Much of our work with CD has been focused on classroom contexts with a desire to provide critical pedagogical practices in a variety of classroom contexts. The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication (HDSHC) at Arizona State University is currently developing a certificate in civil communication at the undergraduate level to offer specific training in dialogue based methods of civility, application of critical civil communication skills in public spheres, and civil and productive modes of argumentation. This specialization will offer students at ASU the ability to recognize, competently practice and facilitate the ever increasing demand for civil discourse in society and workplace organizations.
For several years, CD has been taught in a class called Performance in Social Context at ASU. Our goal for using CD in this type of class is to re-frame and re-name it as a performative method. Alexander suggests that critical performative pedagogy provides the opportunity to view ourselves and others as a “barometer of truth or reality” (p. 256). This reminder that pedagogy and performance are inclusive of dialogue and generative reflections of truth is a foundational component of the use of CD in this performance studies class.
CD is easily implemented into public speaking classes as a speaking format that encourages oral communication, audience analysis and active listening. At ASU, CD is used in public speaking classes as an extension of Griffin’s (2009) notion of invitational rhetoric and Obrien’s (2009) format for listener-centered public speaking. Instructors who use CD in public speaking classes remark that it offers students a way to fight communication apprehension (stage fright) because they are speaking together as a group rather than one at a time as a lone public speaker. It also allows students to practice impromptu speaking which is a difficult public speaking skill to teach/learn.
We love that many of our colleagues and former students have taken CD with them to other colleges and universities to use the format in a variety of courses. Our goal is to continue to find innovative ways of using Civil Dialogue in the classroom.
Alexander, B. K. “Performance and Pedagogy.” Sage Handbook of Performance Studies. Eds. S.
Madison & J. Hamera. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006. 253-260.
Griffin, C. Invitation to Public Speaking (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009.
O’Brien, L. A Speaker’s Resource. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2009.
I think of CD as a format that encourages performance driven knowledge building partly because John Genette’s original design of the format was inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Legislative Theatre. Also, I like the performance quality that comes from five bodies speaking (semi-circle with eye contact) while they are “audienced” by a much larger group. The result is a collective experience of learning by the entire room that is quite dynamic and exciting! Another extension of CD as performance is the way that people use stories to articulate their position on a “hot topic.” Kristin Langellier and D. Soyini Madison are performance studies scholars who have written about the function and "possibility" of personal narrative. This fits with the way people speak about their own lives/experiences in a dialogue. It is evident that these CD participants believe (know) that truth resides in their own stories.
Jennifer Linde, M.A, is a lecturer in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and the artistic director for The Empty Space at Arizona State University. She has engaged Civil Dialogue as a pedagogical tool in performance studies classes and facilitated Civil Dialogue events in public and educational contexts since 2004.