Circle Processes

Kay Pranis

The Peacemaking Circle is a dialog process combining ancient wisdom about living in community with modern understandings about complex multicultural societies. The process is used for holding difficult conversations and for strengthening relationships within a group. This course will provide experience in the Peacemaking Circle process as well as an understanding of the foundational values and key structural elements of the process. Participants will learn to design and conduct Peacemaking Circles.

Respectful dialogue across significant differences in life experience and perspective is one of the most pressing needs of our time. The Peacemaking Circle process offers a highly accessible and flexible approach for discussion of the most fraught topics. In this time of highly polarized public conversations, people are coming together in Circles to talk about the most difficult issues – police/community relations, childhood sexual abuse, racial inequities, crime and violence, historical trauma, European unity – in a way that maintains respect and nurtures understanding of one another.

Beyond helping people recognize and honor differences, the Peacemaking Circle process allows people to recognize common ground and shared values. Circles build strong, healthy relationships in a group of people – giving everyone a voice, honoring the importance of each member of a community, and creating a sense of belonging for everyone.

This course will explore the values and philosophy that provide the foundation of the Peacemaking Circle process, acknowledging its indigenous origins. It will also analyze the structure of the Peacemaking Circle process and describe a variety of types of Circles. The course will provide examples of the use of the process in schools, families, social services, faith communities, workplaces, neighborhoods, and the justice system. Participants will learn to design and conduct Peacemaking Circles for community building, conflict resolution and increasing commitment to the common good. Both philosophy and practice will be addressed. The course will be conducted in the Peacemaking Circle format and will be highly interactive, using the life experiences of all the participants as a teaching resource. Special attention will be given to the role of the facilitator and the key skills of Circle facilitation.

This course is being offered for training and for academic credit. The syllabus details the number of credits hours and associated course requirements.