What are Deliberative Dialogues?

A Deliberative Dialogue is a process through which community members are able to talk productively about an issue of mutual concern. The goal is to bring more people into the discussion and identify shared areas of interest for action. It is not a debate. It is not about reaching agreement or seeing eye-to-eye. It is about looking for a shared direction driven by what we value the most. Through a Deliberative Dialogue, we examine the benefits and consequences of possible solutions, and find out what we, as a community, can and cannot accept.

What are the goals for a Deliberative Dialogue?

  • To better understand the issue and share our individual concerns;
  • To listen to each other and consider the benefits and drawbacks of each approach;
  • To discuss what business, government and individuals can do to make a difference; and
  • To identify shared ideas about what we can do together.

The ideas that emerge from these deliberative dialogues will be compiled and shared with the public, the media, and local policymakers. We hope these dialogues lead to further discussions within our community, involving wider circles of people who care about the issue and are willing to work toward a brighter future for everyone in Austin.

What makes a Deliberative Dialogue different?

In the Deliberative Dialogue process, the participants are the real drivers of the deliberation. The dialogue itself takes place in small groups and lasts for about two hours. Vital to the success of a Deliberative Dialogue is that participants share their views/experiences and respectfully listen to and consider the views/experiences of the other participants. Unique characteristics of the process are that:

  • It is a structured conversation with ground rules.
  • It involves authentic framing or a discussion guide.
  • It involves a neutral and trained moderator and recorder.
  • It requires committed participants.