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Facilitating Dialogue for Community Engagement

April 21 @ 8:30 am - 4:30 pm


An engaged and impassioned community strengthens our democracy, but leading effective dialogue for community engagement has become increasingly difficult, and when derailed, can lead to chaos. Our highly polarized politics contributes to a “win-lose” mentality, limited resources heighten the stakes, and a frayed trust makes tackling public issues fraught. Designing and facilitating effective community dialogue requires coolness, clarity, courage and skill, as well as a clear and effective meeting structure.

The University of Iowa and Iowa Campus Compact are teaming up to improve Iowa’s public conversations with the “What’s Next, Iowa?” initiative, a hub for community-based engagement. We will provide training and materials to help community members lead difficult discussions about public issues. This University-Community partnership is sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Department of Communication Studies and Office of Outreach and Engagement and Iowa Campus Compact. Current Partners include: Golden Hills RC&D, Iowa Valley RC&D, Northeast Iowa RC&D, and Pathfinders RC&D.

Those interested in building their community-based engagement skills are invited to join us for a workshop applying Essential Partners’ time-tested dialogue and community engagement methods for helping communities hold constructive public conversations. Participants will be encouraged to remain connected in a Community of Practice and consider being part of the ongoing “What’s Next, Iowa?” initiative.

The workshop will be led by Cara Cargill from Boston-based Essential Partners.

Learning Objectives:

  • Achieve clarity of purposes and expectations for a dialogue
  • Understand and practice preparation and design for more impactful dialogues
  • Learn processes for establishing constructive group norms
  • Understand how to construct “safe-enough” space for open-hearted engagement across the aisle and beyond
  • Develop confidence in your ability to facilitate through challenging moments

As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Design an environment for the productive discussion of divisive community problems
  • Anticipate and plan for possible problems in order to avoid disruption
  • Facilitate through challenging moments with more confidence
  • Diffuse “us” vs. “them” dynamics by establishing a baseline of mutual understanding

The workshop is open to anyone seeking to establish constructive working relationships with between their organizations and surrounding community, including:

  • Non-profit and community leaders
  • Higher education faculty, staff and students
  • K-12 teachers, staff, and administrators
  • City and other public officials and staff
  • Advocates planning a community dialogue on a public issue

A limited number of spots is available, so please register early! Registration will close on February 28, 2018 or when all slots are taken.

Campus Compact staff, faculty and student leaders can register for 50% off the full registration cost by using the offer code “compact.”


April 21
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Event Category:


Iowa Campus Compact
(515) 235-4684


Iowa Center for Higher Education
2500 Fleur Drive
Des Moines,
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