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Thesis Intensives: Facilitation 101

As an expert in community design and leadership, Thesis Advisor Sloan Leo added an invaluable workshop to our thesis intensive series: Facilitation 101.

A core practice of social design, this session reframed common expectations of facilitation by highlighting practices to avoid and asking students to recenter the core values and purpose of facilitation in a community context. As a thesis requirement, our students work with groups and organizations outside of DSI. When collaborating, it’s important for students to identify and set aside their pre-established expectations and grant space for divergent thinking in order to guide discussions more naturally and effectively toward a goal point (convergent thinking). 

Alongside highlighting the purpose, methods, and values that facilitators should aim to demonstrate, Sloan also articulated ways to accomplish facilitation as embodied practice. This concept centers around being a thoughtful host and anticipating the needs of participants by practicing different methods of communication. Some examples of this include effective paraphrasing, making space for quieter guests, validating differing perspectives, acknowledging feelings, linking points, and more. 

At DSI, students hone their facilitation skills both in classes and outside of our space, and we’re thankful to Sloan for the thoughtful exploration of the skillset. 

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