Campus Spotlight: Florida Gulf Coast University
By Brandon W. Kliewer, Asst. Professor of Civic Engagement & ADP Campus Director, Florida Gulf Coast University
On April 2, 2013, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) hosted a campus-community civic dialogue on the role universities have in supporting commitments to democracy and advancing conceptions of the public good. The American Democracy Project on campus partnered with students from an Interdisciplinary Studies Senior Seminar to organize, coordinate and execute the event. Students from the senior seminar were introduced to theories of deliberative democracy in the course and were trained as civic dialogue facilitators and dialogue recorders.
The dialogue was orchestrated and captured using a rigorous dialogue method known as the Nominal Group Technique (NGT). Students that were trained in these methods will hopefully use this increased theoretical and practical knowledge as their civic identity begins to solidify outside of the university experience.
Students affiliated with the American Democracy Project and the senior seminar coordinated all aspects of the event. Over 65 students, staff, administrators and community members participated in the event by considering a series of questions related to the role universities have in supporting commitments to democracy and advancing the public good. Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University Jim Wolpart spoke to the importance of community dialogue and the role universities will have in confronting a series of issues in the 21st century. This video clip highlights Wolpart’s comments and illustrates the format of the event.
This civic dialogue was truly an expression of FGCU’s commitment to meaningful campus-community partnerships and community-engaged scholarship. The FGCU community and local community participants hope to transfer the results from the civic dialogue into a format that can be published in an academic journal. The campus-community civic dialogue not only engaged members of our community as democratic citizens, but also created a powerful infrastructure of dialogue that gave voice to members of our community that would have otherwise been unheard.