Expand the co-creation kit: develop hosting and facilitation skills

Masters in Design for Social Innovation at SVA, Fundamentals course

The challenge: We know how to run meetings, hold workshops and manage projects. But we don’t know how to activate community creativity and work with emergent change. 

Our reasons for gathering are so many, but our models and methods for what to do together are so few. The ability to host and facilitate healthy, inclusive, deep group dialogue and co-creation is fundamental to the work of social change.  

Each year we take a group of twenty-five grad students through a four-month process that culminates in student-hosted “conversations that matter” in New York City. Through group activities and role play, lectures and readings, field assignments and coaching sessions, each team makes a step toward competence and confidence as hosts of participatory work. Their efforts have resulted in interfaith conversations, dialogue among independent artists, bonding across generations living in the same neighborhood, goal-setting for a startup, and many other gatherings across differences. Students tell us that the mix of theory and practice, the support they receive, and the challenge to do brave work help them internalize a way of working that continues into their lives after graduation.  

Students gain exposure to and practice in dialogue theory, Art of Hosting methods, Liberating Structures, applied improv, Theory U, and participation strategies.

“The facilitation project taught me to believe in my own power to create a rewarding, provoking, and life-affirming evening.”

“I will carry this throughout the rest of my work.”

“The idea of generative dialogue really surprised me. It creates a new mission: how might I learn to bring out the wisdom in others?”

“Our facilitation was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in a class.”