Innovative Dialogue & Deliberation Programs


18-35 is a newly-formed national, non-partisan, multi-ideological organization dedicated to giving young adults a credible voice in policy-making. The mission of 18-35 is to infuse national policy debates with an innovative and young perspective and to engage young adults in these debates. Beginning in September 2003, 18-35 is challenging a select group of "up-and-coming" and "already-there" young adults to think across partisan and ideological lines to develop new, creative, effective solutions to critical social and economic problems. In addition to a broad dissemination effort geared to policy-makers, the media and the general public, 18-35 will convene on-line and off-line deliberations across the country that bring together young adults and elected officials.

The American Assembly

The American Assembly, an affiliate of Columbia University, was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1950 to illuminate issues of public policy. The Assembly's major objectives are to focus attention and stimulate informed discussion on a range of critical U.S. policy topics; to inform government officials, community and civic leadership, and the general public regarding the factual background and the range of policy options in a given issue; to facilitate increased communication among decision makers from the public and private sectors, as well as from institutions and organizations concerned with critical public policy issues; and to raise on a continuing basis the level and quality of public policy discourse on national and international issues.


A program of the Ludwick Family Foundation, Arsalyn promotes constructive dialogue between groups with diverse viewpoints as well as the sharing of models and methods. Arsalyn has been convening a series of regional conferences geared toward helping young people ? especially politically active youth - develop skills that will help them communicate effectively with those of opposing views or with more lukewarm potential allies without alienating them or poisoning the wells of deliberation and common action. The aim of these conferences: to explore of the art of political deliberation and to apply this art in "bridging the partisan divide."

By the People
By the People Logo.

By the People: America in the World, an initiative of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, aims to energize and enhance the national conversation on America's role in the world through a series of national and local broadcasts and events that demonstrate the relevance of foreign policy issues to local concerns. The project includes three national PBS specials, two cycles of local programming to be produced by PBS stations in cooperation with community organizations, national and local forums for civic dialogue, and an interactive web site.

Canadian Policy Research Networks

CPRN creates knowledge and leads public debate on social and economic issues important to the well-being of Canadians. The birth of CPRN's Public Involvement Network (PIN) in 2002 reflects the growing conviction in policy circles that effective public policy requires effective public engagement. The new network builds on CPRN's acknowledged experience in the field and signals their determination to strengthen their citizen engagement activities. PIN aims is to bring citizens' voices into social policy research and public policy making by engaging the public in such activities. They also seek to build support and capacity for public involvement among public policy-makers and practitioners and add knowledge to this field by undertaking original research.

Common Ground Partnership
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The Common Ground Partnership is spearheading Conversations About Conflict across the country. Created by Search for Common Ground in June 2002, the Common Ground Partnership is working to transform the way we deal with conflict: away from adversarial approaches toward cooperative ones.

The Commonway Institute

Sharif Abdullah, an attorney who quit law frustrated with its adversarial nature, formed the Commonway Institute in Portland, Oregon. Abdullah helps Commons Caf? organizers recruit a group of about 40 participants from both sides of a cultural divide and foster a discussion group.

Dialogue and Action between the People of Iran and America

The DAPIA program serves as a catalyst for connecting U.S. and Iranian civil society and NGO leaders and provides a structure for guiding the process, facilitating productive people-to-people dialogue and collaboration and achieving specific and desirable objectives along the way.

Dialogue Webpage for Conflicts Worldwide

DWDC is a forum for 'online dialogue,' which aims to contribute to the improvement of mutual understanding between opposing sides of conflict throughout the world. Produced by the Japan Center for Preventive Diplomacy.

Discovering Common Ground: Missouri Communities Deliberate

Sandra Hodge at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri directs this program, which promotes deliberation in Missouri primarily through National Issues Forums. Downloadable from Discovering Common Ground's website are three PowerPoint presentations about moderating, convening and recording deliberative public forums, and an 83-page manual titled Deliberation and Your Community: How to Convene and Moderate Local Public Forums Using Deliberative Decision-Making.

The Faith & Politics Institute

The Faith and Politics Institute is a non-partisan, interfaith organization which fosters community and conscience in and among U.S. political leaders. The Institute works with members of Congress who want to involve citizens in discussion and action on race in their home districts.

Global Kids
Global Kids Logo.

The mission of Global Kids is to prepare urban youth to become global citizens and community leaders. Global Kids works to ensure that young people of diverse backgrounds have the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to succeed in the workplace and participate in the shaping of public policy and international relations. Global Kids conducts online and face-to-face dialogues for high-school students.

Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute based in the Twin Cities sponsors public forums called "Thought Leader Gatherings" in which a speaker primes a group of about 200 with suggestions and ideas to move them to think about the "integration of personal growth with what we do in the world." After small group discussion, the audience reunites in the final hour.

Hope in the Cities

Launched in 1990 in an effort to bring political, business and community leaders together in Richmond Virginia to address racial healing, Hope in the Cities has sponsored conferences drawing international participation, has developed dialogue guides to foster conversation in communities and has spawned reconciliation efforts in several other cities.

Images & Voices of Hope

Convened by Institute for Advanced Appreciative Inquiry, The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization and the Visions of a Better World Foundation, Images & Voices of Hope is an international conversation about the impact of images and stories on people, families, communities, cultures and the world. The purpose of IV of Hope is to strengthen the role of media as agents of world benefit, expanding awareness of the choices those in media make that raise public trust, generate constructive meaning, and amplify human hope, thus enhancing humanity's capacity for life-promoting action.

The Intentional Living Institute, Inc.

The ILI offers cutting edge programs in dialogue and negotiation facilitation, Intentional Heart Centered leadership and advanced self-development. The ILI uses a personalized coaching approach that teaches essential philosophical ideas about leadership as well as practical everyday tools. The ILI is passionately committed to coaching and supporting individuals toward achieving significant breakthroughs in the areas of their professional life, family life, relationships, and community life as well as spiritual life.

Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington

IFC brings together the Bah'ai, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Sikh faith communities in the Washington, DC region in order to increase understanding, dialogue and a sense of community among peoples of diverse faiths from different races and cultures, and to address issues of social and economic justice in defense of human dignity.

Kentucky Center for Public Issues

KCPI works to actively participate in shaping Kentucky's public agenda by providing credible information and creating new forums for meaningful citizen dialogue and action regarding Kentucky's public affairs. KCPI's mission is to help citizens explore, understand, and confront issues critical to the future of the Commonwealth.

Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue

Simon Fraser University, which is located in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), recently unveiled the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, an international conference centre providing 16,000 square feet of specialized meeting and function space which is devoted to facilitating public and private dialogue in order to foster understanding and engender positive action. The interactive design of the conference space allows delegates to maximize personal and group communications and to engage each other through a range of technologies including the Internet, audio or video conferencing, and satellite services. Additional technological support includes 100 Mbps data and network services, multi-media presentation technology, a conference polling and audience response system and group decision-making software. 2003's ?Dialogue Maker's Series? provided learning spaces for those wishing to create environments in which people 'think together.'

National Conference for Community and Justice
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With more than 60 regional offices in 34 states and Washington D.C., NCCJ facilitates community and interfaith dialogues, provides workplace consultations, youth leadership development, seminar and educator training. Its nationally recognized research in the study of intergroup relations reflects the organization's abiding commitment to help to build an inclusive society.

Penn National Commission on Society, Culture and Community

From 1996 to 1999, the Penn National Commission sought to understand the problems of contemporary public discussion and behavior and to foster more engaged and thoughtful conversations about social issues. With the research phase of the Commission's work completed, the Penn Public Talk Project is now engaged in the programmatic phase, working to improve the practice of robust public discourse in ways that lead to stronger, more inclusive communities.

Project 540

Project 540 is an innovative program which has given over 100,000 students nationwide the opportunity to engage in dialogue about issues that matter to them and to turn these conversations into real school and community change. Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by Providence College, Project 540 has conducted student-led dialogues in nearly 250 high schools, asking students what issues matter most to them in their schools, communities, nation, and world.

Roundtable, Inc.

Roundtable, Inc. is a production company that focuses on building "social capital." Roundtable produces public engagement projects in several media (television, radio, web, print, books) and partners with other production companies to help increase the impact of their work. They form regional coalitions for each project and provide online training for facilitators.

San Diego Dialogue

In San Diego County, a group of American and Mexican businesspeople and community leaders convene regularly under the auspices of San Diego Dialogue, a project the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). These dialogues are so successful that once-intractable border and regional problems are now dealt with almost routinely.

The San Mateo Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group

Len and Libby Traubman have been organizing Jewish-Palestinian dialogue in the San Francisco area for over a decade as part of a larger public peace process. Their website features a 'how to' page on initiating Jewish-Palestinian dialogue groups, as well as many great articles and links. The Traubmans have spawned many similar, yet diverse groups in the Bay area, and their ideas and methods have spread into new cities and onto campuses.

Search for Common Ground
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Search for Common Ground is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization devoted to conflict prevention and resolution. Based in Washington, DC, with programs in fourteen countries, SFCG works in partnership with the European Centre for Common Ground in Brussels. SFGC is the organization spearheading the movement to establish a U.S. Consensus Council.

Students Talk About Race (STAR)

STAR is a signature project of the Multicultural Center (MCC) at California State University, Long Beach. Since its inception in November, 1992, with just 15 CSULB students, STAR has trained over 400 students per semester drawn from CSULB as well as other Los Angeles area campuses (including UCLA, USC, Pepperdine, and Loyola). STAR has recruited over 1,500 college volunteers, training them to become facilitators in cross-cultural communication and placing them into 76 middle school and high schools (serving some 18,000 students). The 8-week STAR experience has proven itself to be a compassionate and candid forum, addressing difficult issues of diversity with vulnerability and humor.

Texas Forums
Texas Forums Logo.

Texas Forums, a program of the LBJ Library and Museum, was launched in 2002 and is a network of individuals and organizations working together to revitalize the civic spirit of Texas and improve civic discourse. Using the National Issues Forum (NIF) model for community conversations, Texas Forums has trained over 100 people in Central Texas on how to engage others in their community in thoughtful conversations about important public issues.

The United Nations Year for Dialogue Among Civilizations

In November 1998, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the year 2001 as the "United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations." The resolution GA/RES/53/22, proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and supported by a large number of countries, invited governments and the UN system to plan and implement cultural, educational and social programs to promote the concept of dialogue among civilizations. Also check out the Iran-based International Centre for Dialogue Among Civilizations' site:

The University of Michigan's Dialogues on Diversity

This University of Michigan campus-wide initiative provides opportunities for the open exchange of views about the value of diversity. It supports programs that encourage all members of the University community to explore the concept of diversity, find out what being part of a diverse community means, consider the perspectives of others - and let others know what they think.

The University of Michigan's Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR)

IGR is a social justice education program which works proactively to promote understanding of intergroup relations throughout the student community. It assists students as they explore models of intergroup understanding and cooperation while acknowledging differences between and within groups. IGR provides students with opportunities to learn, experience, and work constructively with one another through structured dialogues and experiential activities across social group boundaries and through social conflict. A number of other universities have used IGR as a model for developing similar programs.

World Conversations

World Conversations bring travelers, visitors and locals together to talk about topics that matter in their own lives and in the world. These Breakfast Conversations, initiated at San Francisco's Red Victorian Bed & Breakfast, enjoy a popularity which has spread across the continent and around the world. Each informal Breakfast Conversation (4 to 9 people at a table) has a broad theme (local community, global citizenship, travel insights, environment, etc.), and the dialogue involves both round robin and popcorn-style conversation. World Conversations are also held at appointed times in many hotels and cafes; any place where travelers and locals gather.


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