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Dialogue and Systems Thinking: Building a bridge for the practitioner

Systems thinking is a way of mapping diverse opinions and exploring that territory. The tools of systemic thinking provide the breadcrumb trail that mark the dialogical practitioner’s journey. This journey is a process that happens within a complex self-organizing system that enables people’s multi-modal engagement, in multiple ways on multiple levels.

Dialogue is a space in which groups of individuals are both validated and learn to change. Dialogue is an intentional practice that cherishes complex individuals within complex groups that exist within an intricate and complicated world. Systems thinking is about relationships which are validated and which the individuals learn to change. Systems thinking points out that the individuals together are more than they are apart. Systems thinking helps the practitioner focus on the matrix of relationships between individuals, groups and cultures. Together, this is self-organized co-intelligence.

This paper was presented as part of a panel session at NCDD’s 2004 conference. The session was called “The Contexts of Dialogue: Three Perspectives.” Panelists were John G. Bell, Antioch University Seattle; Robin R. Fenske and Patrick J. Hill, The Evergreen State College; Jolanda Westerhof-Shultz, Grand Valley State University/ College of Education.

John G. Bell, Antioch University Seattle and Robin R. Fenske, The Evergreen State College

This paper was submitted to and presented at NCDD’s 2004 conference in Denver, Colorado.

Resource Link: www.ncdd.org/exchange/files/docs/DialogueAndSystems.doc

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