Using dialogue and negotiation

Solving problems associated with sustainable development is not just about changing the behaviour of individual actors, businesses and communities, but about seeking new ways of thinking about systems, neighbours and holistic planning. While individual stakeholders may make the ultimate decisions on-the-ground, others play an active role in creating the context that enables (or inhibits) sustainable development. Consequently, sustainable development extension is about engaging stakeholders (including national and regional agencies and government, science, business, and the requisite public interest groups) in the process of learning and adaptive management and about negotiating how to move forward in a complex world, where we do not have all the information. Key to this move is the development of platforms for dialogue and negotiation to occur between and across different stakeholder groups. The links below are concerned with improving opportunities and techniques for dialogic interaction. For more intractable cases a subsequent section provides links to material which can help with conflict management.

Dialogic approaches

Learning together to manage together
This book is an output from the EC-funded project – Harmonizing collaborative planning. It outlines how to operationalise social learning for water management issues, highlighting that social learning is based on dialogue. It sets out to explain why it makes more sense to be more ambitious with participatory process than just informing and consulting. It also helps outline the know how required for a successful social learning process.

Expressive lives
This Demos publication is a collection of essays that examine the idea of ‘expressive life’, and is edited by Samuel Jones. It helps us to see creativity and heritage as the fabric of our society that gives meaning and value to our lives. Contributors from across the creative and cultural sectors look at the effects of changes in people’s behaviour towards cultural institutions, developments in technology and the global exchange of different attitudes and beliefs. These combine with political uncertainty and economic upheaval to put culture and creativity at the heart of debate about the future of our communities and international relations.’

From dialogue to engagement? Learning beyond cases
This 2005 New Zealand report draws lessons across four independent pilot projects designed to trial and review approaches to science-initiated dialogue in four distinct contexts. The report identifies the benefits from good dialogue between science and its publics, the factors that contribute to good dialogue, the key capacities need for dialogue, and the implications for science.

Involving the public in science and technology decision-making: A review of national and international initiatives
This 2003 New Zealand report looks at the need for dialogue between science and its publics. It provides a review of international initiatives in this area, addresses the issues for dialogue between Maori and science, and finally discusses dialogue in the context of sustainability and ‘sustainability science’.

Mapping dialogue: a research project profiling dialogue tools and processes for social change
This manual profiles a number of methods for facilitating dialogue. Ten such methods are profiled in depth and a number of others more briefly. Some are designed for small groups of 20 people, some can accommodate up to 5000 in dialogue at the same time. Some focus on exploring and resolving conflict and differences, while others emphasise looking first to what is working and agreed upon. The manual is divided into three sections: Foundations; Toolkit; and Method choice. This 2006 manual has been developed jointly by Pioneers for Change South Africa and Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ).

Deliberative Dialogue to Expand Civic Engagement: What Kind of Talk Does Democracy Need?
This paper by Martha McCoy and Patrick Scully brings ideas and insights from their work in communities to answer the question, “What kind of public talk is most likely to expand civic engagement and make it meaningful to all sorts of people?” Their paper aims be useful not only to anyone using deliberation and dialogue for civic engagement but also to those using other kinds of civic engagement processes. Our goal is to make transparent our assumptions and working principles for effective civic engagement. By describing what we are learning, we hope to spark a larger and more comprehensive conversation among theorists and practitioners about the connection of deliberative dialogue to some of the key goals and questions of the civic movement.

Photovoice: Social change through photography
Photovoice is a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique. It entrusts cameras to the hands of people to enable them to act as recorders, and potential catalysts for social action and change, in their own communities. It uses the immediacy of the visual image and accompanying stories to furnish evidence and to promote an effective, participatory means of sharing expertise to create healthful public policy. Photovoice has three goals. It enables people to record and reflect their community’s strengths and problems. It promotes dialogue about important issues through group discussion and photographs. Finally, it engages policymakers.

Managing conflict

There is a substantial difference between pursuing a collaborative approach within an already well-functioning situation, and trying to initiate collaboration in a social environment characterised by existing conflict. In the latter case the need for effective facilitation and expert mediation of conflicts is definitely greater.

Beyond intractability
Efforts to limit the terrible destructiveness commonly associated with intractable conflicts ultimately depend on the ability of people in a full range of conflict roles to successfully play their part in a broad peacebuilding effort. Though each circumstance is, to some degree, unique, there is also much to be learned from others who have solved similar problems before. The goal of the Beyond Intractability (BI) system is to make such knowledge more widely and freely accessible, so people aren’t forced to “reinvent the wheel.” The project does not advocate or teach one particular approach. Rather, it provides access to information on many approaches which can then be adapted to many different situations. The site is managed by Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess of the Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado.

The conflict resolution information source
CRInfo is a free, online clearinghouse, indexing more than 25,000 peace- and conflict resolution-related Web pages, books, articles, audiovisual materials, organizational profiles, events, and current news articles. In addition to its easy-to-use but powerful search engine, CRInfo (along with its partner project, Beyond Intractability) provides easy browsing of information on 600 peace- and conflict resolution-related topics. The site is managed by Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess of the Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado.

Beyond Conflict to Consensus: An Introductory Learning Manual
This on-line manual by Bob Chadwick aims to help with managing conflict. If you have the desire or the intent to confront and resolve conflict, this manual can help teach you the skills. Every technique or question in here has purpose. In trying to understand the purpose, you will better understand conflict in human nature. The talking circle is the centerpiece of the consensus process because it encourages respectful listening. If you can only adopt one thing from this manual, adopt the talking circle.

Other related approaches on other pages on this site include the use of models to facilitate dialogue, and developing new networks to support dialogue  among new groupings.