University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Over the past decade there have been a number of initiatives around the country to promote t he concept of dialogue. These groups use a format that encourages listening, understanding, and deliberation. The goal of the dialogue process is not consensus, decision-making or action-a lthough some groups do move to some form of action a s a result of the sessions. The goal of these processes is deeper understanding of the complex issues that divide us. The Public Conversations Project, Study Circles, National Issues Forums, and other initiatives have used this process on highly contested issues from abortion, violence, and racial and ethnic tensions, to specific local conflicts. The goal of these processes is generally focused on the misunderstandings between groups. They are seen as techniques to prevent conflict and reduce prejudice, rather than the resolution of specific disputes. This chapter will focus on the concept in reference to the conflicts that are arising out of the c laims for Hawaiian sovereignty in the State of Hawaii.
In 1997 a small group of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians decided to experiment with the Study Circles model to promote dialogue on the issue of Hawaiian