Archive for World Cafe Signature Learning Programs

World Cafè Hosting Fundamentals – A Participant’s View

World Café Hosting Fundamentals A learning community

Participating in this course was one of the best possible investments of my time, my energy and my financial resources.  It was an immersion into the theory and practice of hosting that is very supportive for both beginning and experienced practitioners. I loved the intensity and the academic rigour of this offering. Being trained as a researcher, I am always keen to learn more about the background and history of a practice. And there were so many opportunities to learn – with and from the highly experienced teachers Amy Lenzo and Bo Gyllenpalm, and with and from my peers, who came from all over the world. The diversity of participants made it a very rich learning experience for me.

Looking at my own blind spots and receiving such kind support from the group and the teachers when I got stuck in designing a World Café process, I have never been in an online course where this mixture of being challenged and being at ease was so present.

The combination of asynchronous learning on an online learning platform with synchronous online study groups and World Café sessions – for me, this was an ideal learning space.

The generous sharing of knowledge and experience was profound.

I also loved the fact that Hosting Fundamentals alumni were invited to the online World Café. That allowed more connections and even more learning.

Whether you are just starting your journey as a host or whether you have been on this path for a while – this is a course you might want to consider. It’s only held once a year… and it is the only one taking place in cooperation with a Graduate University.

Alex Bretas

I was having a Skype conversation the other day with David Isaacs, co-founder of the World Cafe, and a young World Café host named Alex Bretas Vasconcelos from Sao Pablo, Brazil.  

Alex had called us together to talk about an educational initiative he's just finished crowd-sourcing funds for called "Education Outside the Box" (check out his video – it has English subtitles – and scroll down to hear a video message of support from Juanita Brown, co-founder of the World Café).

During our conversation, Alex started talking about his experience as a participant in one of the first Hosting World Café: The Fundamentals courses we hosted at Fielding. It was exciting to me to hear how strong its impact had been on him. Here's an excerpt from what he said:


After giving permission for me to pull out this piece of our conversation, he asked me if I wanted him to write something about his experience, so of course I said yes. Here's what he wrote:

It was a wonderful time taking the World Cafe Signature Learning Program, since it was both a challenge and an opportunity to me to get in touch with people from all around the world and practice my English. Beyond that, I was deeply curious to take a better look at the World Cafe, and at that time I was beginning my personal journey of discovery when it comes to host conversations that matter.

It was also an opportunity for me to read Juanita Brown's dissertation, a masterpiece which is always coming back at me in diverse forms. Now, I have a deeper knowledge about hosting practices both in a theoretical-reflexive level and in a experiential level, and the Signature Learning Program was co-responsible for that.


The World Cafe Hosting: The Fundamentals course we host in collaboration with the Institute of Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University is offered in a peer-learning format.

…What the heck does that mean?!” you may ask.

Well … let’s start with what peer learning ISN’T, at least in this case.
Peer learning isn’t being left to your own devices without guidance or attention. My co-presenter Bo Gyllenpalm and I will be paying close attention to your learning process, and we’ll be there to respond to your questions and offer help at crucial times.

Peer learning isn’t about an unstructured environment. This course has been carefully designed as an immersion into the World Cafe method, and the principles that give the method its form. Deepening your understanding of these principles will give you the solid ground you need to design, host, and harvest World Café events in any sector, and help you evolve your hosting practice, no matter what your current level of experience is.

Peer learning doesn’t use the standard one-to-many model of education, although you will have access to all the written and multi-media resources you need, as well as engagement with some of the most experienced and innovative World Cafe hosts in the world.

There will be weekly assignments and expectations, but within that structure you are the one that determines the pace, and ultimately the depth, of your learning.

But peer learning isn’t just student-led learning; it’s an interactive, participatory process that relies on real engagement. You have a lot of responsibility in this course – for your own learning, yes, but even more importantly, for the level of your engagement with others. In this course, your peers are your most powerful allies; the depth of your engagement with them will determine the depth of both their learning and yours.

Make no mistake – this course will ask a lot of you. It’s not something you can skate through and watch a video later to catch up on. It is a robust, professional-level learning experience at a premier graduate learning university. You will come out of it with academic and professional credit, and a foundation for your World Café hosting practice that you simply could not get otherwise, even after years of practice on your own. Why? Well one reason is because you have a circle of quality peers to learn with and from.

There are research studies and significant statistics to back this up, but on one level peer learning is just common sense. If you think about, it’s the way we as human beings have always learned – from and with each other. And it’s one of the World Café’s basic premises that together we know more than any one of us alone could possibly know.

The fact that we all learn and grow through the networks of meaningful conversation that make up our lives and work is the foundation of Conversational Leadership. And it’s key to many of the principles that inform not only World Cafe hosting practice, but all participatory engagement. In other words, it’s a great muscle to build and keep well-exercised.

Peer-learning is not just a one-way street, either. Bo and I both learn a LOT from participants every time we offer this course – about the course and what will make it better, but also about our own hosting practice and what makes us better, more effective World Café hosts.

So come join us – we look forward to learning with you!

Peer Learning