The World Café was born out of local conversations held with diverse groups from around the world; the ideas behind it tested and adapted until Juanita Brown collated the work during her doctoral studies at Fielding Graduate University, which culminated in her seminal dissertation published in 2001, The World Café: Living Knowledge through Conversations that Matter (available through the World Café Store).
The long-standing collaborative relationship between The World Café and the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding continues to provide a focus for World Cafe research – on both the World Café as a practice to be researched, and a useful format to research other subjects – and the vigorous spread of World Café practice and scholarship through Certificate courses through ISI and classes within Fielding’s OD Masters program.
Royal Roads University in Canada is another strong research partner with over 45 published theses using World Café as a research method.
We are partnering with Royal Roads and Fielding Graduate University on a book project with the working title World Café as Research. In addition to Niels Agger-Gupta at Royal Roads (see more on Niels’ work below), this collaboration includes Fielding doctoral student Rosa Zubizarreta, Fielding faculty members Dr. Fred Steier, Bo Gyllenpalm and Amy Lenzo, and Dr. Jean-Pierre Isbouts at Fielding Graduate University Press, who is publishing the work. Our projected publication date is April-2018.
Today there is a growing and thriving World Café research community around the world and we are encouraged to see new researchers emerging to build on the outstanding foundation created by these relationships.
If you know of any published information on the World Café, including professional or academic journal articles, white papers, grey papers, etc., please send us details (author, title, and where we can find it) so we can include it in our database to support other researchers.
If you are conducting research yourself, please use this form to tell us about it
Would you like to be part of a research community at the World Café? Let us know.
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Here are some short notes on current and past research efforts that explore World Café as part of their focus in some way:
Niels Agger-Gupta, a faculty member at Royal Roads supports world café as an inquiry method for students engaged in action research. His interest and enthusiasm in both supervising students and facilitating world cafés has led him to an appreciative approach to solidifying world café as a legitimate inquiry approach in an action research context. Such inquiry both includes, and in some areas, goes beyond traditional qualitative research constraints. His work is ongoing.
Martin Boerjan, a researcher from the Netherlands has written his masters thesis on whether both the length and frequency (sequential World Café’s) have an effect upon the effectiveness of the intervention.
Molly Barr Cooney and Beth Swedeen, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Waisman Center are working on research about the efficacy of using the World Café model as a community organizing strategy around inclusion issues.
Maro Camargo, a new researcher in Brazil is just starting his doctorate and will be focusing his research on The World Café as a tool to help communities involved in metropolitan conflicts to learn how to move forward together.
Bo Gyllenpalm and Amy Lenzo, Adjunct Faculty members at Fielding Graduate University have been hosting World Café and Appreciative Inquiry courses at the Certificate and Masters levels online at Fielding. This work is ongoing.
John Inman. For many years, John Inman was the point person for inquiries about World Cafe and research. He has made many contributions in this area, including writing a number of articles listed in the Published Research page.
Fred Steier, Faculty at Fielding Graduate University and Lecturer at the University of Florida is using The World Café to deliver educational interventions for Science Museums in the United States. This work is ongoing.
Flavio Mesquita De Silva, a new researcher from Brazil began his doctorate at Fielding Graduate University in 2011 and will be researching the results of using the World Café to bring together 3 concepts: culture of dialogue, culture of design, and culture of peace in a multi-generational context.