Winter 2013 Newsletter

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

Copyright © 2013, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

University of Illinois at Chicago
Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement
College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA)
412 S. Peoria Street, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60607
P: (312) 355-0088