Building Capacity for Dialogue Facilitation in Public Engagement Around Research
AbstractThis paper shares our experiences and reflections on a training programme which seeks to build capacity, across the public research sector in Scotland, for developing and facilitating dialogic approaches to public engagement. We came to an interest in dialogue and deliberation by different routes, but got the opportunity to collaborate on this thanks to institutional funding for culture change around public engagement in the sector. The analytical framework from which we developed the training focuses especially on the micro-politics of communication patterns in deliberative and dialogic engagement processes. The training programme thus sought both to raise awareness of the principles and practices of dialogue, and to build skills in the demanding craft of facilitation. Our training approach has two key features: it integrates theory and practice; and it endeavours to make the general themes of dialogue and deliberation relevant to the specific context of public engagement activities in universities and research institutes. Feedback from participants over four years indicates that this approach is working: awareness and skills are growing in quite concrete ways. In addition, there are encouraging signs of shifts and reflection over the ‘expert culture’ in this community of practice.