Open Space

In addition to scheduled panels and roundtables, there will be time allotted for Open Space dialogue during the conference. Open Space Technology (OST) is a process that emphasizes participant empowerment, flexibility of movement, and freedom of voice. It is a democratic procedure that encourages deliberation, rather than adversarial argument. Participants are given the space they need to have constructive dialogues without concern for status, position, or presentation of polished argument. Dialogue allows for the development of interpersonal synergy and a self-sustaining participatory environment. The OST process is guided by four principles:

  1. Whoever comes are the right people. With budget constraints and travel restrictions, numerous scholars may be absent from the conference. Those who are able to attend are encouraged to have no regrets that certain people were missing or had to leave early. The people who are in the room are the right people to have the conversations that need to happen.
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could. Given the time, the place, and the people present, whatever conversations occur and to what end, is the only thing possible. This is a liberating principle that relieves expectations for accomplishing something specific, though something material may emerge.
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time. Though an agenda with a start time will be prepared, and generally adhered to, there is no consequence if participants choose to start conversations at a different time. Perhaps participants want to take more time for breakfast or a morning walk prior to starting. That is fine.
  4. Whenever it’s over, it’s over. Every dialogue that is opened comes to a natural close, some within a short period of time (an hour or less) and some after several hours or more. Some conversations may not end at the conference.
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