Just Conversations

 Flat cartoon vector illustration of diverse group of people standing together

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

About the Institute

The Institute for Just Outcomes through Conversation is hosted within the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. The institute supports the Fowler Center's goal of advancing scholarship and practice informed by positive organizational science and appreciative inquiry.


We imagine a future where equity and justice enhances wellbeing and ignites growth for individuals, organizations and communities.


We work to collaborate with others to actualize social justice within public service systems. We do this by designing programs for collaborating with and providing research to organizations and communities committed to just outcomes.


The institute conducts transformative research, defined by the National Science Foundation as involving “ideas, discoveries, or tools that radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or educational practice or leads to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science, engineering, or education.” 

Our purpose is to:

  • Generate evidence-based strategies for hosting conversations that lead to just systems that equitably serve all people.
  • Publish research outcomes in academic journals, popular press, social media and other traditional media platforms.
  • Develop evidence-based strategies and programs that support just outcomes through conversation, especially among marginalized populations.
  • Be a collaborative partner, supporting other organizations working to foster just systems.

Our Values

  • Equity: Constituents of service systems are treated with fairness and justice regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexuality, or other discernible characteristics.
  • Social justice: Awareness of individual rights within the duties of institutions throughout society in a manner that supports a fair distribution of resources and opportunities.
  • Well-being: Conversations within communities and organizations support wellness, quality of life, and the ultimate good for all citizens.
  • Organizational effectiveness: Communities are supported by organizations that are outcomes-focused and inquiry-based. This enhances their ability to be diverse, culturally responsive and professionally competent.

Current Projects

  • Strengthening police-community relations: We're using the principles of appreciative inquiry to aid in the development of community review and advisory boards to increase the connection between police and the citizens they serve through more transparent accountability measures.
  • Ensuring all children thrive in school: We're exploring the ways Conversations Worth Having can shape planning and service delivery for special-needs students as well as the impact such a transformation can have on teachers and administrators in their connections with students, parents, and each other.
  • Supporting positive development during emerging adulthood: We're partnering with Mobile Team Challenge to co-create an experiential curriculum that applies appreciative inquiry to help young people, especially those involved or at risk of contact with the justice system, navigate toward a brighter future.
  • Improving permanency for children in foster care: We're helping caseworkers to employ the AI practices shared within Conversations Worth Having while working with birth and foster families to enhance casework contacts and goal setting in an effort to address disproportionality and disparity in the child welfare system.

Get in Touch

Michael Emmart, EdD
Executive Director

Toni Benner, MSOD
Director of Creativity and Partnership

Cheri Torres, PhD
Chief Pollinator

Jacqueline (Jackie) Stavros, DM
Chief Purpose and Energy Officer