DiaPraxis:

Awakening the Spirit of Creative Collaboration

Wisdom Councils / Civic Councils in Europe

Below are English-language materials on the Civic Councils (also known as Wisdom Councils) that have been taking place in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. In this format, a small microcosm of the larger system comes together for a few days, and is hosted using Dynamic Facilitation, a process that helps people become curious about differences. The group explores a complex situation in a creative manner, and then shares their outcomes in a larger public gathering, where the larger group engages in conversation using the World Café methodology.

Most of the resources below document the use of Civic Councils in the area of participatory democracy, for hosting participatory public policy making processes. One exception is a book chapter describing the use of this Council format within business organizations.


Video and report on the Civic Council on Refugees:

1) 5-minute video on the recent award-winning Civic Council on the Refugee Crisis, hosted by the State of Vorarlberg through their Office of Future-Related Issues;

2) 22-page report documenting this award-winning participatory process (English-language translation of the original report.)

Video on the Civic Councils being used in Germany:

as part of the Integrated Environmental Program 2030, sponsored by Germany's Ministry of the Environment


Articles on previous Civic Councils/Wisdom Councils using this same format:

1) journal article by Hans Asenbaum, published in the Journal of Public Deliberation, Vol 12, Issue 2, October 13, 2016. "Facilitating Inclusion: Austrian Wisdom Councils as Democratic Innovation between Consensus and Diversity".

2) blog post by Andy Paice, from his Random Musings blog, December 21, 2013. "Big Strides in Participation for a Tiny Austrian State".

3) magazine article by Silke Ruprechtsberger, published in Fokus, on May 8, 2013. English translation by Craig Eldon Reishus: Hope Blossoms Amidst the Nazi Ruins. Describes the Wisdom Council at Mauthousen, site of a former concentration camp.

4) overview article by Wolfgang Smejkal, published in Biorama, an online magazine on sustainable living, on April 4, 2013. Originally titled, "Selbst Wirksam Werden", Developing Self Efficacy

5) journal article by Andrea Gewessler, published in e-O&P, the Journal for the Association for Management Education and Development, Vol 19, number 2, summer 2012: The Wisdom of Dynamic Facilitation.


Book chapters:

1) "Wisdom Councils in the Public Sector" by Manfred Hellrigl and Michael Lederer. From Rosa Zubizarreta and Matthias zur Bonsen's book, Dynamic Facilitation: Die erfolgreiche Moderations methode für schwierige und verfahrene Situationen. (2014). Weinheim and Basel: Beltz Verlag. (English translation of chapter by Rosa Zubizarreta.)

2) "Dynamic Facilitation -- A Method for Cultural Change". by Rita Trattnigg and Thomas Haderlapp. From Rosa Zubizarreta and Matthias zur Bonsen's book, Dynamic Facilitation: Die erfolgreiche Moderations methode für schwierige und verfahrene Situationen. (2014). Weinheim and Basel: Beltz Verlag. (English translation of chapter by Rosa Zubizarreta.) Tiny url: http://tinyurl.com/DF4CultureChange

3) "Wisdom Councils" by Matthias zur Bonsen. A chapter on Wisdom Councils as used in business organizations. From Rosa Zubizarreta and Matthias zur Bonsen's book, Dynamic Facilitation: Die erfolgreiche Moderations methode für schwierige und verfahrene Situationen. (2014). Weinheim and Basel: Beltz Verlag. (English translation of chapter by Rosa Zubizarreta.)


Evaluation Study from 2012:

"Wisdom Councils in Austria: Joint Research Project of the Ministry of Life and the Office for Future-Related Questions." Final Report on the Accompanying Evaluation." Kairos and the European Institute for Public Participation. (2012). Conducted by Martin Strele, Martin Lüdeman, and Patrizia Nanz. (The original German-language report is available on this page from the State of Vorarlberg's official website. )

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