Key Terms

Explanations of key terms used in deliberative practice both domestically and around the world.

‘How can we enhance our capacity to talk and think more deeply together about the critical issues facing our communities, our organisations, our nations, and our planet?’

The World Café: Shaping our Futures Through Conversations that Matter, Juanita Brown, 2005

What is the World Café?

The World Café method is a discussion group aimed at involving individuals with a problem/ issue more closely to collect insight and foster constructive dialogue, and can sometimes be used as a decision-making aid. It has been utilised by community organisations, government and corporations.

This method can involve any number of participants—from tens to hundreds.Participants will be engaged in a series of curated exercises by co-ordinators, designed to encourage participation in the discussion of new ideas.

Generally speaking the World Café will be comprised of groups of around 4 or 5 people per table, which may even be set up to resemble café tables with checked tablecloths, flowers and nibbles. Participants rotate tables in 10-30 minute rounds of discussion. The participants scatter after each round—all going to different tables, with a new group formed every time. Each round is facilitated by a table host who remains and, therefore, maintains the table’s memory of previous discussions. Previous input is shared with the new group. There is no limit to the number of rounds. The purpose is to touch on different aspects of the problem/issue, to deepen discussion/understanding and generate ideas, sometimes in order to establish the extent of common ground.

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What is the planning cell method?

Planning cells are a form of deliberative democracy used as a decision making tool to develop a set of solutions to a problem delegated by a government body or organisation. The method encourages its participants to come to a neutral, fact-based conclusion that takes into consideration the views of all parties involved.

The method is designed to increase citizen participation and improve outcomes for contentious issues, and also to reduce real or perceived imbalance of power between everyday citizens and decision makers in power. Planning cells have had a long and varied history of successes since the 1970s, and have been used at local, state and national levels.

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