Powered by the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)

Dialogue & Deliberation Toolkit

Welcome to ASTC's Dialogue and Deliberation Toolkit!

Dialogue & Deliberation is an approach to community science where facilitated conversations bring community members together to discuss a relevant topic and the options for addressing it. Through this approach, museums and science centers can collaborate with community-serving organizations in order to facilitate authentic dialogue and humble listening to advance local priorities.  

A neighborhood might identify the need to address flooding challenges impacting their community. Or a group may want to gather and brainstorm how to improve food access in their city. Together, individuals and organizations can use Dialogue & Deliberation to delve into real issues impacting their communities and deepen mutual understanding between participants to facilitate the development of collaborative solutions.

This toolkit can serve as a roadmap to navigate the numerous dialogue and deliberation resources and tools that have been produced by civic engagement and science-engagement organizations. These resources can provide a helpful foundation in the development of science and technology-related dialogues, as well as program models to build on, and facilitation and implementation resources.

Producing Actionable and Equitable Solutions

When employed well, Dialogue & Deliberation elevates diverse voices, enhances mutual understanding and empathy, and produces actionable, equitable solutions. It can also offer science engagement practitioners the opportunity to partner with a community to tackle pressing and controversial questions. 

Institutions like science and technology centers have powerful tools, such as physical venues, networks of expert professionals, and name recognition in their communities, to effectively lead Dialogue & Deliberation efforts on a range of topics related to science and society – the key is knowing where to start. 

Cue ASTC’s Community Science Dialogue & Deliberation toolkit! This toolkit serves as a roadmap to help you navigate Dialogue & Deliberation resources produced by a diversity of civic engagement and science engagement organizations. These resources lay a solid foundation for the development of Dialogue & Deliberation efforts on topics relevant to local communities.

Let's Get Started!

Below, you’ll find a deeper dive into what Dialogue & Deliberation is (and isn’t); video explainers and resources for five core professional skills; examples of real science center and museum collaborations; and a wealth of additional tools, guides, and other resources.

About Dialogue & Deliberation

Learn more about Dialogue & Deliberation, how it can advance community priorities, and how you can put it into practice at your science center or museum!

Dialogue & Deliberation Skills

Learn about the five core skills that ASTC has identified for science and technology center professionals looking to undertake Dialogue & Deliberation efforts. 

Dialogue & Deliberation in Action

Read examples of successful Dialogue & Deliberation efforts from other science centers and museums.

Resource Library

Explore our growing library of resources about all the Approaches to Community Science, including Dialogue & Deliberation.

AAAS Theory of Change for Public Engagement with Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Theory of Change for Public Engagement with Science synthesizes findings from a variety of public-engagement initiatives and literature and presents a concise case for meeting the articulated vision for public engagement. 

The OECD Evaluation Guidelines for Representative Deliberative Processes 

These guidelines from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provide a detailed framework for institutions who seek to strengthen their deliberative processes, and in doing so, improve their relationships with community members.

AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER)

AAAS DoSER is a program encompassing several long-term projects to build community between religious leaders and scientists, and a library of resources on ethical issues in science and religion.

Everyday Democracy

Everyday Democracy is an organization that supports groups who want to build multiracial democracies in their local communities. They provide resources and technical assistance including training, coaching, and racial equity tools that can help develop place-based engagement for community-driven solutions.

Taking the Conversation Virtual: A Primer on Moderating Online Discussions

Foundational practices for translating your knowledge of in-person discussions on community issues to the virtual world.

Keeping People Connected

A nuts-and-bolts toolkit for engaging residents in problem-solving, decision-making and community-building from Public Agenda.

Everyday Democracy's Resources for Changemakers

A wealth of resources to support the model, "Dialogue to Change," a process focused on building trust and learning about complex issues facing communities.

NISE Network Resource Collection for Forums

Resources to use across a variety of science and technology topics, including guides to hosting specific types of engagement activities—such as Science Cafes—and materials associated with topic-specific forums.

Knowledge Base by Involve

Involve is a UK-based organization that supports groups—including the government, universities and academics, parliaments, civil society, and more—in the delivery of public participation and engagement processes to improve democratic decision making.

Action Catalogue

A database of 57 methods for designing inclusive public engagement, produced by the European Union’s Engage2020 project.

Engagement Streams Framework

A guide from the National Center for Dialogue & Deliberation that outlines 22 well-known processes for Dialogue & Deliberation.

From Risk to Resiliency

A model for community dialogue programs to address local issues of environmental risk and create actionable recommendations for improving climate resiliency.

Developing Materials for Deliberative Forums

This guide provides users with the necessary guidance and essential elements for framing an issue, including what types of topics are conducive to public Dialogue & Deliberation, the background research needed in advance, and how to produce the materials.

Public Engagement with Science Forums

A model for creating conversations among publics and scientists for mutual learning and societal decision-making, developed by the Museum of Science, Boston.

Resource Guide on Public Engagement

This National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) guide provides a high-level overview to practitioners and users of the components needed to conduct Dialogue & Deliberation. The resource describes the core principles, methods of engagement, examples, and a selection of NCDD-recommended resources.

The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership

This guide can aid organizers and facilitators of community dialogue and engagement with the necessary information, framing, and tools to enable deep community participation, especially with communities that are often excluded or underrepresented.

Public Dialogue and Deliberation: A Communication Perspective for Public Engagement Practitioners

This handbook seeks to empower and enable academic researchers to improve communication skills to enhance mutual learning with the public around policy issues.

Responsible Research and Innovation Toolkit

Responsible Research and Innovation works to connect research & innovation with society through many threads, including public engagement, governance, and more. This repository compiles useful tools across participating nations in the Horizon2020 program for others to use.

Baylor Public Deliberation Initiative: Resources

Useful resources for those interested in learning more about Dialogue & Deliberation, including ground rules for designing public deliberation sessions, issue guides across topics and disciplines, facilitation trainings, and a collection of informative literature and journal articles.

National Issues Forums

A model for Dialogue & Deliberation around difficult public problems, particularly highly-partisan policy issues.