What Kind of dialogue?

Promoting the transformative force of dialogue

It is widely acknowledged that the world is changing rapidly. This is so not just because of the changing challenges confronting us in an increasingly multipolar and globalising world. In parallel, the requirements to be met by all those people and organisations militating for a better world have changed profoundly and grown in number. This affects both content (doing the right things) and the manner of acting in partnership and cooperation (doing things right). Whilst commitment and professionalism are crucial to successful action and interaction, they are not enough. Having knowledge of the culture, possessing expertise and an understanding of the context, or acting in genuine partnership are just as important components, but they condition readiness to listen and learn from one another. Communication is enlightening, mutual learning in dialogue is transformative. Through exchange and joint reflection «across cultural, geographical and disciplinary boundaries», we hope to gain a better understanding of what others are doing and thinking, as well as what we ourselves are doing and believing. This understanding is the basis and prerequisite for doing the right things, as well as doing those things right.

Learning from contexts … for contexts     

No one, no organisation, and no school of thought can claim to know all burning questions in this world, let alone the answers. Relevant questions do not arise in a vacuum but in different geographic and cultural contexts. And answers are only relevant when they are understood in the most diverse contexts, when they are significant and provide players with broader scope for action. Along the "ask-answer-test" chain of effects, dialogue4change wants to foster a dialogue process, which (i) by understanding the challenges in different contexts leads to pertinent questions, (ii) lays the basis for substantive responses in the learning environment, and (iii) tests the new insights in practice and translates them into action in different contexts. When all three levels function together, the outcome is the form of dialogue that promises transformative action.

Exploring space for dialogue

The transformative power of dialogue rests on the diversity of world views, knowledge and life concepts. But it is also based on the understanding that "dialogue which transcends contexts and boundaries" must be shaped and nurtured. Boundaries make diversity possible and ensure self-determination; but they can also separate and prove to be obstacles to understanding. What we therefore need are suitable channels and spaces for dialogue. Dialogue4change participates actively in debates in the international arena; but it also initiates and participates in trans-contextual exchange at local levels. To this end, it seeks spaces for communication that are attuned to the needs of participating groups in expressing themselves. Such spaces can be found in the shade of baobab trees or in big-city backyards, just as they can in the new social communications media. Dialogue4change specifically looks for suitable spaces for dialogue in order to explore and understand the diversity of alternative worldviews, thereby giving rise to something new.