World Cafe

The World Café is a flexible and creative activity best done in transdisciplinary small groups which leads to an intensive and open dialogue between the participants. Problems and questions are discussed, views based on different structural backgrounds and logic understood, and proposals for solutions developed.

Best used for

Finding local social impact challenges to solve

Time to introduce this activity in lecture / Time to run this activity

30 min / 1 – 2 h

In the context of Digital Social Impact courses and learning activities

Potential tool for lecturers to figure out possible areas to tackle with students

Main Target Group

Lectures, Students and Local Communities

Potential tools for digitising this activity

Breakout rooms in Teams, Zoom, with a Miro/Mural board, Gather town

Step by Step

1 First, create a pleasant atmosphere for the participants (e.g. with coffee and cookies) and cover each table (ideally a round one) with a tablecloth that can be written on (prepare this beforehand out of paper tablecloths or wallpaper remnants).

2 Assign participants to small groups (3-5 people) to sit together at a table. Each table can discuss a different theme, e.g. health, education, mobility.

3 In the small groups, the participants discuss the corresponding topic along a predefined question (+/- 20 minutes). The main points of the discussion should be recorded directly in writing or graphically on the tablecloth. There are several rounds of discussion, usually according to the number of different questions, e.g.: What are the problems? What ideas are in the room? Which stakeholders are involved?

4 After each round, participants move to any other table. A previously selected participant remains at the table as “host” to briefly summarize the previous discussions to the new participants.

5 In the second round of discussion, the recorded points of the previous discussion should be used to link them to the new round of discussion. There is also the possibility to collect completely new ideas. This process is repeated until each participant has visited all tables or the last question for discussion has been asked.

6 After the last round, the results and findings are presented to all participants by the hosts of the tables, who are the only ones who have followed all the discussions on the respective topic.