e-Dialogues for Sustainable Community Development

Trans-disciplinary dialogue using Internet communication technology to stimulate conversation concerning sustainable development issues that we currently face.

The e-Dialogues research project attempts to push Internet communication technologies (ICTs) to be forces of light rather than dark. They are designed to stimulate substantive trans-disciplinary dialogue on sustainable development issues between leading academics and diverse audiences, including the public policy community. Our objectives are to:

  • stimulate trans-disciplinary dialogue around critical sustainable development issues;
  • use and evaluate electronic dialogue as a tool to increase literacy, both scientific and social;
  • stimulate conversation and trans-disciplinary dialogue among a diverse panel of experts from around the world;
  • determine if e-Dialogues can inform public policy development, and;
  • determine the efficacy of this medium for building points of consensus for governments.

Ultimately, our vision is to have listeners who would 'tune in' to an e-dialogue to become informed about sustainable development issues, just as you would tune into a radio program, such as CBC's Ideas.

The simple text-based format is used to ensure that access is possible for people with low bandwidth and for people with limited computer experience. Our research shows us that this format is the best way for achieving effective trans-disciplinary dialogue about sustainable development issues. Use of the platform requires little to no training for anyone familiar with other web-based forums or chat systems. The text-based system allows for an almost instant and faithful record of the conversation to be archived and made available for other interested people – something that is not easy or accessible for audio and video systems – and ensures that people’s voices are faithfully recorded. The text-based system also enables responses to questions to be more considered and measured compared to the more instant demands of voice and visual communication. All in all, we believe that this simple text-based system has added value for trans-disciplinary dialogue when compared to more sophisticated technologies.

e-Dialogue word cloud

The e-Dialogue word cloud was developed by distilling the 100 most frequent concepts emerging from the e-Dialogues archives held over the course of the CRC research program. This word cloud is a snapshot of the themes and concepts that have been an integral part of over a decade of discussions on sustainable community development and their innovations.


Proper names and grammatical terms (e.g., prepositions) of both data sets were removed before generating the word clouds to ensure that they represent only substantive content from the data.

An integral part of community development and social innovation is opening space for collaboration, hence this tool is available for you to contribute to and enhance its development through a non-commercial, attributable, share-alike creative commons license. Attribution should be made to Dr. Ann Dale, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, Royal Roads University.