tools directory

Public Conversations Project Dialogue

Public Conversations Project Dialogue

What situations is this tool used in?

Public Conversations Project Dialogue (PCP Dialogue) is appropriate for exploring deeply divisive topics that are not easily resolved through compromise. Such issues are often rooted in deeply personal aspects of identity, values and worldviews, and often undermine the creation of a cooperative and constructive style of interaction within a community.

Who is this tool aimed at?

PCP Dialogue is a methodology developed by the Public Conversations Project based in Boston, USA. It can be used by any group of people struggling with a divisive issue and often brings together multiple parties with a wide range of views – including civil society, industry, academia, non-governmental organisations and community leaders.

How Is the Tool Used?

PCP Dialogue can be used as a standalone process without a predetermined outcome, or as part of a wider process – for example to engender constructive communication in the early stages of a participatory process, or as part of a capacity building workshop to build dialogue and conflict resolution skills.

Regardless of the context, all PCP Dialogues are focused on the primary goal of shifting relationships or communication rather than necessarily reaching agreement. Following a preparation stage and the development of ground rules, the exercise enables a structured process for speaking, listening and reflecting, with equal opportunity for all to participate, and an opportunity to explore doubts as well as certainties.

Who has used the tool?

The Rural Community Network project documented in the case studies section used the PCP Dialogue method to engage with rural communities in relation to renewable energy developments in their areas.


In the mid-nineties, PCP Dialogue was used to tackle the highly polarised debate occurring in Maine’s forests over plans to protect endangered species. More than 80 stakeholders – including forest landowners (industrial and non-industrial), environmental groups, academics, state and federal government agencies, citizen activists, and sporting groups – came together to develop a more collaborative approach to biodiversity through the Maine Forest Biodiversity Project. The project led to a public outreach programme and three shared publications, as well as the development of a collaborative relationship credited with shaping new legislation, launching the Forest Ecosystem Information Exchange, and inspiring similar dialogue for freshwater ecosystems.

Public Conversations Project summary of Maine forest dialogue

Where to find out more

Overview of PCP Dialogue

Public Conversations Project home page

Film introducing Public Conversations Project

Northern Ireland Case Study - Rethinking NIMBYism