Westmont Center for Dialogue & Deliberation About Us

"A talent for speaking differently, rather than arguing well, is the chief instrument of social change."

- Richard Rorty, 1989

Our History

What began as a research fellowship with the Kettering Foundation in 2017 has blossomed into a network of community partners and student facilitators led by Westmont professors Deborah Dunn and Rachel Winslow with a single purpose: to help students and the Santa Barbara community face challenging issues in healthy conversation. Since its founding in 2018, the Westmont Center for Dialogue & Deliberation has trained student facilitators, developed issue guides for deliberation, and hosted community conversations on a variety of topics. We believe that careful listening is the foundation for understanding our differences and reaching lasting change in our communities. We seek to organize conversations that transcend partisan lines, because we believe that decisions can be made through shared understanding. 

Our Mission

We are a Westmont College initiative that equips our students and neighbors to speak and listen well together about challenges facing the Santa Barbara community for the common good.

Our Vision

The Westmont Center for Dialogue & Deliberation will:

  • Equip students to effectively facilitate community dialogues that invite greater understanding. 
  • Promote the Common Good, especially in the Civic Square, via Dialogue and Public Discussion
  • Support Citizens Seeking to Participate in Our Democracy
  • Facilitate Discussion to Tackle “Wicked Problems”
  • Engage Community Partners in Framing Issues Well
  • Cultivate Human Community Through Healthy Conversation and Careful Listening