Copyright Janette Hartz-Karp - 16 March 2011
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About Us
21st Century Dialogue is a boutique business, specialising in community engagement that maximises opportunities for inclusiveness and deliberation through small group interaction and high technology. Initiatives are well structured and highly supported with experienced, quality personnel.


The 21st Century Dialogue community engagement methodology is unique in Australia.


The 21st Century Dialogue methodology combines the elements of:

  • Consensus Forums – which ensure that participation is representative of the population, there is informed deliberation and in-depth dialogue, and the initiative has the capacity to influence policy development and decision-making.
  • 21st Century Town Meetings – with custom developed computer software that is unique, reliable and flexible, training of support personnel that is targeted and effective, and agendas that deliver the outcomes set at the commencement of the engagement.
  • Community Surveys - that are statistically rigorous, creatively discern people’s attitudes and values, and reported in a user-friendly style.
  • Event management - that is customer focussed, efficient and flexible.

The 21st Century Dialogue methodology creates public deliberation that is:

  • inclusive (representative of the population and inclusive of groups who are often not heard);
  • deliberative (opportunities for informed discussion, small group dialogue - speaking and listening to all views -, to find alternatives and seek common ground); and
  • influential (has the capacity to influence policy development or decision making)
(For further information, see Carson L and Hartz-Karp J (forthcoming)

21st Century Dialogue Methodology

The 21st Century Dialogue methodology has been adapted from 21st Century Town Meetings -large-scale public participation processes, originally developed in the USA by AmericaSpeaks and applied across the USA, including with nearly 5,000 residents after September 11 to plan for the future of the Ground Zero site in New York; and more recently at the World Economic Forum Meeting at Davos in Switzerland with 700 of the world’s political, economic and social leaders.

This engagement process uses small group, facilitated deliberation together with networked computer technology, to enable the room’s key themes to be broadcast to the entire room virtually in ‘real time’. At each table, ideas are submitted to the computer including individual, team and strongly held minority views. Table inputs are relayed to a theme team who synthesise the results and display them to the room on large screens. Key issues are prioritised, with each participant nominating their individual preferences. Preferential rakings in the form of a histogram are projected back into the room in ‘real time’. At the conclusion of the forum, each participant is given a Preliminary Report of the outcomes of the forum.

The consultants from 21st Century Dialogue have developed their own technology – software and networked computers – as well as the interactive group dynamics system to suit Australian requirements. They have carried out this format for Dialogue with the City (1,100 participants), Dialogue with the Pilbara: Newman 2020 (120 participants); Port Hedland Enquiry by Design (140 participants), Dialogue with Bunbury (300 participants) and Cockburn Vision Dialogue (200 participants). Dr Janette Hartz-Karp will continue with the role of designing, coordinating and lead facilitating. Les Buchanan, will continue in the role of controlling the event management. David Bruce, will continue with the design and analysis of the survey methodologies. The 21st Century Dialogue computer technology has been tried and tested on many occasions, and the computing consultant, Leor Karp will continue to provide the computing support.