Why do we want dialogues?

Our organisation is at the cutting edge when it comes to addressing substantial, modern-day social themes: the growing world population and growing wealth which is resulting in a growing demand for food; climate change and its subsequent impact; urbanisation; and an increased burden on the soil, water, and air, which, in turn, makes food safety uncertain. All of these topics pose significant challenges to the world and elicit a wide range of opinions.

Dialogue at WUR

In order to fulfil our role as a knowledge institution, it is essential that students and researchers allow themselves to be enriched by the different viewpoints in society in order to understand problems and backgrounds and arrive at new insights. Dialogue has proved to be an effective approach for building confidence and fostering understanding between people with different opinions, interests and values. Dialogue has also proven to be valuable to enrich our research programmes by identifying gaps in understanding and addressing newly proposed directions for research.

For years, WUR has conducted research into the course of discussions between stakeholders on complex and controversial issues in the life sciences field. We search for patterns that explain why these conversations so often lead to nothing and why the relationship between opponents deteriorates rather than improves. WUR encourages its researchers to engage with stakeholders and society in innovative ways.

Wageningen Dialogues programme

Whether it is food production or the refugee crisis, when an issue becomes really complicated, people quickly call for dialogue. But dialogues are complicated. A dialogue can’t be won like a debate. Rather, it is based on the idea that all participants contribute to the answer and in turn, come to a solution or common understanding together.

Wageningen Dialogues is the umbrella under which we encourage the dialogue between researchers and with our stakeholders and society. Dialogues and dialogue processes as well as improving our skills enable us to have a good conversation with those who think differently. To do that well, we support our students and researchers. Within our domain of healthy food and living, Wageningen Dialogues are conducted in various forms and in different places, including both online and physical locations. We cordially invite you to participate! Take a look at the calendar.

The importance of dialogue

At WUR we operate at the intersection of major social themes. As a knowledge organisation it is our task to offer space to all the different perspectives. By listening to each other and getting to know each other's backgrounds, we get a better understanding of each other's point of view. In this way we arrive at new insights together for a positive impact on, with and for the world.

“People apply all kinds of strategies to convince others of their own correctness. These strategies, often unintentionally, have a polarising effect. ... In principle, conversations are an important mechanism for initiating change and innovation, because they enable people to gain a different view of the world. That's why it's very important to encourage meetings between people with different ideas.”- inaugural lecture by prof. Noelle Aarts (2015) former professor of Strategic Communication. Get started to discover what dialogue can mean for you.