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Police-Community Dialogue

 Robert C. Bordone  
Product number:
16 pages
Product Type:
Web-Based Streaming Video Footage
Link to Faculty Author Page:

Instructions on accessing the video can be found in the "Procedure" section of the Teacher's Manual


In the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Minnesota, and five police officers in Dallas, a group of civilians and police officers sit down for a conversation about policing and race in America. Two experienced facilitators lead the discussion and make choices that impact the direction that the conversation takes.

The Police-Community Dialogue is a real life facilitated dialogue that provides a window into the challenging decisions that facilitators in all contexts must make. It is specifically created to support those who teach facilitation, those who serve as facilitators, and those who are interested in implementing group dialogue and public engagement in their communities or organizations. It can be used in courses on facilitation, multi-party negotiation, consensus building and mediation, and in workshops or training sessions on facilitating dialogue.

This video resource is divided into two parts. The first part is the facilitated conversation as it occurred on July 9, 2016 in its unedited form. The second portion of the video is a conversation that Professor Robert C. Bordone conducted with the two facilitators, Danielle Bart (Associate, Goodwin Procter LLP) and Toby Berkman (Senior Associate, Consensus Building Institute), weeks after the dialogue. In this second part, Professor Bordone interviews Toby and Danielle about the choices they made when preparing for the dialogue and at key moments in the dialogue itself. The purpose of the interview is to get into the minds of these skillful professionals, understand their facilitative choices, and reflect on various ways to handle challenging moments.
There are two ways to use the Police-Community Dialogue videos. First, the videos can be watched in their full-length versions— a two hour dialogue video and a one hour interview video. Second, the videos can be watched in shorter segments that are broken up into chapters. Each chapter includes a segment of the dialogue and segment(s) of the interview that provide insights into a particular topic in facilitation. Each chapter also has an accompanying list of discussion questions in the teaching note. The chapters are as follows:

Chapter 1: Framing the Conversation
Chapter 2: Setting an Agenda
Chapter 3: Shared Norms
Chapter 4: Introductions / Facilitator as Participant?
Chapter 5: Engaging the Group and Handling First Voices
Chapter 6: Framing Questions and Confronting Divergent Responses
Chapter 7: Managing Participation Levels
Chapter 8: Closing the Conversation
Chapter 9: Final Reflections

The Police-Community Dialogue video resource includes a teaching note, which provides instructions on how to access and play the videos, detailed information that contextualizes the dialogue, and an in-depth list of discussion questions corresponding to each chapter of the video.

Learning Objectives

This video resource provides an introduction to the process of facilitation and co-facilitation. Students will learn:
• To define the role of a facilitator when participants may have differing understandings of what a facilitated dialogue is.
• To frame effectively a conversation that has the potential to develop in many different directions.
• To address challenging group dynamics, including power dynamics and varying levels of participation.
• To establish shared norms for discussing emotionally charged topics.
• To set an agenda that serves the group’s needs and fits the purpose of the dialogue session.
• To decide when and how to intervene in key moments of a dialogue.
• To engage participants and help them to explore their differences, tensions, and conflicts as well as their points of agreement.
• To give voice to all participants in the room while protecting their autonomy.
• To bring a group discussion to a close while acknowledging real emotions and differences in the room.

Subjects Covered: Facilitation; Co-facilitation; Political Dialogue; Power Dynamics in a Negotiation; Multi-Party Negotiation; Consensus Building and Mediation


Geographic: United States
Industry: Facilitation, dialogue, police-community relations, criminal justice, race

Accessibility: To obtain accessible versions of our products for use by those with disabilities, please contact the HLS Case Studies Program at hlscasestudies@law.harvard.edu or +1-617-496-1316.

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