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At a time when society is plagued with complex problems, leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate polarized public opinions. While many universities are reluctant to engage in highly controversial issues, some are exploring forms of deliberative civic engagement — processes where people participate in meaningful dialogue about how to tackle today’s complex and seemingly intractable problems.

The Talloires Network’s Executive Director Lorlene Hoyt launched the Talloires Network’s Deliberative Civic Engagement Initiative, a multi-year writing and research collaboration with the Kettering Foundation.

The current and past cohorts learn about innovative, university-led approaches to public deliberation by exchanging experiences and best practices from their civic engagement work. Participants — some of whom have past experience with the Foundation — also learn about Kettering’s research on deliberative concepts and practice. This year’s cohort is focusing on dialogue and deliberation methods for bridging differences at each of their respective campuses.


The cohort considered questions such as:

  • How do institutions in different social and political contexts understand dialogue and deliberation as an approach to civic engagement?
  • Why do universities and communities around the world value and practice dialogue and deliberation?
  • How are universities experimenting with community partnerships, research and outreach in ways that enhance public dialogue and deliberation?
  • How can student participation in dialogue and deliberation strengthen student capacities for ethical thinking and decision-making?
  • How does student participation in dialogue and deliberation influences self-reflection, perceptions of local issues, as well as their inclination and ability to take public action?
  • How are deliberative forums convened and moderated?
  • What are common critiques of deliberation, and how might they be addressed in practice?

The 2018 Cohort

Zainab Akef, Psychology Department, American University in Cairo, Egypt

Derek Barker, Program Officer,  Kettering Foundation

Telma Gimenez, Associate Professor, Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Brazil

Lorlene Hoyt, Executive Director, Talloires Network, Tufts University, USA

Hlekani Kabiti, Walter Sisulu University, Post Doctoral Fellow, South Africa

Janice McMillan, Center for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Martin Ocholi, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Hadassa (Dassi) Postan-Aizik, Department of Social Work, Yezreel Valley College, Israel

Stan Hok-Wui Wong, Department of Applied Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Paul Yeboah, University Relations, University of Mines and Technology, Ghana

Learn about the 2017 cohort here.