Tenemos que Hablar de Chile

January 12, 2022 valentina

Tenemos que Hablar de Chile is a citizen participation platform led by the largest universities of the country, that aspires to promote civic conversations as a habit that values ​​our differences and help us to collectively build a vision for the future of Chile.


The goals of Tenemos que Hablar de Chile (Spanish for We Need to Talk About Chile) are:

  • Develop a massive conversation about challenges that the country and its citizens are facing.
  • Promote civic conversations as a habit that values ​​our differences and allows us to connect to each other around them.
  • Systematize, represent and respond rigorously to the vision of the future of Chilean society.

Origins and Development

Chile faced one of its major social and political crises during October 2019, in response to a rise in the Santiago Metro's subway fare. A series of massive demonstrations and severe riots originated in Santiago and spread to all regions of Chile, opening a national debate about the role of violence, corruption and inequality. Although the riots escalated, it also did citizen meetings and spontaneous civic dialoges all over the country. We realized there was an opportunity from that crisis. People were anxious to express their opinions and hear different ones.

In this context, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and the University of Chile decided to collaborate and open the resources, facilities and knowledge to promote a massive conversation beyond its campus.

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

This initiative is jointly led by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC) and the University of Chile (UCh), which are the largest, oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the country.

Specializations, Methods and Tools

Since 2020, we offered online opportunities for citizen participation and civic conversation crystalized under two participation schemes: online surveys and digital conversations through video calls. 

Online surveys: Participants could log their responses, ideas, proposals and opinions in 17-themed surveys from education, health, gender and inclusion, to the economy, the State and others. The surveys contained not only qualitative questions to be answered through open-ended written responses, but they also featured cases: the surveys ended with three to four cases, all of them inspired by real-life events. Participants had to read them and answer with open-ended, free-writing sentences after going through an empathy exercise. More than 95,000 surveys were recorded during 2020, containing beyond 600,000 responses. 

Digital conversations through video calls: Participants could choose to set a time and date for a real-time, two-hour-long conversation with 5 other people across the country through Zoom. This conversation was guided by a moderator and followed a dialogue methodology created by the Public Innovation Laboratory at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Participants themselves would share how they’ve felt in the past months, agree to talk on several issues and end up concluding several ideas, together, in order to bridge differences and converge. More than 12.000 participants were part of this mechanism from across all 346 communes in Chile, including prison inmates, and individuals living in isolated and rural communities throughout the country. 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The Latin American region share similar social, political and economical challenges that need to be faced collectively. That is why in 2021 Tenemos que Hablar de Chile shared the experience, methodologies and lessons with universities in Colombia. Six universities from different regions of the country have been working together on the Colombian version of Tenemos que Hablar.