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#ADP12: New NIF Forum, Shaping Our Future – How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?

Shaping Our Future


The new Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want? (2012) issue guide is now on the National Issues Forums website, along with a moderator manual, a promotional flyer, and questionnaire. The site also has a short description of the dialogue approach, with the three options.

Shaping Our Future is a national dialogue organized by the American Commonwealth Partnership, in collaboration with the National Issues Forums.

The following are ACP and National Issues Forum-related sessions at next week’s American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment National Meeting in San Antonio:

Thursday, June 7 | 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Pre-Conference Workshop: American Commonwealth Project Open Forum (open to all)
The American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment are two key partners in the new American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP). ACP is an alliance of colleges and universities, higher education groups, P-12 schools and others dedicated to the democracy college ideal for all higher education. Launched at the White House on January 10th, ACP grows out of the Civic Agency Initiative in the American Democracy Project and its ‘We the People” conference in Washington, DC in November, 2010, which laid initial plans for a movement in higher education to deepen civic identities of colleges and universities, spreading empowering pedagogies and community-connecting practices, in partnership with policy makers. At this pre-conference forum, participants have a chance to hear about several key ACP initiatives including the deliberative dialogues on higher education’s role in America’s future; “Citizen Alum,” strategies for broadening the role of alumni from “donors” to “doers”; and Empowering Pedagogies, approaches which bring civic agency into curricular and co-curricular innovation. We will also discuss ADP’s new Campus Civic Health Initiative, on ways to measure and improve civic health.
Forum Moderator: Harry Boyte, Director, Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg College (Minn.)
Presenters:  Julie Ellison, Lead Organizer, Citizen Alum and Professor of American Culture and English, University of Michigan; Thomas Morgan, Executive Director, Center for Faith and Learning, Augsburg College (Minn.); Kara Lindaman, Associate Professor and ADP Director, and Laura Lake, student, Winona State University (Minn.); Blase Scarnati, Director, First Year Seminar Program and Global Learning, Northern Arizona University and Kaylesh Ramu, Student Government Association President, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Friday, June 8 | 10:30 a.m. – Noon
Featured Session:
National Issues Forum –Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?
This session features a deliberative forum using the new NIF guide Shaping Our Future. This forum also provides an experiential introduction to key concepts and practices in deliberative politics such as naming and framing issues, choice work, and trade-offs experience with choice work. Shaping Our Future was developed by National Issues Forums and the Kettering Foundation and it will be used in collaboration with the American Commonwealth Partnership.
Presenters: John Dedrick, Vice President and Program Director, Charles F. Kettering Foundation and William V. Muse, President, NIF Institute.
Forums will be moderated by: Cristin Foster, Assistant Program Director, and Chris McCauley, Executive Director, David Mathews Center for Civic Life; Doug Garnar, Professor and Service Learning Program Director, and Lisa Strahley, Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Early Childhood Development, Broome Community College (N.Y.);  Kara Lindaman, Associate Professor and ADP Campus Director, Winona State University (Minn.); and Alberto Olivas, Director, Center for Civic Participation and Bernie Ronan, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Maricopa Community Colleges (Ariz.)

Friday, June 8| 3 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Concurrent Session
Deliberative Politics and Organizing for Deliberative Decision Making
This session discusses the role of public deliberation in democratic politics, introduces research on developing frameworks for productive public deliberations over controversial issues and provides information useful to people who want to organize and lead forums on campuses and in community.
Presenters: John Dedrick, Vice President and Program Director, Charles F.  Kettering Foundation; Cristin Foster, Assistant Program Director, David Mathews Center for Civic Life; Chris McCauley, Executive Director, David Mathews Center for Civic Life; Bill Muse, President, National Issues Forums Institute


The following is excerpted from the issue guide titled Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?

The diverse system of US higher education–including public and private universities, smaller four-year independent colleges, two-year community colleges, for-profit schools, and others–already serves a number of important social

purposes.  But this guide focuses on the future.  It takes up this fundamental question:  How should higher education help us create the society we want?  It offers three options to consider, each with benefits as well as drawbacks.

While it’s certainly possible for higher education to pursue multiple goals, it’s also true that colleges and universities can’t do everything.  To be effective, they need to focus their energies and set priorities.  As we envision higher education in the future, there are options and trade-offs, and it’s important to think and talk about them with our fellow citizens.  By doing so, we can begin to make tough choices about what higher education can and should be expected to do.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation.

Option One: Focus on Staying Competitive in the Global Economy
Higher education should help ensure that our economy remains competitive in a tough global marketplace–and that means recapturing our lead in science and technology.  Countries like China are transforming their systems to educate more high-tech professionals, and we should too.  It’s our best chance to keep our economy growing.

Option Two: Work Together and Repair an Ailing Society
Many of the problems we face as a nation reflect an underlying crisis of division and mistrust.  Higher education shapes students’ views about the larger society, and it can do more to strengthen values like responsibility, integrity, and respect for others.  Students also need real-life experience in collaboration and problem solving.

Option Three: Ensure that Everyone Gets a Fair Chance
We call this the land of opportunity, but it isn’t that way for many Americans.  Because graduating from college unlocks the door to advancement, higher education and government should do much more to ensure that all Americans have an equal shot at getting a degree–without accumulating huge debts.

Download the post forum questionnaire for Shaping Our Future forums.pdf (113 K)
Download a promotional flyer about Shaping Our Future forums project.doc (483 K)
Download a guide for moderators for Shaping Our Future.pdf (185 K)
Download the issue guide, Shaping Our Future.pdf (462 K)
Forum conveners/moderators, please submit information about your upcoming forum for the NIF calendar
Forum moderators, after your forum please complete this brief survey
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