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Launching a 3-year learning exchange with the Kettering Foundation

NCDD is pleased to announce that we are embarking upon an exciting three-year “learning exchange” with the Kettering Foundation.

This research with Kettering focuses on documenting and making explicit what NCDD is learning in areas of mutual importance to Kettering, to NCDD, and to our field. Specifically, under this agreement, we will:

  • Explore the capacity and track record of collaboration among practitioners in public dialogue and deliberation, while exploring new opportunities as well. This joint research will give us the opportunity to think through—with many of you—the obstacles to collaboration in our field and how to overcome them.
  • Leverage our network to help quantify the level of dialogue and deliberation in the U.S. We’ll be surveying you in a number of ways to find out where, when, and how often you’re engaging people; what your organizations’ strengths and specialties are; and what your hopes and challenges are. The goal is to inventory the assets that exist in our field as a whole—and present that information in ways that public administrators, funders, potential sponsoring organizations, the media, and all of you can access.

We will certainly need your help for these efforts to be successful. Many of you are working together on a wide variety of projects already. We ask that over these next few years, you help us to learn from your work and explore with us what’s possible. We’ll also be looking for people to help us catalog, report on, and map what we’re learning. Ideas, input and involvement from our members will be critical in all our upcoming work with Kettering.

I am so excited about this opportunity to work more closely with the Kettering Foundation and to create a better climate for dialogue and deliberation, at a time when our world so desperately needs it. Please join me in celebrating our new venture.

About the Kettering Foundation…

The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?” Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

The foundation seeks to identify and address the challenges to making democracy work as it should through interrelated program areas that focus on citizenscommunities, and institutions. Guiding Kettering’s research are three hypotheses. Kettering’s research suggests that democracy requires:

  • Responsible citizens who can make sound choices about their future;
  • Communities of citizens acting together to address common problems; and
  • Institutions with public legitimacy that contribute to strengthening society.

The foundation’s small staff and extensive network of associates collaborate with community organizations, government agencies, researchers, scholars, and citizens around the world. A monthly meeting series brings together Kettering staff, associates, researchers, and others with whom the foundation works to explore a tightly focused research question or area. Those working on related problems share what they are learning at the foundation’s many meetings, which provide space for an ongoing exchange of ideas and stories in an effort to develop research interests.

As the foundation’s learning progresses, Kettering shares its research findings through books, research reports, occasional papers, videos, and its website. The foundation also disseminates its research in three periodicals: Connections, the Higher Education Exchange, and the Kettering Review.

In addition, Kettering produces materials, including issue books and starter videos, for the National Issues Forums (NIF), a network of civic and educational organizations whose common interest is promoting public deliberation. The foundation collaborates with NIF as part of its research efforts.

Established in 1927 by inventor Charles F. Kettering, the foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that does not make grants but engages in joint research with others. It is an operating foundation headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. This is an excellent idea. As a researcher in this field, I have many ideas of what kinds of things we should – and should not – be measuring. I hope that this project will be made transparent, with adequate opportunities for us to participate in shaping the study. There are several US National Research Council reports that have dealt with issues involving deliberation and they’ve identified some important gaps in our understandings. This project has the capacity to address those.

  2. David Kahane says:

    Fabulous initiative; I look forward to hearing more.

    Alberta Climate Dialogue is working to document the challenges and successes of our own researcher-practitioner collaboration on deliberation projects, with a couple of papers in the works.

    We would be eager to connect with this broader undertaking.

  3. John Spady says:

    I am especially interested in the first agreement item above — “exploring the capacity and track record of collaboration of practitioners…”. I’m hopeful that this interest from NCDD and Kettering will strengthen the collaborative opportunities available to participants regarding the next important issue selected by the public for the 2014 National Dialogue Network.

  4. I’d also like to offer my help in evaluation design when you get to that phase. I’m so glad to hear this is happening.

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