Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations

The Art of Hosting (AoH) is a collection of highly effective techniques to harness collective wisdom and the self-organizing capacity of groups of any size. It brings equity of voice, respect and acknowledgement of group wisdom to planning and decision-making processes. The Women's Place brought these techniques to the university and continues to spread and employ them as part of our mission to change university culture.

Art of Hosting group exercise

Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations blends a suite of powerful conversational processes that invite people to step in and take charge of the challenges facing them in an inherently more democratic way than most conversations. Groups and organizations using AoH as a working practice report better decision-making, more efficient and effective capacity building, and greater ability to quickly respond to opportunity, challenge, and change. People who experience AoH typically say that they walk away feeling more empowered and able to help guide the meetings and conversations they are part of towards more effective and desirable outcomes.

AoH offers a blend of some of the most powerful methods to create open and meaningful conversation that leads to commitment and good results. Working with a range of collaborative methods — like Circle, World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology, ProAction Café, storytelling and more — practitioners can tailor the approach to their context and purpose.

The Art of Hosting network is rapidly spreading and growing all over the world. This network has no formal, legal structure, no appointed leader, no accreditation program and no controlling body. It is based on a practitioner network, with local communities of practice; it is committed to learning and generous with its sharing and support. The Ohio State and Columbus community network includes more than 400 practitioners.

AoH principles and techniques can be applied to the vast majority of team meetings, strategic planning processes, orientations, team building, skills trainings, and a myriad of other uses. The growing community of practitioners at Ohio State is available to assist your group or unit with exploring this method of thinking together and creating innovative solutions. Contact Jennifer Beard for more information.

Art of Hosting table conversation

The Women's Place is invested in the Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations at OSU with the following goals in mind:

  • To create a community of practitioners at OSU to build the capacity of the institution to practice new ways of interacting and accomplishing goals
  • To diminish the core divisions that exist across the university and promote One University
  • To create the conditions to support sustained efforts by students, staff & faculty to call conversations that will move us forward and together
  • To root Ohio State as a part of the growing community of practice in Columbus and become a part of this city's community that learns together.

More information regarding the Art of Hosting Conversations is available at the following links:

Art of HostingArt of Hosting (video)

The World Cafe

A Practice Guide for Authentic Leadership in Strategic Sustainable Development

Participatory Process Design Guide for Strategic Sustainable Development

The Women's Place sponsored an event featuring bell hooks that incorporated an Art of Hosting technique called Open Space. View the result, or harvest, of the Open Space: Open Space Harvest.

The Women's Place also organized an Art of Hosting training on the Ohio State Mansfield campus in July of 2013. Karen Lewis, assistant professor in the Knowlton School of Architecture, created a booklet, "Art of Hosting Training: Implicit Bias," which harvested the outcome of the training. This booklet provides a wonderful overview of some of the processes involved in Art of Hosting.