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Quick Reference Glossary    

The following glossary began as a collection of information assembled for binders distributed at the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. This should be seen as a working document and we welcome suggestions of terms to be added here.

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Someone who speaks up for her/himself and members of his/her identity group; e.g., a woman who lobbies for equal pay for women. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Affirmative Access

A policy position that declares diversity (in the workplace, on college campuses, etc.) to be a worthwhile goal, but rejects the use of quotas as a method of achieving that diversity.


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)


A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another group; typically member of dominant group standing beside member(s) of targeted group; e.g., a male arguing for equal pay for women. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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 or Bohmian 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 Advisory Committees

Many government agencies use these committees to help with decision-making on a variety of issues (transportation, education, policing, housing, art, etc.). In principle these committees are a good idea but historically in some communities they have been ineffective for various reasons (such as limits on the issues they can address; politically appointed membership who are not truly representative of a community; set up to rubber stamp decisions already made; heavy influence from corporate representatives; limited input from citizens who are not members of the committee). Government agencies could work with communities to redesign advisory committees so that the community gets to appoint the members, the committee itself gets to decide which issues it will address, and how to get broader community input before making final decisions. (From “Democracy and the Precautionary Principle: An Introduction” by Maria B. Pellerano and Peter Montague)

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. (


The act of contributing to public life and participating in solving public problems.

Civic Scenarios

Civic Scenario dialogue is one approach to faciliating a democratic dialogue process. In a civic scenario project, a group of influential leaders, drawn from a broad range of sectors and organizations, works together to understand what is happening, might happen, and should happen in their city, region or country. They then act in concert on that shared understanding and vision. (From the UN Democratic Dialogue Network website)

Civic Capacity

The capacity for communities, organizations, and societies to make wise collective decisions and to create and sustain smart collective action. Building local civic capacity involves such things as training moderators and facilitators, cultivating “champions” of public engagement within government, developing the capacity to recruit and mobilize dialogue participants representing a cross-section of the community, and establishing the know-how and initiative required to organize programs and events.

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

There are many ways in which people participate in civic, community and political life and, by doing so, express their engaged citizenship. From volunteering to voting, from community organizing to political advocacy, the defining characteristic of active civic engagement is the commitment to participate and contribute to the improvement of one’s community, neighborhood and nation. (Philanthropy for Active 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,” or collective 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,

Collaborative Governance

An emerging set of concepts and practices that offer prescriptions for inclusive, deliberative, and often consensus-oriented approaches to planning, problem solving, and policymaking. Collaborative governance typically describes those processes in which government actors are participants and/or objects of the processes. (Collaborative Governance: A Guide for Grantmakers, Hewlett Foundation) Or, “The essence of Collaborative Governance is a new level of social/political engagement between and among the several sectors of society that constitutes a more effective way to address many of modern societies’ needs beyond anything that the several sectors have heretofore been able to achieve on their own.” Frank and Denie S. Weil, program benefactors of the Weil Program on Collaborative Governance at the (John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University).

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is a process developed by Steven Daniels, Gregg Walker, Matthew Carroll, and Keith Blatner to enhance the public policy decision making process, especially as it involves public participation. This approach utilizes ideas from soft systems methodology (a theory of learning) and adlternative dispute resolution. The key ideas are that public participants and “experts” must work together to learn more about the system that they are all operating in together. As in other transformative processes, the goal of collaborative learning is not solving a particular problem, but improving a situation, which is framed as a set of interrelated systems. The goal of collaborative learning is to utilize improved communication and negotiation processes as a means through which learning-and then improvement of the situation-can occur. (From Transformative Approaches to Conflict by Heidi and Guy Burgess,

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.

Color Blind

The belief in treating everyone “equally” by treating everyone the same; based in the presumption that differences are by definition bad or problematic, and therefore best ignored (i.e., “I don’t see race, gender, etc.”). (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Common Ground Approach

The Common Ground Approach is the method we use to resolve disputes, whereby the parties involved understand and honor their differences and find a mutually beneficial agreement based on their shared interests - their common ground. It is sometimes called the cooperative, collaborative or win-win approach and it can be applied to all kinds of conflict, from small everyday ones between individuals to the larger ones that divide communities. (Search for Common Ground,

Common Ground Media

Common Ground Media uses communication mediums such as radio, TV, film, print and Internet to facilitate transforming conflict into cooperative action. The aim is to show that contentious problems can be examined in ways that inform and entertain, while promoting the search for solutions. (Search for Common Ground,


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 Asset Inventory

A compilation of a community’s assets: organizations, religious institutions, public institutions, businesses, schools, real estate owned locally, public spaces where people meet and catch up, etc. Developing an inventory of a community’s assets helps people understand the diversity of their community and what people consider important to life in the community. (Kretzmann and McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets, 1993).

Community of Practice

A community of practice is a distributed group of people who share a concern, set of problems, mandate or sense of purpose. As (often) informal groups of experts, Communities of Practice serve to reconnect individuals with each other in self-organizing, boundary-spanning communities. Communities of Practice complement existing structures by promoting collaboration, information exchange, and sharing of best practices across boundaries of time, distance, and organizational hierarchies. (Dialogue Circles,

Community Problem-Solving

A collaborative governance practice in which place-based, inter-organizational collaboratives of community, government, and other groups work together to address public problems over an extended period of time. (Planning Public Forums)

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 Management

Conflict management generally involves taking action to keep a conflict from escalating further - it implies the ability to control the intensity of a conflict and its effects through negotiation, intervention, institutional mechanisms and other traditional diplomatic methods. It usually does not usually address the deep-rooted issues that many be at the cause of the conflict originally or attempt bring about a solution. (Search for Common Ground,

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution seeks to resolve the incompatibilities of interests and behaviours that constitute the conflict by recognizing and addressing the underlying issues, finding a mutually acceptable process and establishing relatively harmonious relationships and outcomes. (Search for Common Ground,

Conflict Transformation

Conflict transformation aims at shifting how individuals and communities perceive and accommodate their differences, away from adversarial (win-lose) approaches toward collaborative (win-win) problem-solving. Transforming a conflict is long-term process that engages a society on multiple levels to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills that empower people to coexist peacefully. Overcoming fear and distrust, dealing with stereotypes and perceptions, and learning how to communicate effectively are important steps in redefining relationships to bring forth social justice and equality for parties in conflict. (Search for Common Ground,

Consensus Building

The process of developing an overwhelming agreement of shared purpose among participants in a dialogue. It often comes as a result of open communication, reflection and understanding among participants, who find empathy for others´ realities and identify converging ideas and purposes. (From the UN Democratic Dialogue Network website)

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,


Consultation is a process that facilitates the receipt of feedback and input on an issue. There are two key roles in any consultation: those requesting the input (the host) and those providing the input (the participant). Key elements: 1) It is a process, not an outcome. 2) Consultation impacts on a decision through influence, rather than power. 3) Consultation is about input into decision-making, not joint decision-making or decision-making by referendum. (From

Contact Hypothesis

The original scientific motivation for integration of education and the armed forces, this theory posits that bringing peoples of different backgrounds together (on a college campus, for example) will lead to improved relations among them. Additional research has shown this to be true only under certain conditions including: sanction by authority, common goals, and equal status contact (both numerically and psychologically). (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Convener or Convenor

An individual or organization that initiates and promotes a dialogue or deliberation initiative, and brings together participants to engage in such a process.

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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The ancient Greeks called deliberation the talk we use to teach ourselves before we act. Deliberation is the kind of reasoning and talking we do when a difficult decision has to be made, a great deal is at stake, and there are competing options or approaches we might take. At the heart of deliberation is weighing possible actions and decisions carefully by examining their costs and consequences in light of what is most valuable to us. Deliberation can take place in any kind of conversation―including dialogue, debate and discussion.

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.)

Deliberative Polling

Deliberative Polling® is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the weekend events are broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form. After the weekend deliberations, the sample is asked the same questions again. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had a good opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues. (The Center for Deliberative Polling,


The idea that everyone has an active role to play governing our public world. Or, government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.

Democratic Dialogue

A cross-institutional, multi-stakeholder process that addresses complex social problems not being adequately addressed by existing institutions. The dialogue is open and inclusive, encouraging participants to talk with and listen to one another in an effort to build trust, enable consensus, and produce concrete results. Dialogue is democratic when it promotes broad inclusion and participation, and when it emphasizes the promotion of democracy and democratic development. (From the UN Democratic Dialogue Network website)

Democratic Governance

A shift from citizens as simply voters, volunteers and consumers to citizens as problem solvers. A shift from public leaders as service providers to public leaders as partners and catalysts for citizen action. A shift from democracy as a series of elections to a society that tackles problems collaboratively that cannot be solved either without government or by government alone.


“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, Dialogue is often defined as a conversation between two or more people or an exchange of ideas or opinions. It is characterized by participants exchanging information face-to-face, sharing personal stories and experiences, honestly expressing perspectives, clarifying viewpoints, and developing solutions. The goal of dialogue is to deepen understanding and judgment, and to think about ways to make a difference on an issue. This is more likely to occur in a safe, focused discussion when people exchange views freely and consider a variety of views. (From

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.


The differences of ideas, opinions, histories, and cultures that exist among any human beings. Using these differences to solve problems is a vital component of dialogue and deliberation efforts.

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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The adaptation and enhancement of traditional democratic processes between elected representatives and citizens, over the internet. There is much debate on which processes should be made available in the electronic medium, although most would agree that eventually voting, petitions, consultations, and committee processes will all be online. (From


The use of information technology to provide citizens with access to government information and services over the internet. For government, this requires an examination of their current practices to see how they can be adapted or even transformed for electronic delivery. (From

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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A facilitator is an individual who’s job is to help to manage a process of information exchange. While an expert’s” role is to offer advice, particularly about the content of a discussion, the facilitator’s role is to help with HOW the discussion is proceeding. In short, the facilitator’s responsibility is to address the journey, rather than the destination. (IAF,

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.

Fundamental Attribution

A common cognitive action in which one attributes his/her own success and positive actions to his/her own innate characteristics (“I’m a good person”) and failure to external influences (“I lost it in the sun”), while attributing others success to external influences (“he had help, was lucky”) and failure to others’ innate characteristics (“they’re bad people”). This operates on the group levels as well, with the ingroup giving itself favorable attributions, while giving the outgroup unfavorable attributions, as way of maintaining a feeling of superiority. A “double standard.” (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center)

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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Human Needs/Analytical Problem Solving

Another image of conflict transformation comes from a group of theorists who stress the importance of fundamental human needs to the development and maintenance of protracted or deep-rooted conflict. When an individual or group is denied its fundamental need for identity, security, recognition, or equal participation within the society, say theorists such as John Burton, Herbert Kelman, and Jay Rothman, protracted conflict is inevitable. The only way to resolve such conflict is to identify the needs that are threatened or denied, and restructure relationships and/or the social system in a way that protects those needs for all individuals and groups. This is often attempted by holding what are called “analytical problem solving workshops” in which a panel of scholars facilitates private, unofficial analytical discussions about the nature of a particular difficult conflict. By helping the parties work together to frame the conflict in terms of needs, potential solutions to the impasse often become apparent when they were not so before. Most often, these solutions require significant changes in the social, economic, and/or political structures-thus, like John Paul Lederach, they see conflict transformation as requiring systemic as well as personal change. (From Transformative Approaches to Conflict by Heidi and Guy Burgess,


Ingroup Bias (favoritism)

The tendency for groups to “favor” themselves by rewarding group members economically, socially, psychologically, and emotionally in order to uplift one group over another. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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

Intergroup Conflict

Tension and conflict which exists between social groups, and which may be enacted by individual members of these groups. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Intragroup Dialogue

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


A social phenomenon and psychological state where prejudice is accompanied by the power to systemically enact it. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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Knowledge Creation

As defined by the Regional Project on Democratic Dialogue, it is the process of creating and codifying new and useful knowledge on dialogue, and compiling and systematizing experiences, lessons learned and best practices of dialogue processes carried out in the Latin America and Caribbean Region, and elsewhere in the world. It seeks to contribute to the development of democratic dialogue tools, ensuring that these social technologies have solid theoretical bases and firm foundations in practical knowledge. (From the UN Democratic Dialogue Network website)

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Acronym encompassing the diverse group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer/Questioning peoples. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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,

Local Ownership

Local ownership is achieved when local actors initiate, plan and/or organize dialogue processes on their own, and are responsible for the results and completion of a project. Also, when the local public feels included and has a stake in the goals and results of a dialogue process. (From the UN Democratic Dialogue Network website)

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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.


A moderator works to keep conversations flowing. Online moderators are generally responsible to help members of a discussion or forum by answering questions, making announcements, and creating a friendly, safe environment for dialogue.

Multi-Stakeholder Dispute Resolution

Stakeholder groups representing different interests and points of view (such as environmentalists, business interests and government representatives) work together to reach specific agreements through negotiation and consensus-building. This is closely related to more traditional concepts of conflict resolution, such a mediation. (Planning Public Forums)

Multicultural Laboratory

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


The quality of having multiple, simultaneous social identities; e.g., being male and Buddhist and working class and … (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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National Initiative for Democracy

See Citizen Initiative Review.

National Origin

The political state from which an individual hails; may or may not be the same as that person’s current location or citizenship. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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.

Organization Development

Organization Development or “OD” is a body of knowledge and practice that enhances organizational performance through the development and empowerment of teams and individuals. OD embraces the tenets of “system thinking.”

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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Participatory Democracy

Citizens participate directly in the decision-making process, usually by voting. The vote is distinct from the public debate that precedes it and is the quintessential democratic act. Examples of participatory mechanisms include general elections, referendums and community-based partnerships. (From

Participatory Research

Participatory Research is not simply a more participatory method, but an alternative paradigm of research. It can be understood as the mode of knowledge production associated with popular education, theorized and practiced from the perspective that, just as there is no neutral education, there is no neutral research. Like popular education, participatory research starts from the assumption that knowledge is socially constructed. Participatory research draws upon this expertise by engaging community members in the collective analysis of social problems in an effort to understand and address them. Participatory research blurs the traditional distinction between “researcher” and “subjects,” as all are equally engaged in the pursuit of knowledge for a common purpose. It assumes that the purpose of research is not only to gain knowledge, but to use that knowledge to produce change that is consistent with a vision of a more equitable society. Participatory research can be seen, in its ideal manifestation, as a seamless integration of what are generally thought of separately as research and education. (From the Center for Popular Education and Participatory Research,


Peacebuilding refers to activities that go beyond crisis intervention or conflict management, such as long-term development that focuses on developing social, governmental and non-governmental (including religious) mechanisms that favor nonviolent, constructive means of resolving differences. Peacebuilding is an approach to post-conflict settings that recognizes the need for reconciliation, developing a capacity for conflict resolution, and working towards a sustainable peace. It involves a full range of approaches, processes, and stages needed for transformation toward more manageable, peaceful relationships and governance structures. Peacebuilding is distinct from both peacemaking and peacekeeping as it is proactive in dealing with conflict, rather than reactive. (Search for Common Ground,


Peacemaking is the official or unofficial diplomatic effort intended to end the bloodshed between contending parties embroiled in conflict. The objective is to move a violent conflict into a nonviolent stage, where differences are normally then settled through negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. International organizations serve as peacemakers and act as neutral third parties or provide other non-violent channels of dispute resolution, such as international courts. (Search for Common Ground,


Peacekeeping refers to a military operation undertaken with the consent of all major parties to a dispute. Its purpose is to monitor and facilitate implementing an agreement and supporting diplomatic efforts to reach a long-term political settlement. It often involves ambiguous situations requiring peacekeepers to enforce cease-fire agreements and protect non-combatants while maintaining neutrality. The U.N. divides peacekeeping into three broad categories: 1) helping maintain cease-fires, 2) implementing comprehensive settlements, and 3) protecting humanitarian operations. (Search for Common Ground,


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

People of Color

A collective term for men and women of Asian, African, Latin and Native American backgrounds; as opposed to the collective “White” for those of European ancestry. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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.

The principles and philosophy of popular education are often associated with the work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, but the practice of popular education predates Freire. Popular education can be categorized according to three central themes. First, popular education is community education, aimed at empowering communities through cooperative study and action. Secondly, popular education is political education, with the goal of collective social change toward a more equitable and democratic society. Finally, popular education is people’s education, traditionally aimed at those communities who are excluded or marginalized by dominant society. (From the Center for Popular Education and Participatory Research,

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,


An organized group (outside of your immediate family and friends) acting together to solve shared problems.

Public Consultation

Public consultation is a process involving interactive or two-way communication between a government and the public, through which both become informed about different perspectives on issues and proposals, providing the public with the opportunity to influence decisions to be made by the governmnet. A good public consultation program will result in better decisions that are more sensitive and responsive to public concerns and values. (From

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 Engagement

Various forms of highly inclusive public dialogue and deliberation that are critical steps towards policy development, collaborative civic action, and other forms of public problem solving. Often incorrectly used interchangably with the term “civic engagement,” public engagement generally involves a mutually-beneficial partnership between the public and an entity perceived as having power (government, a university, a corporation, etc.).

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 Knowledge

A term used to describe the understandings, ideas, recommendations, etc. that are generated by the public in deliberative forums and are intended to inform and influence public officials in their decision-making. (Planning Public Forums)

Public Participation

Public participation is the process by which an organization consults with interested or affected individuals, organizations, and government entities before making a decision. Public participation is two-way communication and collaborative problem solving with the goal of achieving better and more acceptable decisions. Public participation prevents or minimizes disputes by creating a process for resolving issues before they become polarized. Other terms sometimes used are “public involvement,” “community involvement,” or “stakeholder involvement.” (James L. Creighton,

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Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in race/ethnicity; usually by white/European descent groups against persons of color. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Re-fencing (exception-making)

A cognitive process for protecting stereotypes by explaining any evidence/example to the contrary as an isolated exception. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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,


Roundtables are similar to workshops and are a solid approach to bringing people together. A common approach is the expert roundtable where a facilitated discussion can deliver valuable input and perspective to your issue, policy or program. This is also a good forum for sharing of information and expertise. (From

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Safe Space

An environment in which everyone feels comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule or denial of experience. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,


The quality of a group identity of which an individual is more conscious and which plays a larger role in that individual’s day-to-day life; for example, a man’s awareness of his “maleness” in an elevator with only women. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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)

Scenario Workshops

Developed in Europe, this process allows communities and government agencies to look at alternative ways to solve a problem. Detailed alternatives are developed for each scenario that include who does what and how it gets done. Then a participatory group of citizens and stakeholders provide a critical analysis of each scenario including barriers to success, how these barriers might be overcome, and how the scenario fits in with the goals of the community. They can also ask questions and suggest combining pieces of one scenario with pieces of others to meet the community’s goals. This technique assumes that the community already has stated goals for its future. (From “Democracy and the Precautionary Principle: An Introduction” by Maria B. Pellerano and Peter Montague)


The conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is excluded or inhibited. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

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,

Social Identity

Our identities within the context of the different social groups that we belong to such as ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, class, occupation, disability status, religion, and nationality. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Social Identity Development

The stages or phases that a person’s group identity follows as it matures or develops. (Arizona State University Intergroup Relations Center,

Social Justice

Social Justice is a social goal: a society in which justice is achieved in every sphere, including economic, political, and cultural. Those who pursue social justice seek a fair distribution of social goods, such as equal access to opportunity, equal standing before the law, equal voice in determining society’s direction, and equal standing in social and cultural institutions, regardless of cultural heritage, race, gender, disability, education, or class. The term is used in The Curriculum Project to describe the commitments to pluralism, participation, and equity that motivate much community cultural development work. (From Imagining America’s Curriculum Project Glossary)

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.

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.

Structural Violence

Structural Violence is human suffering that is caused by the exploitive or unjust nature in which social, political, legal, cultural and economic institutions are constructed. Structural violence is difficult to see with the naked eye because it has become embedded in ever-present human civil structures and normalized by stable institutions and regular experience. Examples include poverty, hunger, homelessness, discrimination due to race, gender, sexual orientation. (Search for Common Ground,

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

Systems thinking involves the use of various techniques to study systems of many kinds. It includes studying things in a holistic way, rather than purely reductionist techniques. It aims to gain insights into the whole by understanding the linkages, interactions and processes between the elements that comprise the whole “system.”

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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)


Televote is a method of public opinion polling designed to produce informed, deliberated public opinion on very complicated planning, policy and constitutional issues from highly representative samples. Citizens are called on the telephone using random digit dialing. Most agree to receive in the mail a brochure that provides a basic level of information, a variety of expert opinion, and a wide array of alternatives to a major public issue. They agree to read the material and to take as much time as they need to discuss and deliberate this issue with their family, friends, co-workers, etc. before making up their minds. The Televote staff continues to be in close touch with all respondents throughout the process until a certain minimal size of the sample mirrors the population. Once the sample has finished and the results have been tallied, they are distributed widely to the press and to all government officials who may be involved or interested in that issue. Often this process is embedded within a wider Electronic Town Meeting format, so that the public is aware of the Televote before it even begins. (From the Teledemocracy Action News+Network,

Town Halls

Town Halls are a popular tool in bringing citizens into contact with political leaders. The typical format for this is a question and answer format. The citizens sometimes come with prepared questions for the political leader to respond to. (From

Track I Diplomacy

Track I Diplomacy involves direct government-to-government interaction on the official level. Typical Track I activities include traditional diplomacy, official negotiations, and the use of international organizations. The participants stand as representatives of their respective states and reflect the official positions of their governments during discussions. (Search for Common Ground,

Track “One and a Half” Diplomacy

Track “One and a Half” Diplomacy refers to situations when official representatives give authority to non-state actors (or official actors serving in an unofficial capacity) to participate, negotiate or facilitate on behalf of the official state actors. It also refers to non-state individuals who serve as intermediaries between official and non-official actors in difficult conflict situations. It is generally used to prepare key stakeholders before and during the official negotiation process by building consensus and support for agreements, both between parties in conflict and within their prospective constituencies. (Search for Common Ground,

Track II Diplomacy

Track II Diplomacy generally involves informal interaction with influential unofficial actors from civil society, business or religious communities, and local leaders and politicians who are considered to be experts in the area or issue being discussed. It generally seeks to supplement Track I diplomacy by working with middle and lower levels of society and often involves non-traditional methods, such as facilitating dialogue mechanisms and meetings that include participants from both government and non-government institutions. (Search for Common Ground,

Track III Diplomacy

Track III Diplomacy is essentially “people to people” diplomacy undertaken by both individuals and private groups from non-government international organizations that are dedicated to promoting specific causes, universal ideals and norms, and enacting systematic social change. This type of diplomacy often involves organizing meetings and conferences, generating media exposure, and political and legal advocacy for people and communities who are largely marginalized from political power centers and are unable to achieve positive change without outside assistance. (Search for Common Ground,

Transformative Mediation

While problem solving or settlement-oriented mediation focuses on finding a mutually agreeable settlement of an immediate dispute, transformative mediation seeks to transform the disputing parties by empowering them to understand their own situation and needs, as well as encouraging them to recognize the situation and needs of their opponent(s). While such empowerment and recognition often lay the groundwork for a mutually-acceptable settlement, such an outcome is not the primary goal. Rather, the parties’ empowerment and recognition are the main objectives of the transformative approach to mediation. (From Transformative Approaches to Conflict by Heidi and Guy Burgess,


Transpartisanship represents an emerging field in political thought distinct from bipartisanship, which aims to negotiate between “right” and “left,” resulting in a dualistic perspective, and nonpartisanship, which tends to avoid political affiliation altogether. Rather, transpartisanship acknowledges the validity of truths across a range of political perspectives and seeks to synthesize them into an inclusive, pragmatic container beyond typical political dualities. In practice, transpartisan solutions emerge out of a new kind of public conversation that moves beyond polarization by applying proven methods of facilitated dialogue, deliberation and conflict resolution. In this way it is possible to achieve the ideal of a democratic republic by integrating the values of a democracy—freedom, equality, and a regard for the common good, with the values of a republic—order, responsibility and security. (Wikipedia’s Transpartisan page.)

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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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