Circles: An Ancient Practice Of Conversation In A Modern Day Setting How Have Peace Circles Impacted The Group Dynamics Of The Adult Community Of One Public High School In Western Massachusetts?

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


On August 29, 2006, 55 adult participants, six Circle keepers (dialogue facilitators), and five Circle keeper assistants participated in six simultaneous peace Circles (facilitated dialogue). My capstone question is: How have peace Circles impacted the group dynamics of the adult community of one public high school in western MA? This research is in the form of a case study and the data sources included two focus groups, document review and observations. Circles have made a quiet and profound impact on this adult community. The participants were in agreement that they felt a deficiency in respect and communication throughout their population; I do not believe that they were identifying them as intertwined phenomena. The Circles slowed the pace and created a safe space for them to communicate; and I believe they then felt respect- many of them talked about this in terms of being “human.” They did not find concrete answers to their problems and pain. Instead they found a space to hear and express their pain and problems which in turn built abstract connections with each other, assuaging their anguish. Not only did they find value in that, they liked it. The reality of these Circles came in lovely, intricate and unforeseen ways that took me by surprise. This report documents how Circles helped one adult community to begin a slow, intentional process of meeting it’s basic human needs as a community. It could be useful to students of Circles and those interested in bringing Circles to their institution (not only to a school setting); that is, if one’s goal is to bring people together and intentionally have a structured, safe conversation that will focus on the human element.


Cognition and Perception | Community Psychology

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