are coordinated in collaboration with the school and community, that are integrated into each young person's academic curriculum, that provide structured time for a young person to reflect, that let young people use academic skills and knowledge in real life situations, that enhance what is taught in school by extending learning beyond the classroom, and help foster a sense of caring for others. (Alliance for Service-Learning in Education Reform, 1993)

Social Assessment
Social Assessment provides a framework for incorporating participation and social analysis into the design and delivery of projects. Social Assessments focus on issues of operational relevance, prioritize critical issues from among the many social variables that potentially affect a project's impacts and success, and recommend how to address those issues to ensure that implementation arrangements take into consideration key social and institutional concerns. Social Assessments can contribute to the development of participatory approaches in particular operations, as well as focus attention on important social issues that need to be taken into account in the design and implementation of the operations.

Social Capital
Social capital refers to those stocks of social trust, norms and networks that people can draw upon to solve common problems. Networks of civic engagement, such as neighborhood associations, sports clubs, and cooperatives, are an essential form of social capital, and the denser these networks, the more likely that members of a community will cooperate for mutual benefit. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

Socrates Café
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.

People and groups who will or may be affected by the outcome of a dialogue or public participation process, or who would affect the outcome themselves. (The Dialogue to Action Initiative,

Stakeholder Analysis
The starting point of most participatory work, Stakeholder Analysis addresses the fundamental questions of: Who are the key stakeholders in the project or study being undertaken or proposed? What are the interests of these stakeholders How will they be affected by the project? How influential are the different stakeholders and Which stakeholders are most important for the success of the project? (Participation and Social Assessment: Tools and Techniques. Compiled by Jennifer Rietbergen-McCracken and Deepa Narayan. The World Bank. 1998.)

Story Circles
Story Circles draw upon traditional story telling methods to achieve their goals. It is a way to move from the personal to the political, and offers a pedagogical alternative to negotiate intra-group conflicts and tensions.

Stratified Random Sampling
Randomly selecting from a whole population (a community, state, country, etc.) a statistically significant pool of hundreds of people and then (using interviews) choosing from that pool a smaller group who collectively reflect the diversity of the larger population according to specified criteria (demographic, opinion, location, etc.). The resulting group of 12-50 people can be viewed as a fair cross-section of the population.

Study Circle
A Study Circle is a group of 8-12 people from different backgrounds and viewpoints who meet several times to talk about an issue. In a study circle, everyone has an equal voice, and people try to understand each other's views. They do not have to agree with each other. The idea is to share concerns and look for ways to make things better. A facilitator helps the group focus on different views and makes sure the discussion goes well. In a large-scale (or community-wide) study circle program, people all over a neighborhood, city, county, school district, or region meet in diverse study circles over the same period of time. All of the study circles work on the same issue and seek solutions for the whole community. At the end of the round of study circles, people from all the study circles come together in a large community meeting to work together on the action ideas that came out the study circles. Study circle programs lead to a wide range of action and change efforts. (

Symbolic Dialogue
A repeatable process where the values and opinions of numerous individuals from multiple small groups in independent dialogue about a common topic are measured using an objective instrument or survey. Results of the measurement are analyzed by a computer program and represented for an observer as that of a single, and virtual, large group in dialogue. Representation is typically in the form of a report detailing multiple facets of the virtual group and its interrelated values and opinions. (adapted from John Spady, 2000, Forum Foundation,

Systems Thinking
In this discipline, organizations use a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that have been developed over the past fifty years, to make full cause-and-effect patterns clearer and to help see how to change them effectively as warranted. This work is most often done in teams and places a strong emphasis on the team s ability to communicate as they problem-solve together. (From The Theory and Practice of Dialogue in Organizational Settings by John P. Hale, 1995, Center for the Study of Work Teams, University of North Texas. /reports/jphale.htm)

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In the 1940s, the National Training Laboratories Institute pioneered the use of T-groups (Laboratory Training) in which the learners use here and now experience in the group, feedback among participants and theory on human behavior to explore group process and gain insights into themselves and others. The goal is to offer people options for their behavior in groups. The T-group was a great training innovation which provided the base for what we now know about team building. This was a new method that would help leaders and managers create a more humanistic, people serving system and allow leaders and managers to see how their behavior actually affected others. There was a strong value of concern for people and a desire to create systems that took people's needs and feelings seriously.

Talking Circles
In many Native American Nations, a 'talking circle' is formed when a community wants to discuss an issue, or a number of issues, at a public gathering. The participants form a circle, usually in the centre of a room, or around a fire. Each person in the talking circle shares their perspective on an issue, while the others listen respectfully. An object is often used as a 'talking stick,' which signifies whose turn it is to talk (and whose turn it is to listen).

Target Group
"Targets are members of social identity groups that are disenfranchised, exploited, and victimized in a variety of ways by" those with more power and privilege, as well as institutions. Targets are "subject to containment, having their movements and choices restricted, seen as expendable and replaceable, without an individual identity apart from the group." (From Adams, et. al. Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice text, pg. 20)

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White Privilege
Peggy McIntosh, author of "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," defines white privilege as "unearned assets" about which most white people are unaware.

Wisdom Council
The Wisdom Council is a structural approach to transforming a large system of people to become a "true democracy." It has twelve components, which are described in the book, "Society's Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People." The process uses a group of randomly selected people to generate a whole-system dialogue. (Jim Rough & Associates, Inc.,

World Café
Both a vision and a method of dialogue, The World Café evolved out of conversations and experimentation one evening at the home of consultants Juanita Brown and David Isaacs. World Café conversations are an intentional way to create a living network of conversation around questions that matter. A Café conversation is a creative process for leading collaborative dialogue, sharing knowledge and creating possibilities for action in groups of all sizes. In a World Café, participants sit four to a table and have a series of conversational rounds lasting from 20 to 45 minutes about a question which is personally meaningful to them. At the end of the round, one person remains as the host and each of the other three travel to separate tables. The host of the table welcomes the travelers and shares the essence of the previous conversation, the travelers also relate any conversational threads which they are carrying and the conversation deepens as the round progresses. At the end of this round, participants may return to their original table or go to another table depending on the design of the Café. Likewise, they may engage a new question or go deeper with the original one. After several rounds, each table reports out their themes, insights and learnings to the whole group, where it is captured on flipcharts or other means for making it visible, allowing everyone to reflect on what is emerging in the room. At this point, the Café may end or it may begin another round of conversational exploration and inquiry. (

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Youth Development

Youth development is an ongoing process in which all young people are engaged and invested in seeking ways to meet their basic physical and social needs and to build the competencies and connections they need for survival and success. Youth development focuses on young people's strengths rather than their failings and emphasizes the importance of offering young people a complement of services and opportunities, including opportunities to do important work. (From the Civic Practices Network website,

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Last Updated:? May 15, 2003.