Posts Tagged 'Dialogue and Deliberation'

Journal of Public Deliberation | The State of the Field

Journal of Public Deliberation 

Laura W. Black, PhD, Editor
Timothy J. Shaffer, PhD & Nancy L. Thomas, JD, EdD, Associate Editors

July 2, 2014
Special Issue: The State of the Field
Essays on the accomplishments of and challenges to public engagement and deliberative democracy

Edited by Laura W. Black, Timothy J. Shaffer, and Nancy L. Thomas

This special issue of the Journal of Public Deliberation consists of a collection essays by leading innovators and scholars who share a commitment to increased and improved participation by everyday Americans in public discourse, community problem solving, and social policy making.  The “field” of public deliberation has made impressive advances in the last thirty years in both theory and practice.

Despite these gains, many scholars and practitioners can point to challenges and concerns, ranging from “what do we call this work?” to “how do we build a strong civic infrastructure for public engagement?”  Writers responded to questions about the scope and boundaries of the work, the relationship between deliberation and democracy, the tensions between advocacy and deliberation, the risks associated with steadfast neutrality, and future directions for the field. They help us see that popular declarations in favor of “more public participation” require more reflection and intentionality.  The issue also includes promising future directions, some insightful personal essays, and reviews of books that highlight the breadth of deliberative engagement. To read the issue, visit

The Journal of Public Deliberation is supported by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the International Association for Public Participation. This issue is being used as the basis for discussion and planning at the 2014 Frontiers of Democracy conference, July 16-18, 2014 at Tufts University. For information on the conference, please visit

An annual event, Frontiers is co-sponsored by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, The Democracy Imperative, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), and the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. After the conference, there will be a reflective essay in the Journal of Public Deliberation based on the discussion that takes place at Frontiers to continue the conversation about the state of the field of public deliberation and its future.

JPD is supported not only by IAP2 and DDC, but by a range of other institutions, including:

The Future of Higher Education: Divided We Fail?

Divided We Fail: Why it’s Time for a Broader, More Inclusive Conversation on the Future of Higher Education 

A 2014 Report by Public Agenda

Divided We Fail_covThis is a final report on the 2013 National Issues Forums on higher education using the issue guide Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?

This report describes the thinking of college students, parents, professors, employers, retirees, and others who have gathered in more than 115 public forums around the country to deliberate on the future of higher education. Held under the auspices of the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), in collaboration with the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP), and The Democracy Commitment (TDC), these deliberative forums began in summer 2012 and will continue through summer 2014. All three conveners are nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations.

Read the full report here: 

Campus Programming: Text, Talk, Act to Improve Mental Health

Text, Talk, Act is back! This April 24th, gather together to help end the silence on mental health.

Text, Talk, Act to Improve Mental Health is an hour-long event that uses text messaging to get people talking about mental health and encourage them to take action. Through this event, young people can have a conversation with their peers and give voice to an issue that can otherwise be difficult to speak about. Using a technology that is ubiquitous with their lives, this is a fun event that reaches youth through text messages.

Text, Talk, Act helps impact the way people think and talk about mental health. Participants in a previous event said:


This event is geared toward young people, but people of all ages can participate and benefit from it. It’s very simple:

  1. At any time on April 24th, gather 3-4 of your friends, family, classmates,  students, and/or colleagues;
  2. Text “start” to 89800; and
  3. Receive polling questions and discussion questions via text messaging while having a face-to-face dialogue with your group.

The process takes one hour. The result can last a lifetime.

Please join us this April 24th! Visit to learn more, sign up to receive reminders for the event AND make a statement by adding a pin to our map – showing that a conversation will be happening in YOUR  community!


Looking for funding? Deliberative Democracy & Public Engagement Grant Opportunity

By Stephanie South, Intern, American Democracy Project

NIFI LogoThe deadline for the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund Grants has been extended until December 31, 2012.

This grant, from the National Issues Forums Institute, aims to enable an individual to develop an understanding of public engagement and deliberative democracy and to plan and launch one or more deliberative forums in their communities or organizations.

Grants are expected to be in the range of $500-1,000.

To learn more about how to apply, click here.

To learn more about Taylor L. Willingham and her work, click here.

Campus Spotlight: Weber State’s Deliberative Democracy Day

By Leah Murray, Associate Professor, Political Science and Philosophy and ADP Campus Co-Coordinator, Weber State University

Weber State University, located in Ogden, Utah, is a comprehensive public University that serves a dual mission – as an open-enrollment community college for Northern Utah as well as a regional university offering a full range of baccalaureate and masters degrees. The Academic Affairs and Student Affairs divisions at Weber State University co-manage the American Democracy Project, which reflects a larger institutional commitment to a strong division partnership. Weber State University’s Deliberative Democracy Day is one model of that management, although we run all of our programming in this manner.

In 2009, Weber State University hosted its first Deliberative Democracy Day. The process begins in student government when student senators choose a topic they would like to deliberate. Each of the four times we have hosted Deliberative Democracy Day, the students chose a difficult topic: immigration reform, education access, health care reform and gay marriage. Once a topic is selected, a committee of faculty experts in the field is convened to plan the day. The committee, in conversation with students, chooses a slate of panelists who will come and be available to answer questions from students. The committee also creates a list of interesting questions that students will discuss before hearing from the panel. A number of students are trained as focus group leaders and they facilitate conversation about the topic. On the day, students arrive planning to spend four to five hours together engaged in intense deliberation about an important political issue. This deliberation begins with focus groups and ends with asking questions of the expert panel.

Faculty discuss same-sex marriage and its possible effects on democracy during Weber State University’s Deliberative Democracy Day.

This past year, the students chose gay marriage, which in Utah is banned. Student senators wanted to discuss the effects of gay marriage on society. Previous to the day, we surveyed students for their opinions and then we surveyed students who attended Deliberative Democracy Day. We examined the difference between the students who attended Deliberative Democracy Day and the general student population. Due to respondent identification issues, we cannot claim student opinion change, but we can claim a difference between the groups. As you see from Figure 1 below, students who attended the Deliberative Democracy day indicated a more favorable attitude toward same sex marriage than by students who did not attend.

Another feature of Deliberative Democracy Day is that an upper division Community-Based Learning political science methods course collaborated with the American Democracy Project to study the survey results and presented the research at an end of year symposium. As a result, information from our Deliberative Democracy Day was disseminated to a wider University audience while also serving to train political science majors.

Our student senators are currently debating the topic for 2013. Once they choose, we will begin the process. We also plan on resolving our respondent identification issues so we can demonstrate student opinion change on this year’s topic as a result of participating in Deliberative Democracy Day.

Figure 1. Do you think allowing same sex marriage will change our society for the better, it will have no effect, or for the worse?

Read more about Weber’s 2012 Deliberative Democracy Day here.

Learn more about ADP at Weber State University here.

Shaping Our Future Forums: Update & Free Moderator Training Webinar


Thank you for your interest in Shaping Our Future, our project to spur thoughtful, inclusive, and open deliberation on the future of higher education on campuses and in communities nationwide. Here’s an update from the National Issues Forums and the American Commonwealth Project on what’s happening this fall.

We welcome your comments, and please let us know if you’d like more information about participating in the Shaping Our Future Project.

Join Us For A Moderator Preparation Webinar
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2012:  2PM

This coming year, more than 60 campuses and communities will host shaping our future forums. Here’s your chance to find out how to participate.

This free webinar is designed specifically for anyone interested in hosting or moderating deliberative forums for the National Shaping Our Future Project. This project is a joint effort of the National Issues Forums Institute and the American Commonwealth Project.

Participants can ask questions and/or give comments via chat (or voice, if your computer has a microphone).

The webinar will cover these topics and more:

  • Overview: Shaping Our Future—its goals, rationale, and background
  • A primer:  NIF’s approach to moderating to encourage deliberation and dialogue
  • An introduction to the project’s print and video materials
  • Tips on expanding the dialogue between campuses and communities
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • A chance to talk with seasoned NIF moderators and learn from their experiences

Please click the link below to get registered today. Have specific questions? Send them to us ahead of time and we’ll include them in the webinar discussion period! (

Specific web URL and user credentials to access the Webinar will be sent to you upon registration via the email address you provided during the registration process.  Register Now!

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