Listening-based dialogue: Circle of dialogue wisdom / Diálogo basado en la escucha: Círculos de diálogo entre saberes

By Adriana Moreno Cely, Darío Cuajera Nahui, César Gabriel Escobar Vásquez, Tom Vanwing and Nelson Tapia Ponce

1. Adriana Moreno Cely; 2. Darío Cuajera Nahui; 3. César Gabriel Escobar Vásquez; 4. Tom Vanwing; 5. Nelson Tapia Ponce (biographies)

A Spanish version of this post is available.

How can marginalised knowledge systems really make themselves heard in collaborative research? What’s needed for research decolonisation to properly recognise Indigenous and local knowledge? How can power imbalances be bridged to ensure that everyone has an equal voice?

We describe the “circle of dialogue wisdom” as a methodological framework to reconceptualise participation, empowerment and collaboration. The framework has 6 phases, which should be seen as spiral and iterative rather than linear.

The six phases, shown in the figure below are:

    1. Knowing each other
    2. Concerting rules for participation
    3. Creating safe spaces
    4. Building affection
    5. Opening spaces for co-creating solutions
    6. Taking solutions to practice (Moreno-Cely, et al., 2021).

1. Knowing each other

The aim of this phase is to get to know each other in a way that allows each person to recognise and connect to the world of each other person. The guiding principle is relationality, and the goals are to:

  • cultivate relational accountability
  • build ethical relationships
  • create a collective-we.

This can be achieved through multi-lateral meetings, face-to-face encounters, assemblies and “listening-being.” In addition, the following questions can aid deep reflection on the partnership and its benefits:

  • Do we know the socio-political environment of the project?
  • Does the research benefit the community?
  • Who must be involved in the search for solutions?
  • What are our real motivations in this partnership?
  • How will differences in culture, worldviews, etc., affect our dialogue?

2. Concerting rules for participation

Here the aim is to go beyond symbolic participation towards the creation of a respectful and supportive alliance, where all parties have responsibilities and obligations to maintain the collective-we. The guiding principle is respect, and the goals are to:

  • be sentipensante (ie., be able to conduct an internal dialogue that arises from reflection and leads to intentionality)
  • reconstruct ethical principles and values
  • learn to listen.

This can be achieved by multi-layered reflexivity (self, interpersonal and collective) and positionality. Circle of dialogue wisdom should not be understood as another encounter where people meet to talk. Instead, it is an ethical space to engage in a dialogue of wisdom, with a real interest in listening to the other(s), discovering new things, and embracing diversity, complementarity and divergence. Helpful questions to guide this phase include:

  • What is our positionality?
  • What is our role in the research?
  • What conditions are needed to engage with other participants in a listening dialogue?
  • What are our hidden assumptions, values and interests?

3. Creating safe spaces

Safety is related to:

  • participants being able to express to each other their deepest thoughts without fear
  • building trustful and respectful relationships
  • being able to manage the unknown―especially situations where participants do not know each other, the language, or the topic under consideration―as well as associated discomfort and anxiety
  • maintaining harmony even when there are disagreements and misunderstandings.

The guiding principle is reciprocity, and the goals are to:

  • unlearn our privileges
  • learn to trust
  • develop empathy skills
  • build ethical spaces.

Useful methods include using anonymity to deal with power; workshops, participatory mapping and scenario planning; and rituals and ceremonies. It is also helpful to reflect on questions such as:

  • Are we using our privilege to impose our views?
  • Do our methods contribute to marginalising participants?
  • What should be done to transform fear into trust?
  • Are we comfortable with the partners? Do they feel comfortable with us?

4. Building affection

The aim is to recognise the value and potential that exist in diversity, as well as to foster reciprocity when exchange occurs. The guiding principle is complementarity, and the goals are to:

  • learn to share
  • strengthen relationships
  • create synergies
  • put people at the centre.

This involves valuing people’s qualities, and sharing tasks and responsibilities. Questions to ponder include:

  • Are we giving more than we are receiving, or do we expect to receive more than we offer?
  • Are we providing spaces for emotions and feelings? Or are we only paying attention to knowledge?

5. Co-creating solutions

The aim is to move from monologues disguised as dialogues and instead create learning communities, which open collaborative solutions spaces where partners share their know-how, expertise, time and all their available resources for the well-being and benefit of the group. The guiding principle is unity, and the goals are to:

  • embrace complexity and uncertainty
  • re-value local and Indigenous knowledge
  • decolonise knowledge, being and actions.

Useful activities include building learning communities, land-based learning approaches, as well as sharing information, spirituality and emotions. Questions for reflection include:

  • are we aware of dominant discourses?
  • are we open to ontological and epistemological differences and pluralism?
  • do we value local knowledge as scientific?
  • do research activities, and practices perpetuate colonial schemes and values of the elite?
  • are we listening to and valuing all proposals?

6. Taking solutions to practice

The aim is to build collective ownership to co-design, co-monitor and co-evaluate solutions, embracing the plurality of rationalities where different knowledge systems have a place. The guiding principle is plurality, and the goals are to:

  • unlearn being competitive
  • learn to work together
  • build collective responsibility.

Approaches to achieve this include: sharing responsibilities, co-design, co-monitoring and co-evaluating. Helpful questions include:

  • are we sharing control?
  • are we reducing the effects of power in the decision-making processes, and how is this being achieved?
  • what actions are we taking to guarantee real partnership in all stages of the process?
Circle of dialogue wisdom (Moreno-Cely, et al. 2021).

Concluding questions

Do you have additional principles, approaches and questions that you have found useful? Do you have examples of how you have achieved truly effective collaborations between different ways of knowing? Do you have lessons to share of things to watch out for?

To find out more:
Moreno-Cely., A., Cuajera-Nahui., D., Escobar-Vasquez., C., Vanwing., T. and Tapia-Ponce., N. (2021). Breaking monologues in collaborative research: Bridging knowledge systems through a listening-based dialogue of wisdom approach. Sustainability Science, 16: 919–931. (Online) (DOI): This paper contains references to the ideas presented in this blog post.


Adriana Moreno Cely is a PhD researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels, VUB), Belgium. Her research interests include collaborative and participatory research approaches, decolonising knowledge production, and building sustainable territories through re-valuing Indigenous and local knowledge.

Dario Cuajera Nahui is a biostatistics and agroecology professor and PhD researcher at the University Mayor de San Simon in Bolivia. His research interests are socio-ecological resilience and territorial planning.

Cesar Escobar Vasquez is currently a rural sociology professor and PhD researcher at the University Mayor de San Simon in Bolivia. His research interests are territorial planning, governance and local sustainable development.

Tom Vanwing PhD is deputy head of the Department of Educational Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels, VUB) and program manager of the bachelor and master program Agogische Wetenschappen, Belgium. His research interests involve contemporary developmental issues and transitions with a focus on communities through an intersectional approach.

Nelson Tapia Ponce PhD is a specialist in agroecology and family agriculture. He is currently a professor and coordinator of the Agroecology Center Universidad Cochabamba (AGRUCO) postgraduate program at the University Mayor de San Simon in Bolivia. His areas of interest are agroecology and Andean culture.

Diálogo basado en la escucha: Círculos de diálogo entre saberes / Listening-based dialogue: Circle of dialogue wisdom

An English version of this post is available.

¿Cómo pueden los sistemas de conocimiento que han sido marginados realmente hacerse oír en los espacios de investigación colaborativa? ¿Qué se necesita para que la descolonización de la investigación reconozca realmente el conocimiento indígena y local? ¿Cómo se pueden romper los desequilibrios generados por las relaciones de poder para garantizar que todos los sistemas de conocimiento sean escuchados y reconocidos como iguales?

Describimos los “círculos de diálogo entre saberes” como un marco metodológico para reconceptualizar la participación, el empoderamiento y la colaboración. La metodología propuesta tiene 6 fases, que deben verse como espacios de reflexión espirales e iterativas en lugar de lineales.

Las seis fases, que se muestran en la siguiente figura son:

  1. Conociéndonos
  2. Concertar normas para la participación
  3. Creando espacios seguros
  4. Construyendo afectos
  5. Abrir espacios para co-crear soluciones
  6. Llevando soluciones a la práctica (Moreno-Cely, et al. 2021).

1. Conociéndonos

El objetivo de esta fase es llegar a conocerse de una manera que permita a cada persona reconocerse y conectarse con el mundo de los demás. El principio rector es la relacionalidad y los objetivos son:

  • cultivar la responsabilidad relacional
  • construir relaciones éticas
  • crear un nosotros colectivo.

Esto se puede lograr a través de reuniones multilaterales, encuentros, asambleas y “escucha consciente”. Las siguientes preguntas pueden ayudar a reflexionar de manera profunda sobre la colaboración y sus beneficios:

  • ¿Conocemos el entorno sociopolítico del proyecto?
  • ¿La investigación beneficia a la comunidad?
  • ¿Quiénes deben participar en la búsqueda de soluciones?
  • ¿Cuáles son nuestras verdaderas motivaciones en esta colaboración?
  • ¿Cómo afectan las diferencias culturales, visiones del mundo, etc. a nuestro diálogo?

2. Concertar normas para la participación

Aquí el objetivo es ir más allá de la participación simbólica hacia la creación de una alianza respetuosa y solidaria, donde todas las partes tienen responsabilidades y obligaciones para mantener el colectivo-nosotros. El principio rector es el respeto y los objetivos son:

  • ser sentipensante (es decir, poder mantener un diálogo interno que surge de la reflexión y que conduce a la intencionalidad)
  • reconstruir principios y valores éticos
  • aprender a escuchar.

Esto se puede lograr mediante la reflexividad múltiple (personal, interpersonal y colectiva) y de nuestra posicionalidad. Los círculos de diálogo entre sabidurías no deben entenderse como otro encuentro donde la gente se reúne para hablar. En cambio, es un espacio ético para entablar un diálogo entre sabidurías, con un interés real en escuchar al otro(s), descubrir cosas nuevas y abrazar la diversidad, la complementariedad y la divergencia. Las preguntas útiles para guiar esta fase incluyen:

  • ¿Cuál es nuestra posicionalidad?
  • ¿Cuál es nuestro papel en la investigación?
  • ¿Qué condiciones se necesitan para comprometerse con otros participantes en un diálogo de escucha?
  • ¿Cuáles son nuestras suposiciones, juicios, valores e intereses ocultos?

3. Creando espacios seguros

La seguridad está relacionada con:

  • que los participantes puedan expresarse sus pensamientos más profundos entre sí, sin miedo
  • construir relaciones de confianza y respeto
  • ser capaz de manejar lo desconocido, especialmente situaciones en las que los participantes no se conocen entre sí, el idioma o el tema en consideración, así como el malestar y la ansiedad asociados con lo desconocido
  • mantener la armonía incluso cuando hay desacuerdos y malentendidos.

El principio rector es la reciprocidad y los objetivos son:

  • desaprender nuestros privilegios
  • aprender a confiar
  • desarrollar habilidades de empatía
  • construir espacios éticos.

Los métodos útiles incluyen el uso del anonimato para lidiar con el poder; talleres, mapeo participativo y planificación de escenarios; y rituales y ceremonias. También es útil reflexionar sobre cuestiones como:

  • ¿Estamos usando nuestro privilegio para imponer nuestros puntos de vista?
  • ¿Contribuyen nuestros métodos a marginar a los participantes?
  • ¿Qué se debe hacer para transformar el miedo en confianza?
  • ¿Nos sentimos cómodos con los otros? ¿Se sienten ellos cómodos con nosotros?

4. Construyendo afectos

El objetivo es reconocer el valor y potencial que existe en la diversidad, así como fomentar la reciprocidad cuando se producen los intercambios de conocimiento. El principio rector es la complementariedad y los objetivos son:

  • aprender a compartir
  • fortalecer las relaciones
  • crear sinergias
  • situar a las personas en el centro de las prioridades.

Esto implica valorar las cualidades de las personas y compartir tareas y responsabilidades.
Las preguntas para reflexionar incluyen:

  • ¿Estamos dando más de lo que recibimos o esperamos recibir más de lo que ofrecemos?
  • ¿Estamos brindando espacios para las emociones y los sentimientos? ¿O solo estamos prestando atención al conocimiento?

5. Co-creación de soluciones

El objetivo es pasar de los monólogos disfrazados de diálogos y, en cambio, crear comunidades de aprendizaje, que abran espacios donde se generen soluciones colaborativas, en el que los participantes comparten sus conocimientos, experiencia, tiempo y todos sus recursos disponibles para el bienestar y beneficio del grupo. El principio rector es la unidad y los objetivos son:

  • abrazar la complejidad y la incertidumbre
  • revalorizar el conocimiento local e indígena
  • descolonizar el conocimiento, el ser y las acciones.

Las actividades que se pueden utilizar incluyen la construcción de comunidades de aprendizaje, enfoques de aprendizaje basados en el dialogo con el territorio, así como compartir información, espiritualidad y emociones. Las preguntas para la reflexión incluyen:

  • ¿Somos conscientes de los discursos dominantes?
  • ¿Estamos abiertos a las diferencias ontológicas y epistemológicas y al pluralismo?
  • ¿Valoramos el conocimiento local como científico?
  • ¿Las actividades y prácticas de investigación perpetúan los esquemas y valores coloniales de la élite?
  • ¿Estamos escuchando y valorando todas las propuestas?

6. Llevando soluciones a la práctica

El objetivo es construir un sentido de pertenencia colectiva para co-diseñar, co-monitorear y co-evaluar soluciones, abrazando la pluralidad de racionalidades donde diferentes sistemas de conocimiento tienen cabida. El principio rector es la pluralidad y los objetivos son:

  • desaprender a ser competitivo
  • aprender a trabajar juntos
  • construir responsabilidad colectiva.

Los enfoques para lograr esto incluyen: compartir responsabilidades, co-diseño, co-seguimiento y co-evaluación. Las preguntas útiles incluyen:

  • ¿estamos compartiendo el control?
  • ¿Estamos reduciendo los efectos que tienen las relaciones de poder en los procesos de toma de decisiones y cómo se está logrando?
  • ¿Qué acciones estamos tomando para garantizar una colaboración real en todas las etapas del proceso?
Círculos de diálogo entre saberes (Moreno-Cely, et al. 2021).

Preguntas finales

Desde tus experiencias ¿Tiene principios, enfoques y preguntas adicionales que le hayan resultado útiles? ¿Tienes ejemplos de cómo has logrado colaboraciones realmente efectivas entre diferentes formas de conocimiento? ¿Tiene lecciones que compartir sobre las cosas que se debe tener en cuenta?

Para descubrir más:
Moreno-Cely., A., Cuajera-Nahui., D., Escobar-Vasquez., C., Vanwing., T. and Tapia-Ponce., N. (2021). Breaking monologues in collaborative research: Bridging knowledge systems through a listening-based dialogue of wisdom approach. Sustainability Science, 16:  919–931. (Online) (DOI): El siguiente documento también contiene referencias a las ideas presentadas.


Adriana Moreno Cely es investigadora de doctorado en la Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Bélgica. Su interés de investigación incluye enfoques de investigación colaborativos y participativos, descolonización de la producción de conocimiento y construcción de territorios sostenibles mediante la revalorización del conocimiento indígena y local.

Darío Cuajera Nahui es actualmente profesor de bioestadística y agroecología e investigador de doctorado en la Universidad Mayor de San Simón en Bolivia. Sus intereses de investigación son la resiliencia socio ecológica y la planificación territorial.

César Escobar Vásquez es actualmente profesor de Sociología Rural e investigador de doctorado en la Universidad Mayor de San Simón en Bolivia. Sus líneas de investigación son la planificación territorial, la gobernanza y el desarrollo local y sostenible.

Tom Vanwing PhD es subdirector del Departamento de Ciencias de la Educación de la Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) y director del programa de licenciatura y maestría Agogische Wetenschappen, Bélgica. Sus intereses de investigación involucran transiciones y problemas de desarrollo contemporáneos con un alcance en las comunidades a través de un enfoque interseccional.

Nelson Tapia Ponce PhD es especialista en Agroecología y agricultura familiar. Actualmente es profesor y coordinador del programa de posgrado del Centro de Agroecología Universidad Cochabamba (AGRUCO) de la Universidad Mayor de San Simón en Bolivia. Sus áreas de interés son la agroecología y la cultura Andina.

22 thoughts on “Listening-based dialogue: Circle of dialogue wisdom / Diálogo basado en la escucha: Círculos de diálogo entre saberes”

  1. Having read your full article on this subject, I’d like to say thank you for bringing your very rich ideas on strengthening equitable collaborations to this platform. I remain intrigued with the deepness of the circle of dialogue wisdom you have presented, and how you have provided opportunities for self-reflection and the need (and ways) to unpack certain assumptions. Again, the phrase ‘monologues disguised as dialogues’ continues to resonate with me, because, in my experience, project leader(s) tend to stir discussions towards their own agendas. Especially where unequal partnerships are at play, the tendency is for other groups/participants to allow themselves to be herded towards these agendas. So I wonder: at what stages do you conceive that each of the six phases of the circle of dialogue comes into play? I mean, do we measure, for instance that we have gotten to ‘know one another’ sufficiently enough before moving to the next stage of ‘concerting rules for participation’ phase, and so on.

    • Dear Basirat

      Thanks a lot for these provocative questions.

      I will start by saying that it is crucial to understand the Circles of Dialogue of wisdom (CDW) as an iterative and spiral process. They are not steps. It means that you will need to integrate all phases during the whole process. For example, the rules can change. They are not fixed rules. They should be negotiated and renegotiated as much as needed. Building affections is something that also needs to be present all the time and in different ways. The same happens for all the other phases.

      Second, how to measure it?. Here I will say that in the CDW it is vital to combine feelings and senses in the reflexivity process. When you are really connected to the people, you will feel when necessary to build affection or create safe spaces. This is what we are calling listening to the silences. In our experiences, we learned that it is more important to pay attention to silences and inaction. If you notice that the people are not taking the solutions to practices, something is wrong, and you need to explore the root causes. Do not stay in the events (what is happening). We need to try to understand what are the values, assumptions and beliefs that are behind these silences and inertia.

      The issue is that from the western perspective, we always see the processes linearly as the chain production of a product. CDWs cannot be understood in this way. When the researcher or project leader decides that actions and products are more important than creating bonds of trust and friendship, it becomes evident that we are in a monologue disguised in dialogue.

    • Thanks Judi for your comment.I would love to know which aspects of our framework do you think are the ones that enrich the dialogue the most.

  2. I think it lays out some themes well though in my mind, it went off the road with “using anonymity ” in, # 3.

    “being able to manage the unknown―especially situations where participants do not know each other, the language, or the topic under consideration―as well as associated discomfort and anxiety” A friend of mine said, “Kinda goes against the building “trust” aspect and the “listening”? Manage the unknown kinda shows whose show it is.

    • Dear Bill,

      Believe me, it didn’t cross my mind at first either. However, in societies that are highly hierarchical and where the division of social classes is very strong, it is not enough to try to “impose” horizontal relationships. This does not work, and alternatives must be sought. In our case, using anonymity at key moments allowed us to open spaces for dialogue that would not have been possible otherwise. This simple exercise help us building trust and listen to each other.

      By the way, it will be nice, to hear what options do you propose instead of anonymity

      • thanks for clarifying the component.

        I’m going to read the actual paper to understand more in a more nuanced way what you are saying on: “However, in societies that are highly hierarchical and where the division of social classes is very strong, it is not enough to try to “impose” horizontal relationships.”

        My own ethno, dare I say ego -centric view/dynamic/culture: coming from Canada vs. other countries of: class and the dynamic of overt hierarchy needs to be thought out a bit more by me. Maybe someone knows a good article on the topic of high vs. low hierarchal cultures?

        I have to say the division of class and the interaction between the classes in Canada, much less Indigenous Peoples is Rock Solid, despite all the reconciliation and dialogue going on here as analyzed by various people and organizations – here is a link to my attempt to learn about this:

        Hopefully my own confusion on use of anonymity and hierarchy isn’t sending this discussion … off the road!

        • Dear Bill,

          Indeed, reading the blog only without knowing the context could lead to confusion, and I am happy that you raised it. As you described in Canada, the relations between cultures are highly complex. As a pluri-diverse cultural country, Bolivia is also incredibly complex, where power relations and cultural differences, racism, discrimination, patriarchalism, colonialism, etc., hinder all possibilities to have a genuine dialogue. But not the kind of dialogue mentioned in the link. We also realized that this is not dialogue, and because of that, we need to change it. We need a decolonizing process, but as Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang (2012) said, decolonization is not a metaphor. It needs to start with the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. And this process will not be easy. It requires willingness. We cannot forget there is a painful history of settler colonialism present until today. Therefore, bringing up this pain to the table won’t be easy; you need to explore alternative paths aligned with the different worldviews. In our case, anonymity helped us, but maybe you will need something else.

          Regarding your question about hierarchical cultures, something that comes to my mind is cultural intelligence, but I do not have an article, there are some books that discuss this topic. I hope this could help.

  3. This piece covers most of the topics which are in play in my mind and actions. I’d like to toss in a few thoughts perhaps to build on those topics.

    I thought of Bohmian Dialogue as the means to “know one another”. (Addition by editor: Dialogue in the spirit of David Bohm.)

    I thought of World of Warcraft and World Cafés.

    John Seely-Brown famously said:

    “I wold rather hire a high-level World of Warcraft player than an MBA from Harvard.”

    He was speaking, in a 6 minute youtube, to the nature of leadership skills, among other things. My own research, specifically on the the topic of the social aspects of guilds – many papers authored on research performed on World of Warcraft data, and from that, Avatars, suggests that people behind avatars quickly migrate from egocentric to eco-centric behaviors.

    It was in research and participating in World Cafés that I learned about “talking stones” (occasionally: talking sticks), which are required to be in one’s hand before speaking. That encourages deep listening.

    From that, I carry the working hypothesis that one way (among many) to tame wicked conversation is through adaptations of the World of Warcraft technology to structured inquiry and decision planning.

    • Dear Jack
      Thanks for your comments. Indeed our dialogue of wisdom approach has a lot in common with Bohmian dialogue, not only about knowing one another but holding out thoughts, like holding talking stones or sticks before we speak. It is about embracing differences, not judging and learning from each other.
      Unfortunately, I do not have experience with the World of Warcraft technology. I am intrigued about the connection you make between a video-game and structured inquiry and decision planning.

      • Dear Adiana
        (longish, sorry)
        For me, the connections between massive online role playing games and structured deliberations, be they in the area of research or decision planning were a logical outcome of doing research on the topic of taming online structured conversations for a PhD project at Open University. That project was supervised by Simon Buckingham Shum, and my thesis proposal clearly orbits the technical (boundary infrastructure) side. WoW, the game platform itself, is an instance of boundary infrastructure.

        In that research, I used an issue mapping tool, Compendium, to take notes and to organize my thesis, and my research was about dialogue and issue maps of conversations about climate change found online. There are some websites, for instance, which aggregate claims being made about climate change. That’s the connection to structured conversation; I had accumulated experiences with that process. Most structured conversation technology falls into these branches: Pro-Con debate mapping, argument mapping, and dialogue/issue mapping – primarily from the Issue-based information systems of U.C Berkeley, and perfected for group facilitation by Jeff Conklin and others. Compendium is a product which falls into the software lineage created by Dr. Conklin, and was in use at Open University.

        The MMO-side, specifically related to WoW guilds, was discovered during my research when I noticed the tendency for conversations to fall into flame tossing wars. That’s why U.C. Berkeley took on that kind of problem – think: town hall meetings, which become “wicked” the first time someone blurts out “over my dead body you’ll put that freeway through my backyard”. Jeff tells stories of facilitating those kinds of meetings, where he crafts a visible dialogue map from his laptop, in view on a screen; nobody looks at the screen since they are too busy shouting at each other, and, importantly, not listening. He would let the conversation go until he had a good sample of the banter, then ask the participants to study his map and tell him if they think he is capturing their ideas. Frequently, the banter changes to something like “Wow, Sue, I didn’t know that’s what you were worried about” following which the conversation becomes much tamer. Occasionally, they discover that they were trying to answer the wrong question.

        The map serves as a liminal space where egos fall away.

        So the question is this: how can you get ordinary, rambunctious, ego-concentric citizens to participate in an online structured conversation? It seemed to me that there are two approaches: one is patterned after “first person shooter” (FPS) games, and the other as role players inside guilds and behind avatars (RPG).

        I had the great fortune of participating in the first (for me) FPS game online which was an instance of the’s ForesightEngine, and mounted by the Myelin Repair Foundation as funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the game was called “Race for a Cure”. This is a Quest-directed FPS exercise. The first thing I observed was that there were no flame wars; participants in the game were tame, active, and polite. That did not preclude some game moves which were quickly deleted as totally inappropriate. In the end, on reviewing the game data – which I adapted to Compendium and imported, the signal to noise ratio (SNR) was not all that high.

        I was already asking the question (in my thesis research) how can we improve the SNR of quest results?

        That coupled with my online observations about flame wars, and coupled with an observation of increasing partisanship everywhere, i came to believe that there is a need to “change the narrative”.

        Therefore, I see connections between RPGs and sensemaking in the light of taming those processes which lead to the game moves made in quests. What if WoW meets global sensemaking?

        On the surface, I doubt that it’s an entirely obvious concept. But, if you study Theory U, you quickly realize there is a strong tendency in many people, including politicians and decision makers, to try to climb the right side of the U before descending the left side. I see epic quests beginning with those which explore and descend the left side before it’s time to mount epic quests which serve the right side of the U.

        Avatars serve to evolve participants from their typical egocentric ways in the direction of a more eco-centric participation. That’s the first level psychology for leaving FPS genres for something else. The second level acknowledges that, to be fully immersed in some situation, learning new things and skills can be valuable. Add to that the fact that (IMHO) we need to engage youth as early as possible in deliberations about matters that matter. An RPG of the conversational kind is ideal for that. The second level psychology is thus driven by the game mechanics and guild dynamics in play. That’s why John Seely-Brown made that 6 minute video about WoW.

        I hope that helps, or maybe leads to deeper questions…

        • Wow, I would not have imagined that with a video game so many interesting things could be done and less related to dialogue. I have always been very critical of the use of these types of games that also seem very violent but thanks to this interesting explanation I think I have been wrong for a long time.

          I need time to digest all this 🙂

          Thanks for sharing.

          • Thanks for your comments. I, too, dislike violent games; I never played WoW, though the IFTF ForesightEngine and its clone MMOWGLI from the U.S. Navy were truly enjoyable experiences.

            In the mean time, I am contemplating a post for this venue to explain what I am thinking in more detail.

            • Indeed Jack, I think it would be very interesting to share all this knowledge you have about video-games and the many possibilities it offers in collaborative processes. I think you can open other perspectives, in which, like me, I had not even imagined.

  4. Very Enlightening Timely Accurate Article about age old traditional wisdom from diverse racial/ethnic populations groups on this Planet Earth finally captured in this published paper. This should become a road map and blue print for any health and health care systems to conceptualize framework to address any set of social determinants of health and health disparities strategic plan.

    • Dear Anil

      You are right. The health system around the world needs to change, and a listening dialogue could help. I am curious to know how you will apply the circles of dialogue of wisdom in the health system to reopen the possibility of bringing wisdom to our planet.

      • Well, world has become a small place, internet connectivity has made it possible to think globally while learning from local and regional comprehensive needs assessments. We can use NCI designated cancer center example, they have to define their catchment areas where 70 percent of patients could be served in a geographical area. Now within these catchment areas are Federally Qualified Health Centers, Regional Medical Hospitals and other Faith Based and Community Health Centers who rarely talk to one another because of different Health Care delivery systems, Insurance policies, Medicare, Medicaid, CMS guidelines and statutes, billing systems. There is lack of respect, trust and sincerity among all these siloed partners who do not keep the healthy individual at the epicenter, so that healthy lifestyle and preventative measures could be brought to bear to prevent initiation and progression of disease in the first place. Old traditional wisdom, cultural heritages and values system have to be honored and implemented in away that is mutually respectful, dignified and takes seriously the well-being of an individual, society, diversity and social determinants of health into consideration while maintaining environmental and occupational hazards to the minimum so that next generation of humanity have basic necessities in abundance to thrive on this blue diamond in our Milky way Galaxy for years to come!

        • You mention so many different issues in your small paragraph, but I feel your pain and disappointment deeply. I could say that a dialogue of wisdom as the one we propose is just a tiny step. We are sure that if a decolonization process does not accompany this dialogue, our task is incomplete. And as Maldonado-Torres (2016) said, this decolonization is a collective project that must aim to break the coloniality of power, knowledge and being. This collaborative process starts, as you noted, honoring and bridging our traditional wisdom and cultural heritages with other knowledge systems. I hope the circle of dialogue of wisdom can help us in this challenging task that as humanity we have.

    • I believe that my first interest in this topic grew out of a need to improve my own understandings of health and wellness issues. It had occurred to me, after I was diagnosed with a serious nasty some 32 years ago and quickly discovered that, online – such as it was back then – that there was no way for me to share ideas and learn from others. In the end, I did my own research, changed physicians to one who would work with me such that I am here today rather than submitting to his Rx (a bone marrow transplant). I wanted to invent a way to share my ideas with others.

      So I agree: the processes described in this post are spot on, and, I strongly believe, there is a need to find their way to as much of society as can be reached.

      • Thank you for sharing your life story. I believe that in this frantic race to achieve happiness, we have forgotten to be happy. I think, we need to slow down, listen and feel others and ourselves.


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