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. 

Since then we have facilitated trainings at the following institutions and gatherings:

2013-14 - Trainings at Elon University, Warren Wilson College, and UNC Wilmington 
2015 - Training at Elon University featuring Dr. Harry Boyte  (pictured).  Boyte is the 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.



2017 - Training at Warren Wilson College  

2018 - Trainings at Queens University of Charlotte, Pfeiffer University, the Florida Campus Compact Professional Development Conference (Miami, FL), and the Virginia Campus Compact Pre-Conference at James Madison University's Engagement for the Public Good conference (Harrisonburg, VA)


    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) 

    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