“What am I carrying back to my own situation?": A whole-conference dialogue

Led by Peter Taylor , Science in a Changing World graduate track , UMass Boston, peter.taylor@umb.edu
with much-appreciated assistance from Sean Ferguson and others
to close the Knowledge from the Margins Conference , Michigan State University, August 18-19, 2015

The turn-taking dialogue process is primarily a way for each person to listen well to themselves given what they hear others -- and themselves -- say. From listening well to oneself follows well-informed commitment to act and action. In other words, we learn from others, but we don't expect the action that follows derives from our having found a single synthetic voice. The dialogue process at KFM will be book-ended by Freewriting and Check-in at the start, and Individual syntheses and Closing sharing at the end. This five-phase format used in group meetings that are reflective and generative will be tweaked at KFM to work in a large-group setting. (For more background, view http://wp.me/p1gwfa-kL and follow links.)

Shortlink to access this page: http://bit.ly/KFM2015

Visual aids for closing session, 5.15-6.30 on August 19. (handout)
Visual aids for warm-up session, 10-11.15 on August 18. (handout)

Participants are welcome to use the discussion post on this page to add reflections.


One-page handout distributed, Overview of process & the 5 phases (with details to be given as each phase begins), Goals, Sources

Goals of session

Tangible goals
Experiential goals

Prompt for Freewriting

"When asked what do I want to carry back from KFM to my own situation, the questions, conclusions, connections, feelings that come to mind include..."

Prompt for Check-in

One thing that is on top for you as you come into this closing KFM session. It may be a concern or question about the topic of the session, or it may be something else going on for you. Share this with a neighbor.

Guidelines for contributions to the turn-taking dialogue

1. In the Dialogue Process meaning evolves through collaborative exploration of the topic. The exploration and collaboration is helped if you: minimize assertions of ideas you had already arrived at before the session—instead try to express questions or uncertainties that you are chewing on; make the entire thought process visible—how you arrived at what you are thinking; speak in ways that invite others to add new dimensions to what you are thinking; listen well—to yourself as well as others.

2. Turn-taking within speaking circle: You won't listen well if you are thinking about whether you will get to talk next or are holding on tight to what you want to say. So take a numbered card when you feel that you would like a turn, but then keep listening. When your turn comes, show your numbered card, and pause. See if you have something to follow what is being said, even if it is not the thought you had wanted to say. You can pass.
Try to make the turn-taking administer itself so the facilitator can listen well and participate without distraction. When you finish speaking (or if you decide to pass), put your numbered card on the stack of used cards so the person with the next numbered card knows that they can begin. The facilitator's role becomes simply to gently remind people, if needed, to follow the guidelines.

For participants in the speaking circle:

5. Periods of silence are OK. That is time in which to reflect on what has been said and to add to or clarify your thinking about “What am I carrying back from KFM to my own situation?"

6. Confidentiality: The session is a container. Do not speak afterwards about what is said in the dialogue by attributing it to anyone, even if you don't name the person. Instead, simply talk about what you are thinking or inquiring about as a result of having been in today's session. If you speak to anyone from this group about what they said, follow the same genuine inquiry you practice here.

Prompt for personal syntheses

Spend a few minutes writing down what has emerged that is most meaningful for you.

Closing Circle

For all participants: Share something you plan to chew on from the session. To provide a chance for everyone to be heard, keep these VERY short—a word or short phrase may be sufficient. There is no need to explain the thinking behind the word or phrase—the result will be a collage more than a text.


Handbook of tools & processes, Taylor, P. J., & Szteiter, J. (2012). Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement. Arlington, MA: The Pumping Station: http://bit.ly/TYS2012
Dialogue Process: http://www.faculty.umb.edu/peter_taylor/DialogueProcess.html
New England Workshop on Science & Social Change (5-day workshops in Woods Hole each May)