International Institute for Sustained Dialogue
About Sustained Dialogue®
The International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (IISD), headquartered in Washington, DC was founded in 2002 to promote the process of Sustained Dialogue® (SD) for transforming racial, ethnic, and other deep-rooted conflicts in the U.S. and abroad. IISD builds capacity toward more inclusive and engaged diverse campuses, organizations, and communities. This approach towards transforming relationship and improving communities focuses on the individual, organizational, and systemic levels. In the past years, IISD has worked with over 12 countries, four communities, 10 workplaces and 25 campuses.
SDCN trains and coaches millennial leaders to use the powerful five-stage process of Sustained Dialogue (SD) to create inclusive communities. On campus, SD chapters organize diverse individuals into small groups that meet regularly to (1) build relationships and (2) create concrete community action. SDCN provides training and high-touch mentoring as campuses initiate and run chapters, moderate Sustained Dialogues, and serve as resources for increasing civil discourse and action. Currently there are 24 campus partners.
Employers rank the ability to “solve problems and make decisions, resolve conflict and negotiate, cooperate with others, and listen actively” as skills most desired and most deficient in entry-level workers. These outcomes from Sustained Dialogue prepare leaders to work across lines of difference to address pressing needs. IISD provides workshops, trainings, and consultations for nonprofits and corporations. IISD tailors the approach to fit the organization’s needs, goals, and performance towards the organization’s mission.
Sustained Dialogue is a process codified by Dr. Harold “Hal” Saunders, an American diplomat who was instrumental in a number of peace processes in the Middle East since the 1970s. During his involvement in negotiations, he observed that participants’ relationships seemed to evolve through a recognizable pattern. Sustained Dialogue is a powerful dialogue-to-action process that is designed to (1) transform relationships and (2) create informed community change. In the early 1990s, Hal distilled over thirty years of experience and observations into two key concepts that serve as the foundations of SD:
1.  A concept of relationship that can be used to analyze relationships and guide efforts for improving them
2.  A five-stage process for leading participants from trust-building dialogue to community-changing action
Some things only governments can do – provide security, make and enforce law, and fund major programs. But only citizens can transform conflictual human relationships, modify human behavior and change political culture. SD has been used in the former Soviet Union, Tajikistan, in the longest continuous meetings between Russian and U.S. citizens, and in other communities around the world.
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