The Dialogue Programme at the International Student Week in Ilmenau (ISWI) 2021 seeks to enable an open and respectful dialogue aimed at learning from one another. The organisers hope to enhance mutual understanding and develop respect for varied perspectives between the participants on contentious topics and issues. We will be using the dialogue methodology developed and practised by the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue (NCPD).
The Dialogue Programme to be held in Ilmenau, Germany will be conducted in two parts, the first includes dialogue sessions from 22nd May to 27th May 2021 followed by participation in one of the groups of ISWI 2021 conference. The conference will be held from 28th May to 6th June 2021 in Ilmenau. Participants in the Dialogue Programme will thus have a stay of 16 days in Ilmenau, Germany.
The broad topic of the dialogue sessions is ‘Climate Change’ and dialogue will be held in two parallel dialogue groups.
ISWI 2021 provides a platform for youth from across the globe to discuss pressing issues of our time, to gather wide-ranging perspectives, and to work together towards a peaceful and sustainable future. It is organised by the Initiative Solidarische Welt Ilmenau e.V., a student-led NGO based on the campus of TU-Ilmenau. ISWI 2021 is based on the topic of ‘Climate Change, Environmental Conservation, and Sustainability’. The participants of the Dialogue Programme are exempted from the ISWI 2021 application process.
The Dialogue Programme will be held using the English language.
“Dialogue is an open communication process that aims to build or rebuild relationships between people as they share experiences, ideas and information about a common concern. It also aims to help groups to take in more information and perspectives than they previously had in order to get a new and broader understanding of a situation. This process happens through deep listening and asking open and not leading questions, instead of argumentative responses. This requires interest to learn more about others’ unique experiences, beliefs and thoughts. It requires humility to recognize that one person or group does not have the whole truth and that everything we experience is shaped by factors like age, class, religion, ethnicity, geography or gender.
A dialogue offers an open space, where people can be honest about their similarities and differences and learn to live within an environment of disagreements. This learning process might expand people’s ability to act with empathy and care for others, even if they are perceived as outsiders. This behavioural change is the goal with dialogue and will over time influence the development in a society.”
– As defined by the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue.
In a dialogue, participants shall set the ground rules for their dialogue together and are encouraged to take complete ownership over the conversation. Thus, dialogue sessions are facilitated rather than moderated. A facilitator is entrusted with the duty of creating the space for an open respectful group process. The facilitator does not participate in decision-making, but rather ensures that the contributions of all participants are taken into account and everyone feels safe to take part. Training to develop facilitation capabilities is provided by the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue.
The overarching context of the dialogue is ‘Climate Change’. This topic involves a wide range of aspects and subtopics that relate to each individual differently. You, as a participant, will be the owner of the conversation: You will decide, together as a group and by trying to reach group-consensus, on the specific sub-topics to engage in throughout the 5- days dialogue programme. The first phase of the programme will be dedicated to this consensus decision-making group process.
The Dialogue Programme is organised by the Ilmenau Dialogue Center (IDC), with support and training from the NCPD, and contributions from the Empirische Medienforschung und Politische Kommunikation (EMPK) as well as an exchange of know-how from the Dialogue Group of the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT). The IDC is currently a project organised by the members and collaborators of the Initiative Solidarische Welt Ilmenau e.V., a student-led association on the campus of TU Ilmenau.Key goals for the IDC are:
- To understand and apply dialogue as a tool for enhancing mutual understanding.
- To build capacities to facilitate different forms of dialogue.
- To organise and host regular dialogue sessions in Ilmenau.
- To promote dialogue as a methodology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
The Dialogue Programme at ISWI 2021 will be the first topic-based dialogue session conducted by the IDC. The members of the organising team will fulfill the role of ‘Facilitators’.
The NCPD is a knowledge centre and meeting point for dialogue and conflict transformation. The centre provides training courses and facilitates dialogue. NCPD promotes peace, human rights, dialogue and reconciliation through training courses, documentation and sharing knowledge based on field experiences. The centre conducts peace and dialogue work both in Norway and internationally and has been active in Western Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Poland, and more. In Norway, the centre cooperates with schools, municipalities, cultural and religious organisations, museums, colleges and universities.
By facilitating dialogue in divided communities, NCPD helps build bridges across ethnic, cultural, political and social divides. Experience proves that targeted efforts are required overtime to develop strategies and tools for preventing, managing and transforming conflicts. The centre is located at the Nansen Academy in Lillehammer, Norway.
The research group EMPK deals with (public) communication about socially relevant problems like climate change, energy turn, migration, corona crises, and digitalisation in education. The focus of the research group lies in the investigation of reception (media use and media effects) as well as on the analysis of the media content related to these phenomena.
As such, the research group analyses these foci with broad methodological expertise, such as representative panel-surveys, qualitative and quantitative content analysis and qualitative interviews.
ISFiT is the world’s largest international student festival, taking place every alternate year in February in Trondheim, Norway. It has been organised every second year since 1990, gathering students from all over the world for ten days of dialogue, cultural events, workshops and more. The next festival takes place in February 2021, and will invite students from different backgrounds to discuss the theme “Creating Knowledge”.
The Dialogue Group at ISFiT is organised as a separate section to enable and facilitate dialogue on diverse and important topics. Since 1997, the Dialogue Group has facilitated dialogue seminars with students from different parts of the world, including South Africa, Guatemala and the Balkans.