Keynote Speaker: Dr. Cathleen Bochmann


Senior project manager of “Krisen-Dialog-Zukunft” (“crisis-dialogue-future”),
Department of Political Science | TU Dresden, Germany


Title of keynote: Using dialogue in building social cohesion in times of crisis

Date: 1st of June 2019

Abstract: How do we manage to still talk with one another in times of antagonism, hate, anger, and polarization? 

This presentation draws from lessons learned during the 2015/16 “refugee crisis” in Germany, where rising right-wing populist movements of “angry citizens” clashed with a liberal and enthusiastic “welcoming culture”. Caught in the middle were countless local administrators and mayors, both in small villages and urban communities. At the grass-roots level they are now tasked with fixing our society. So how do we deal with such conflict in a constructive way?

In my talk I discuss how dialogue formats work in different stages of a crisis and why traditional participation methods for citizens often fail. Furthermore, I will give insights into best-practice models for moderating those dialogues and what guidelines we should give to local communities on how to use dialogue in connecting citizens.


Cathleen studied political science, communication science and philosophy in Germany, the USA and Pakistan. In 2009 she started working at the political science department at TU Dresden, Germany.

Besides having the joy of teaching the next generation of students, she has been involved in several projects that study the resources for the construction of political order in a changing world. She earned her PhD in comparative politics on the topic of political stability.

Later she became the senior project manager of “Krisen-Dialog-Zukunft” (transl. “crisis-dialogue-future”) an interdisciplinary research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which incorporates academic and practice partners.

Starting with the experience of “angry-citizen” protests in 2015 this project aims to develop innovative methods of political dialogue to transform conflicts into future solutions.