Deliberative Dialogue


Since 2013, NC Campus Compact has promoted the use of deliberative dialogue as a tool for campuses to build citizens and community.  We have trained over 400 faculty, staff, students, from 37 colleges and universities, plus community members, to facilitate deliberative dialogues. Below are the definitions of dialogue and deliberation provided by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

Dialogue is a process that allows people, usually in small groups, to share their perspectives and experiences with one another about difficult issues we tend to just debate about or avoid entirely. 

Dialogue is not about winning an argument or coming to an agreement, but about understanding and learning. Dialogue dispels stereotypes, builds trust and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own. Dialogue can, and often does, lead to both personal and collaborative action.

Deliberation is a closely related process with a different emphasis. Deliberation emphasizes the importance of examining options and trade-offs to make better decisions. Decisions about important public issues like health care and immigration are too often made through the use of power or coercion rather than a sound decision-making process that involves all parties and explores all options.

Drawing on the National Issues Forum framework, we have provided training to our member campus network so that they can learn how to facilitate a deliberative dialogue. According to NIFI “this framework ensures a careful, nonpartisan way of presenting alternative solutions to your group and welcoming their different views. Designed to produce a rich investigation into what your group is thinking about an issue, the Framework helps you arrive together at what is acceptable and what is not.” 

NC Campus Compact's efforts were featured in the National Issues Forum blog  in March 2015.

A 2015 study by CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) on Media Literacy and Implications for Youth Engagement found that communication skills can be integral to effectively working with those who have different perspectives. Some of these communication-related benchmarks and competencies - critical evaluation of evidence, taking multiple perspectives, and active listening - in the Common Core State Standards in ELA are conducive to stronger civic learning and engagement. According to CIRCLE, "as we teach young people to communicate effectively, we should look to model productive forms of agreement that seek to build closer connections between discussants.  Finding points of agreement or conceding to an opponent’s point may be one step in this direction." Learn more


The planning committee included a deliberative dialogue in the 2013 Civic Engagement Institute. Wake Forest University Professors Katy Harriger and Jill McMillan, and the president of the National Issues Forums, Bill Muse, lead the 176 institute attendees through the process of deliberative dialogue. Participants talked in small moderated groups about the choices facing higher education, using the issue guide, Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?as the common text for discussion. Participants were learning on two levels - thinking through the substantive issues surrounding the future of higher education while simultaneously learning how to deliberate about public issues. 

In 2013-14 we sponsored three trainings for 128 individuals interested in becoming moderators of deliberative dialogue.  Elon University, Warren Wilson College, and UNC Wilmington hosted the trainings. The sessions were co-sponsored by the Environmental Leadership Center and the Service Program Office at Warren Wilson College, The Division of Student Life, The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and The Office of Leadership and Professional Development at Elon University.

On March 26, 2015, NC Campus Compact hosted Dr. Harry Boyte (pictured to the right), who facilitated a dialogue training using the NIFI guide "The Changing World of Work: What Should we Ask of Higher Education." The 35 participants learned how to facilitate the dialogue and then committed to facilitating a session in their local community. 

Harry C. Boyte is founder of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, merged into the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship  at Augsburg College where he now serves as 

Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy. He is also a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Visiting Professor at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.


On September 18, 2017, NC Campus Compact facilitated a training for 11 faculty, staff, and students at Warren Willson College in Swannanoa, NC, using "The Changing World of Work" issue guide. 


Twenty Queens University faculty, staff, students, and community partners participated in a Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training on January 5, 2018. The "Changing World of Work" and "Climate Choices" issues guides were used. 

    On April 26, 2018 eleven Pfeiffer University faculty, staff, commuity partners, and students participating in Moderator Training using the "Changing World of Work" and "Climate Choices" issue guides.


    The Changing World of Work: What Should we Ask of Higher Education - this site contains the downloadable issue guide, a starter video, and the Post-Forum Questionnaire. 

    Changing World of Work - Related Articles

    What Does It Mean to Be an Educated Person Today? (Jean Johnson, National Issues Forum, Peer Review article, Summer 2015 Vol. 17 Number 3)

    Global Survey: Students Want a Bigger Focus on Career Outcomes (Diane Schaffhauser, Campus Technology article, May 7, 2015)

    What People Think about College: A Snapshot of Public Opinion (Beckie Supiano, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2015)

    Widening skills gap stalls job growth (NBC news story, April 8, 2015)

    Universities add degree programs while spurning fads (Carla Rivera, LA Times, Apil 1, 2015)

    What happens when colleges fail to prepare graduates for jobs? (Jeffrey J. Selingo, The Washington Post, March 31, 2015) 

    Higher Education, public spaces, and the democratic way of life (Harry Boyte, Huffington Post Blog, March 30, 2015)

    Troubling Attacks on Public Higher Education (Thomas Ehrlich and Ernestine Wu, Forbes article, March 23, 2015) 

    It’s Time to Trash the Terms “Non-Cogs” and “Soft Skills” (Andy Calkins, Next Generation Learning Challenges Blog, March 18, 2015)

    Democracy University (Tim Eatman and Harry Boyte, WNYC radio interview, February 9, 2015)

    "Walker's "Drafting Error" and the Democratic Promise of Executive Function" (Harry Boyte, Huffington Post blog, February 8, 2015) 

    Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want? - this site contains the downloadable issue guide, a Guide to Forums, a DVD, and Post-Forum Questionnaire.

    Dialogue Informational Sites

    Australian Citizens Parliament

    Deliberative Polling

    Kettering Foundation

    National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

    National Issues Forum

    Paticipatory Budgeting

    Study Circles


    NC Campus Compact will come to your campus to lead a deliberative dialogue moderator training. Click here to learn more about fees and logistics or contact Leslie Garvin