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Posts tagged ‘civic dialogue’

New NIFI Issue Guide on The Opioid Epidemic

A new resource is available for dialogue and deliberation from our friends at the National Issues Forums Institute (

What Should We Do about the Opioid Epidemic?

This new issue advisory titled What Should We Do about the Opioid Epidemic is now available to order as a downloadable pdf (free). A post-forum questionnaire is also available to download (free).

Opioid Issue Guide

The following is excerpted from the guide.

In the last year, doctors wrote more than 236 million prescriptions for opioids, or about one for every American adult. But many patients became addicted to the painkillers as their bodies began to tolerate higher and higher doses. Others, if they could no longer get prescriptions, switched to heroin; then came the even deadlier fentanyl…

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation, along with their drawbacks. Each option offers advantages as well as risks. If we increase enforcement, for example, this may result in many more people in prison. If we reduce the number of prescriptions written, we may increase suffering among people with painful illnesses.

Option 1: Focus on Treatment for All

This option says that, given the rising number of deaths from opioids, we are not devoting enough resources to treatment to make real headway in turning around the epidemic. Addiction is primarily a medical and behavioral problem, and those are the best tools for combating the crisis. Treatment should be available on demand for anyone who wants it. At the same time, the pharmaceutical companies that have profited from making and promoting opioid painkillers need to contribute more to the solution.

Option 2: Focus on Enforcement

This option says that our highest priority must be keeping our communities safe and preventing people from becoming addicted in the first place. Strong enforcement measures are needed, including crackdowns and harsher sentences for dealers, distributors, and overprescribing doctors. And we should take tougher measures to cut off the supply of drugs at the source. Addiction to opioids and other hard drugs brings with it crime and other dangers, and closing our eyes to these dangers only makes the problem worse. Mandatory drug testing for more workers is needed. In the long run, a tough approach is the most compassionate.

Option 3: Focus on Individual Choice

This option recognizes that society cannot force treatment on people. We should not continue to waste money on a failed “war on drugs” in any form. Only those who wish to be free of addiction end up recovering. We should be clear that crime will not be tolerated, but if people who use drugs are not harming society or behaving dangerously, they should be tolerated and allowed to use safely, even if they are damaging their own lives, Those who do not or cannot make the decision to get well should not be forced, and communities shouldn’t spend their limited resources trying to force treatment on people.

Click here to read more and to download these materials.

About Deliberation in National Issues Forums
National Issues Forums issue guides are designed to stimulate public deliberation, which is a way of making decisions together that is different from discussion or debate.  The purpose of deliberative forums is to inform collective action.  As citizens, we have to make decisions together before we can act together, whether with other citizens or through legislative bodies.  Acting together is essential for addressing problems that can’t be solved by one group of people or one institution.  These problems have more than one cause and therefore have to be met by a number of mutually reinforcing initiatives with broad public participation.

About the National Issues Forums Institute
The National Issues Forums Institute’s mission is to promote the use of public deliberation in schools, colleges, civic organizations, and religious institutions in the United States.  The institute’s members are volunteers drawn from leaders in government, colleges and universities, libraries, civic organizations, the media, and medicine.  For more information visit

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:

Text, Talk, Act to Improve Mental Health

Creating Community Solutions, part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health, is hosting a nationwide discussion on mental health using text messaging technology. “Text, Talk, Act to Improve Mental Health” will be held on December 5th – people from all over the country will join together in small groups for one-hour discussions on mental health. Participants will receive polling & discussion questions and process suggestions via text message.

Mental Health

The process is simple:
1. Receive reminders and materials before the event at the TextTalkAct webpage (this step is optional)
2. Bring some people together on December 5th
3. Form into groups of 4-5, with at least one cellphone per group
4. Text “start” to 89800

Participants can host their one-hour discussion at any time on December 5th. This event was created as an easy way for people to organize discussions on mental health, and the text messaging technology is being utilized to encourage young people to join, using technology that is ubiquitous in their lives.

Results from the live polling questions will be tabulated almost instantly, so that people will be able to see how participants across the country responded. The discussion questions will provide a safe space for candid dialogue on mental health, one of the most critical and misunderstood public issues we face. The process will also provide an opportunity for participants to discuss actions they can take to strengthen mental health on their campuses and in their communities.

This December 5th, join Creating Community Solutions in a nationwide discussion on mental health….via your cell phone. All over the country, on the same day, people will get together in small groups for one-hour discussions on mental health.

Campus Spotlight: Florida Gulf Coast University

By Brandon W. Kliewer, Asst. Professor of Civic Engagement & ADP Campus Director, Florida Gulf Coast University

FGCU logoOn 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.

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