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College of Humanities & Sciences

School of World Studies

Dialogue Forum at VCU

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What is Dialogue?

Dialogue (Greek: dia-logos, to see through to meaning) refers to a facilitated, structured circle conversation about a meaningful topic, question, or shared experience. The dialogue process requires mutually agreed upon guidelines for speaking that are based on mutual respect, deep listening, open-mindedness, suspending judgment, sincerity, and confidentiality. The process is based on acknowledging the equal value of all participants, providing a safe environment in which to question one’s own assumptions as well as those of other participants, supporting exploration of new insights, allowing for uninterrupted speaking, and engaging in periods of reflective silence. 

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Blau-Dialogue-2 [View Image]

five panelists seated at a long table [View Image]

Some Common Principles of Dialogue

There are numerous models for conducting dialogue. The following principles guide the dialogue process in many of these dialogue models.

  •     The dialogue group includes all parties with an interest (stakeholders) in the topic under consideration.
  •     The group together organizes topics for dialogue, decides collectively on any actions to be taken, and collectively assumes 
  •     responsibility of planning and implementation on decisions.
  •     Through the dialogue process, review the past, analyze the present in a global context, and envision a future.
  •     Find common ground for planning and implementing the desired future.
  •     Each participant in the dialogue assumes responsibility for planning and implementing the desired future.
  •     All dialogue participants are equal, and participants give and receive equal respect.

As their title indicates, dialogue facilitators function as facilitators, rather than experts or authorities, in the dialogue process.

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