World Café Discussion Method

Drawing on seven integrated design principles, the World Café methodology is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large-group dialogue.

World Café can be modified to meet a wide variety of needs. Specifics of context, numbers, purpose, location, and other circumstances are factored into each event’s unique invitation, design, and question choice, but the following five components comprise the basic model:

  1. Setting: Create a “special” environment, most often modeled after a café (i.e., small round tables covered with a checkered or white linen tablecloth, butcher block paper, colored pens, a vase of flowers, and optional “talking stick” item). There should be four chairs at each table (optimally)—and no more than five.
  2. Welcome and Introduction: The host begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the World Café process, setting the context, sharing café etiquette, and putting participants at ease.
  3. Small Group Rounds: The process begins with the first of three or more 20-minute rounds of conversation for the small group seated around a table. At the end of the 20 minutes, each member of the group moves to a different new table. They may or may not choose to leave one person as the “table host” for the next round, who welcomes the next group and briefly fills them in on what happened in the previous round.
  4. Questions: Each round is prefaced with a question specially crafted for the specific context and desired purpose of the World Café. The same questions can be used for more than one round, or they can be built on one another to focus or guide the conversation.
  5. Harvest: After the small groups, individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group. These results are reflected visually in a variety of ways, most often using graphic recording in the front of the room.

The basic process is simple, but complexities and nuances of context, numbers, question crafting, and purpose may require consultation of additional resources. World Café provides many such resources for new hosts, including a free hosting tool kit, an online community of practice, and World Café Signature Learning Programs, at http://www.theworldcafe.com.

(Adapted from http://www.theworldcafe.com/key-concepts-resources/world-cafe-method/)

 

Faculty Spotlight View Other Award Winners

Premila Whitney
College of Rosen Premila   Whitney My pedagogical philosophy is the belief that adults learn best when they are able to actively participate in the learning process. I firmly believe everyone can learn more from each other than they can on their own. Because of this I practice active learning and strive to maintain an energetic, interactive, an...

Ilenia Colon Mendoza
College of Arts and Humanities Ilenia  Colon Mendoza As an educator I believe learning should be a pleasant and interactive activity; I see learning as an experience in and of itself. For the teaching process to be successful, it must be student centered. The first step in achieving a student-centered environment is to make students feel comfortable enough to expr...

Ronald F. Demara
College of Engineering and Computer Science Ronald F.  Demara Effective teaching spans much more than conveying facts; it empowers the learner with intellectual inspiration, keen insights, and career-long skills. My enthusiasm for teaching has codified those objectives within my own discipline-specific philosophy via developing, delivering, and refining undergraduate cou...