Dialogue & Deliberation for Civic
Engagement in Chicago
IPCE is exploring the ways the University can help broaden and deepen
the engagement of Chicago-area residents in public policy and community
issues—particularly at the neighborhood, city, and county levels—through
the use of dialogue and deliberative processes. A national and international
dialogue and deliberation movement has been transforming democracy in
cities around the world. IPCE is seeking to understand what that movement
might offer to Chicago.
Our exploration began with conversations with practitioners in this field,
including individuals and organizations who lead or facilitate dialogue
and deliberative processes in Chicago. We learned that practitioners
are engaged in a wide range of activities, including community-building
dialogues and explorations, deliberative decision-making processes with
citizen participation, collaborative organizing and action, and conflict
transformation. However, we also learned that these efforts in Chicago tend
to be isolated, lack a common language, and have tremendous potential for
collective, long-term impact.
This unique moment in Chicago history—with new political leadership and
complex policy challenges—has created both the opportunity and need for
new forms of civic engagement that draw on the wisdom of residents as
well as the expertise of practitioners. Convening Chicago-area dialogue and
deliberation practitioners in an informal community of practice could lay the
groundwork for embedding a culture of dialogue and deliberation in Chicago
communities and local government.
On December 5, 2012, over 75 local practitioners came together to hear
and discuss our project findings and explore what it would take to develop
Chicago's "civic infrastructure" via a local community of practice. Sandy
Heierbacher, Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
(NCDD), also joined us as our guest speaker to share a national perspective
and the latest thinking on creating a "civic infrastructure."
The full report, executive summary, and convening highlights can be found at