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Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.
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Resource facts

  • 11 to 30 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • Internet connection necessary
  • English

Resource Description

World Café(Resource ID: 53)

World Café is a teaching method which provides a creative and open forum on a topic relevant to the learners/participants in order to determine their collective knowledge. It allows the participants to share insights and ideas in order to gain a deeper understanding of the topic/issues involved. It is a highly interactive method of teaching and centered on conversation. The teaching environment is set up as a café which allows for a less formal method of teaching

World Café is an interactive group session that is centered on conversation. It allows the participants to engage in a creative process whereby they can share knowledge in a somewhat informal fun setting. The learning environment is set up like a café (hence the name) where the participants sit in tables of approximately four people and they hold a series of ‘rounds of conversation’ related to a topic/issue relevant to their course (details of the set-up are outlined below). This method can be modified to meet a variety of needs making it an ideal teaching method. When preparing for a World Café the instructor must be cognisant of the importance of framing questions that get the participants engaging from the outset. It can be a series of questions or maybe even just one. It is important to encourage participants in to engage in a meaningful way and to also follow the key guidelines set out by the instructor.

Café set up adapted from:

(http://www.theworldcafe.com/method.html)

 

•  Seat a small group (4-5 max) around a table

•  Set up rounds of conversation (these can vary from 5-20 minutes depending on the time available). There should be a minimum of three rounds and each round must be equal in length

•  Questions related to a topic or issue are engaged while other small groups explore similar questions at nearby tables

•   All participants must be encouraged to write and draw key ideas on their chart [;aced in the centre of the table

•   After the first round of conversation, ask one person to remain at the table as the ‘host’. Everybody else rotates to an alternative table.

•   The table host welcomed the new guests and briefly shares the main ideas, themes and questions from the previous group. The host should encourage guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations

•    In the final round of conversation, people can return to their home (original) tables to synthesise their discoveries.

•   A whole group discussion should follow this in which the information should be collated

 

Why does World Café work?

This inquiry based process allows people to listen to each other and to share their ideas and when the participants move to a new table they become ‘ambassadors’ of their previous shared conversation which allows them to then build on from this. The process maximises the generation of new ideas allows the participants to have a productive experience by thinking as a group and interacting with one another. This process can allow for stakeholder involvement in a highly engaging yet informal setting.

Type of teaching method
  • Brain storming
  • Discussion / debate
  • Creative method
Preparation
Low
Preparation Efforts Description
The key component (in terms of logistics) of World Café is to have a room that can facilitate a café type set-up. After this the process is relatively easy and straight forward whereby the facilitator will just need flip chart size paper and markers.
Related Teaching Resources
In terms of setting up a World Café no previous knowledge is needed. However the question(s) posed are critical to the success of this learning method. The questions must be focussed and open-ended. Questions should be centred on inquiry allowing for the development of new ideas.
Necessary documents / materials

NA

Integration of stakeholders
If possible it would be an advantage to have a societal stakeholder engage in the entire process of World Café. Alternatively the participants could relate the ‘results’ of the café to stakeholders as a form of dissemination increase interaction with such actors.
Situations appropriate for this method
As this method is in an informal, comfortable and inviting setting it can allow for public engagement in sustainability issues. For example, once the participants engage in an initial introductory World Café session they can take this method and bring it to a public forum by hosting it in venues that will entice public involvement while not appearing to be too academic in its setting
Strengths of the method
Strengths:
• World Café can be used for large groups as well as diverse groups
• Allows for stakeholders to take part in the process directly
• As this is a collaborative setting the content is transparent
• This method can be applied in a variety of settings.

• Gather meaningful qualitative information about the topic/issue at hand in order to inform strategic direction and sustainable decision-making
• Increase engagement and support from participants through an inquiry led process
• To create a positive collaborative learning experience in order to demonstrate what can be achieved by coming together in a group
Weaknesses of the method
Weaknesses:
• World Café sessions can be subject to interpretation
• Advance planning is needed in order to develop appropriate key questions
• If there are a large number of participants a room of appropriate size will be needed.
Assessment / evaluation
As this is an informal learning process it is not advisable to use direct assessment. However, the information gathered can be used to analyse the level of engagement and success of the method.
Funded by
This teaching resource, realised within the project ConSus, has been funded with the support of the TEMPUS of the European Union. The contents reflect the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Contact

Audrey O’Grady
samantha.prior(at)ul.ie
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
UL - University of Limerick
Institution:
University of Limerick
Date:

License

Creative Commons
BY-NC-ND

Type of teaching method

  • Brain storming
  • Discussion / debate