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World Cafe

29 Apr 2014

World Cafe approach is a winner

A recent World Cafe event held on campus could revolutionise how academics share research and knowledge, says international relations lecturer David Roberts. 

The World Cafe is a simple, effective, and flexible method for hosting large group dialogue. Physical and virtual participants address questions and topics in small groups, with members moving between groups as the event goes on.

David and colleagues in PHIR’s Centre for the Study of International Governance used the World Cafe method to host Hearing Voices: Researching in Post-Conflict Spaces.

The event was facilitated by World Cafe expert Kirsti Norris and included academics from a range of universities in the UK and engaged participants from as far afield as Japan and Sierra Leone. Also present were Leicestershire public sector workers in the field of local conflicts. A brief report can be seen here.

David said:

“The World Cafe is an international movement that is yet to penetrate academia.

“It flattens the power structures in the traditional conference format, and enables and empowers a larger number of participants, encouraging a constant flow of information and enabling people to share ideas more freely.

“Instead of one active knowledge holder on ‘send’ to passive recipients, all are equally participatory. It is exactly the kind of innovation Research Councils seek.

“Attendees were surprised by how liberating and encouraging the event had been, and left full of new ideas. I would encourage fellow researchers to give it a try.”

David is happy to speak to colleagues interested in understanding how they might use the World Cafe method within their own research and dissemination events.

For more information on the World Cafe, visit its website.

Photo courtesy of Matt McCullock.