Dialogue & Deliberation for Civic Engagement in Chicago


IPCE is exploring how 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. 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."

To learn more about our project findings, see the links below.


Dialogue & Deliberation for Civic Engagement in Chicago


This report is motivated by three purposes 1) to provide a survey or a ‘lay of the land’ of the dialogue and deliberation field: the who, what and how of dialogue and deliberation in Chicago; 2) to create a resource for dialogue and deliberation organizations and practitioners as a first step of building a dialogue and deliberation community of practice in Chicago; and 3) to inform IPCE about the role it can play in supporting and promoting dialogue and deliberation in Chicago.

The hope is that this report will inform, stimulate further discussion, and potentially encourage cooperation among local dialogue and deliberation practitioners, sponsors, conveners, and other interested parties.   

Executive Summary (click here)

Full Report (click here)



Dialogue & Deliberation for Civic Engagement in Chicago Report Highlights




Community of Practice & Civic Infrastructure Highlights, presented by Sandy Heierbacher, Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)


Highlights from the Community of Practice Harvest (click here)


Video highlights



If you would like to send comments or contribute additional updates to the report, use the form below or send an email to neramos@uic.edu.

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IPCE conducts and supports research on civic engagement practice and theory. Our research emphasizes the use of technology to enhance and inform citizen engagement in our democracy, as well as to enhance and inform government decision-making and service delivery.