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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

What is a facilitator?

Facilitators play a key role in shaping how participants talk, listen, and reflect on ideas during conversation, making them critical to the success of public forums. They are part of a larger convening team that takes responsibility for organizing, conducting, and reviewing the outcomes of public conversation.  Trained facilitators prepare themselves by knowing the goals of the convening team as well as by employing skills that enable participants to be successful with their conversation.  Some of these skills include strategic questioning, courageous listening, and making space for under-represented voices. These skills take practice, and facilitation is a learned craft.  Facilitators help the advance planning process of designing a structure for the conversation event or series.  The structure may follow one or more process models that have been selected to meet the goals of the convening team.  

Where do I find facilitator training?

ICDD offers workshops that train practitioners in the planning phases of facilitation and in-the-moment strategies.  We organize facilitator workouts to help practitioners review and practice specific skills and models of public conversation. There are also online sites that offer facilitation training specific to their process models, such as Appreciative Inquiry, National Issues Forums, or Sustained Dialogue

To inquire about ICDD training or practice opportunities, please email icdd@k-state.edu

What kinds of public conversations are facilitated by ICDD

ICDD Associates and Affiliates have facilitated public conversations on a wide range of issues.  Some examples:

  • Public health: Flood and hurricane after-action forums, Hunger and healthy food access deliberations 
  • Arts engagement: Visual Thinking Strategies dialogues; Strategic planning for cultural heritage institutions 
  • Environmental sustainability: Water, energy, and climate change forums
  • Community relations: Safety and justice forums, Community conversations on race & reconciliation
  • Affordable housing: neighborhood revitalization, code enforcement, and community land trust planning
  • Active citizenship: National issues forums, deliberative skills development, voter participation campaigning

To request professional ICDD facilitation services, please email icdd@k-state.edu