Module 1: Introduction

This course is built around core capacities that will be essential throughout our eight weeks together, forming a foundation for the specific content and learning objectives of each module. Together, these capacities are key to effective and strategic engagement and dialogue with teams, communities, internal and external partners, collaborators and more. In each module, you will be asked to:

  • Take a whole systems/holistic view of a situation;
  • Emphasize relationship and deep listening as a foundation for the work;
  • Engage in ongoing self-reflective practice;
  • Recognize and consciously work with dynamics of power, privilege, justice, equity;
  • Actively engage with questions of what climate adaptation means in the context of reconciliation and decolonization; and
  • Learn through continuous cycles of seeing, understanding, and acting.

While each of the readings in this module touch on some or several aspects of these capacities, The Heart of Community Engagement: Practitioner Stories from Across the Globe (Sanderock, 2020), as well as The Dawn of System Leadership (Senge et al., 2015), provide insight into these individual capacities. The readings also delve into the ways they work together to form a way of being in the practice of engagement and dialogue that is necessary to approach the work of climate adaptation as more than a technical problem (Cunsolo & Ellis, 2018).

The graphic below illustrates the mutually reinforcing nature of these ways of working and being. Together, they reflect a “nested systems approach” (Sandercock, 2020), as described by planner and facilitator Jessie Hemphill. With a nested systems lens, the degree to which practitioners are able to be skilful in any one of these areas impacts their ability to do so in the others. As Senge, Hamilton and Kania write, “we are part of the systems we seek to change” (Senge et al., 2015). For example, if we are actively reflecting on our own worldview and assumptions, we are better able to see outside of them and engage with curiosity and deep listening (key for effective dialogue practices), which in turn support stronger relationships, more effective and lasting partnerships, better engagement, and more relevant, successful, equitable and sustainable processes and outcomes.


The readings for this week outline a range of perspectives on these concepts. In subsequent modules, we will take a more focused approach, and dig into specific dimensions and applications.


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Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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