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Updates from the Deliberative Democracy Consortium

Did you see the recent updates from the Deliberative Democracy Consortium? Our board member, Wendy Willis is the Executive Director of the DDC and they recently sent out a fantastic update on some things going on in the D&D network on their radar – including several notable articles, a review of the new book How Democracies Die, the Knight Foundation/Gallup poll’s survey results, and some upcoming events in the field. We encourage you to read the February updates below or find the original version on the DDC’s site here.


DDC February Bulletin

American Democracy at Risk
There is this report detailing risks to American democracy. Though it takes a fairly partisan stance, it has pretty good (and persuasive) list of six markers of a democracy in decline. You can guess what they are–everything from intentionally undermining independent institutions to delegitimizing immigrants and religious minorities.

And this from Ezra Klein in Vox highlighting the new book from Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies DieAs Klein puts it: “Of the book’s broad lessons, this is the one of most relevance to the United States in 2018: Democracies fend off challenges when participants value the preservation of the system — its norms and ideals and values — (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

TheChisel Releases the American Dream Survey Results

We are excited to lift up this article from Deborah Devedjian, Founder of TheChisel.com, on the recent results from their “What’s Your American Dream?” survey – and the results might surprise you! One of the biggest highlights they found is that of the 34 issues surveyed, Americans agreed on their #1 goal for 53% of those issues. NCDD was proud to be part of this coalition, in addition to many other organizations, including fellow NCDDers – Living Room ConversationsAllSides, and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. We encourage you to read the announcement below or find the original version on PR Newswire’s site here.


Bipartisan Survey Shows Right, Left, and Center Agree on #1 Goal for 53% of 34 Issues

In this era of political divide and rancor, a new nationwide bipartisan coalition has just published results of the What’s Your American Dream? survey spearheaded by TheChisel.com, a unique bipartisan civic engagement platform. The results show that Americans’ shared values far outweigh their differences.

Survey shows Right, Left, and Center Agree on their #1 goal in achieving the American Dream for 53% of 34 issues surveyed. For a further 21% of issues, Right, Left, and Center share the same top 2 or 3 goals in varying order.

“The results demonstrate that, across the political spectrum, we Americans agree on important issues facing our country. Despite different vocabularies, dialects, favorite news channels, or professions, Americans still maintain many shared values,” said Michael Smerconish, radio and television host and a coalition partner.

What’s Your American Dream? breaks through the noise of entrenched media and politicians. The book paints a fuller picture of each faction’s mindset across a potentially contentious landscape. It’s a brilliant way of laying the groundwork for mutual understanding and legislative agreement,” said Pete Peterson, Dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, a coalition partner.  (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Apply for the 2018 Summer Institute of Civic Studies

We wanted to make sure folks in our network saw that the Summer Institute for Civic Studies is now accepting applications until March 16th, and we encourage you to read more about it in the post below. The Summer Institute will run from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Participants will then be expected to stay for the Frontiers of Democracy conference in Boston, immediately following the Institute from the evening of June 21st to June 23rd. You can read the announcement below or find the original version on Peter Levine’s blog here.


Apply for the 2018 Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The eleventh annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will take place from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University. It will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that brings together faculty, advanced graduate students, and practitioners from many countries and diverse fields of study. Please consider applying or forward to others who may be interested.

The Summer Institute was founded and co-taught from 2009-17 by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research at Tisch College, and Karol Soltan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. In 2018, it will be taught by Peter Levine with Tufts colleagues. It features guest seminars by distinguished colleagues from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Practicing Democracy from the Inside-out

Democracy is a living entity that requires diligent work both in our external world, as well as, in our inner selves. One of the ways to heal our democracy, NCDD member Mark Gerzon, president of the Mediator’s Foundation offered is, the need to focus on our inner work of engaging democracy with humility, the courage of curiosity, and a commitment to integrity. Many of us in the NCDD network have excellent processes and tools to facilitate good civic practices, and yet ultimately require this inner discipline. You can read the article below or find the original here.


Democracy is an inside job

If you take the medicine prescribed by your doctor and your condition only worsens, you know you need a new prescription — and perhaps a different doctor and diagnosis as well.

The same is true when democracy gets sick. I should know: my colleagues and I are part of a field called by different names including “civic discourse,” “citizen engagement” and “public dialogue.” We are some of the “doctors” who have prescribed cures that have not healed what ails America.

Ever since I co-designed and facilitated the Bipartisan Congressional Retreats in the late 1990s, intended to improved civility and collaboration across the aisle, I have been part of a community of practitioners who advocated a variety of communication techniques and public participation strategies designed to lift the level of public discourse in America. You don’t need a medical degree to know that our medicine hasn’t worked. The disease of incivility and dysfunction is worse now than when we started.

Like a lot of doctors whose treatments fail, we like to point fingers and say it’s not our fault. In our defense, it is true there are many other factors at work. We can blame (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Free NIFI Issue Guides and Save the Date for APV 2018

The National Issues Forums Institute, an NCDD member org, recently sent out an announcement via their newsletter offering free copies of their Coming to America issue guide on immigration, if requested by April 2nd. These guides are to be used for deliberation and then the results are given back to NIFI for analysis, so that they can share at the upcoming event, A Public Voice 2018 (#APV2018) on May 8th. APV is an opportunity for NIFI to talk with policymakers and their staffers about early feedback from the deliberative forums on immigration and the role of deliberation in democracy. You can learn more about this offer below and sign up to receive updates from the NIFI newsletter here.


FREE Materials Offer!

It’s not too late to request your free issue materials

Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome, What Should We Do?

Please join us and help your community be heard.

In partnership with the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) is making the digital version of the new issue guide about immigration,  Coming to America, FREE to download.

Also, for a limited time, FREE printed copies are available to forum conveners who sign up – REQUEST YOURS NOW.

All you have to do is plan to hold a forum on or before April 2, 2018 and agree to make sure participant questionnaires (also provided) get back to us for analysis and reporting. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Taylor Willingham Award Winner Announced for 2018

The National Issues Forums Institute – an NCDD member organization – recently awarded their annual Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award given in loving memory of our friend Taylor and her work in the field. We’d like to invite you to join us in congratulating Matt Miller, the recently re-elected mayor of Ashland Ohio. The award is given to those who are working to advance deliberative democracy in their communities, and you can read more about Matt’s work in the NIFI announcement below or find the original here.


Matt Miller is the 2018 Recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award

Matt Miller, of Ashland, Ohio, is this year’s recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award. The award, which is administered by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), is intended to help people who are interested in promoting deliberative forums in their communities as a way to help people talk about difficult public issues.

Miller, the recently-elected mayor of Ashland, Ohio, is especially interested in helping the community talk about the opioid epidemic, among other issues.

The following is more information about Miller’s interest in deliberative forums and his plans for using the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award:

Matt is a new member of the Advisory Committee for the Center for Civic Life at Ashland University. In November, he was elected as Mayor of Ashland, Ohio, and he is enthusiastic to learn more about the deliberative process and to use it to gain a public voice on major issues in the city. Additionally, people in the community will have a chance to learn about (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Participatory Budgeting Coming to NYC High Schools

Very exciting news from NCDD member org – the Participatory Budgeting Project, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that participatory budgeting will soon be happening in all NYC public high schools. With over 400 high schools, this is bringing PB to schools in a way that sets a powerful precedent for youth engagement and participation in democracy. Friendly reminder about the Innovations in Participatory Democracy conference happening next week and we encourage folks in the NCDD network to attend!

For those that will be at IPD, NCDD will be co-presenting a session on the first day which you can learn about in our blog post here and we also plan on having an NCDD meet up on Friday night – which we would love for you to join! You can read the PBP announcement below or find the original here.


BIG News for PB in Schools – and a BIG invitation!

Did you hear? Just this week Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in all public high schools in New York City!

That’s over 400 schools in total!

In his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio emphasized:

“We’ve got to prove to our young people that they’ve got the power to change the world around them. When people feel empowered they participate. When they can see the impact they’re making they come back for more. So starting next school year public school students will learn how to stay civically engaged and to fight for the future they believe in with our Civics for All initiative.”

At the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), we’re fighting for this future alongside young leaders like Jacinta Ojevwe and Vanessa Gonzalez – two of our youth scholarship recipients for (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Addressing Safety in Schools by Turning to Each Other

In the wake of the current gun violence, NCDD sponsoring organization Essential Partners recently shared this piece written by their executive director Parisa Parsa, on the urgency for people to come together and address how do we keep our schools and communities safer. She talks about the need to come in conversation with each other from a place of creativity and with the purpose of recognizing our shared values, and rise above the current polarization. These conversational practices are vital in order to deepen relationships and ultimately work towards preventing another mass shooting from happening again. You can read the Essential Partner’s article below or find the original version here.


…As if our lives depend on it

The question was: what is at the heart of the matter for you when you think about the question of whether guns should be allowed in schools?

Seven people ranging in age from their 20’s to their 60’s, 4 women and 3 men, leaned in to listen closely to one another’s responses. They had many different views on the question of guns in schools, and guns in American life in general.

When it came time for him to speak, one man’s eyes welled with tears. After a long pause he said:

“Here is what is at the heart of the matter for me: I don’t want to be talking about this at all. I don’t want to live in a world where kids are not safe going to school. So when someone asks me what I think, all I can think is how can we make this stop?”

The simple recognition of our shared grief and anger brought more of the group to tears, and began a shift in the conversation. Person after person had already shared the values they learned growing up about guns, and now enriched by one anothers’ stories the sense of companionship led to a new entry point to thinking together. What would it take for our (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Winter Updates from AASCU’s American Democracy Project

For those working with civic engagement and higher ed, we wanted to share these recent updates from AASCU’s the American Democracy Project about several exciting opportunities! Coming up this Wednesday, February 28th from 1-2pm Eastern, is a free webinar on assessing civic competency and engagement, and how these efforts translate to student learning. Second, there are three different national ADP awards nominations that are now open and are due by March 30. Finally, check out the upcoming 2018 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting (#CLDE18) on June 6-9, hosted by the American Democracy Project (ADP), The Democracy Commitment (TDC), and the NASPA Lead Initiative. You can read the announcement below or find the original on ADP’s site here.


ADP Winter 2018 Updates & Announcements

With our recent effort to significantly increase our ADP programming, you might be interested in some of the upcoming ADP activities, including opportunities to get national recognition for deserving folks on your campuses.  Please pass along to those who might be interested as well.  Thank you in advance for your support

Free Webinar Featuring Assessment of Civic Competency and Engagement
Wednesday, February 28 | 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST
Register now

Walking our Talk: Converting Civic-Focused Mission Statements to Student Learning
Many higher education institutions include complex civic concepts as part of their missions, but how do we know if we are translating these lofty goals into student learning? Assessment is often viewed as a secondary or even bureaucratic institutional practice but done well it supports learning improvement processes that prioritize student development, organize institutional efforts, and direct change. This session will discuss recent ETS research initiatives focused on national trends in the assessment of civic competency and engagement as well as an institutional perspective on assessing and addressing these skills in (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

What would you like to see at NCDD 2018?

NCDD’s staff is in the beginning stages of conference planning, and as we do each conference year, we’d like to hear from the D&D community about what you’d like to see, do and experience at this year’s National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. Over the next twelve days (through March 9th), we’ll be seeking ideas from the NCDD community via email, social media, and the blog.

NCDD conferences look and feel a bit different each year because our events are experiments in collaborative planning, and our planning team is highly responsive to our community’s needs and energy.

NCDD’s national conferences bring together 400+ of our community’s most exciting leaders, innovators, learners, and doers, for an event that enables us not only to network and learn from each other, but to tackle our greatest collective challenges head-on, and to set the direction for our field.

What we cover at our conferences, and how we cover it, is important for this ever-growing, ever-changing field — and we want your input!  Everyone in the NCDD community (members, past conference attendees, subscribers, social media friends) is welcome to participate.

To help you get started, NCDD’s staff and board would like to share some of our thoughts with you and get some feedback. We notice that with the extreme partisan rancor of our current political environment, coupled with the continuous tragedies around gun violence and so much more – has many in this country calling for the need to be able to better listen to each other with more understanding and civility, to work more effectively across differences, and to improve the way people engage in democracy.

Just what our field specializes in.

So for the 2018 conference, we think making space at this year’s conference to dig deep into how we can bring the work of the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field out from what seems like the “fringes” and into greater visibility and use. There are so many valuable processes and resources that our field works on, and we’d like to explore the ways in which we can further make this work commonplace and bring it into widespread practice. We’d like to hear from you whether this resonates, and what ideas you might have for how we might explore this together.

We’re also seeking more ideas. As you consider our intentionally broad framing question, “What would you like to see happen at NCDD 2018?”, think about…

  • What do you think about the idea above?
  • What topics would you like to see covered?
  • What ideas do you have for awesome activities?
  • What would you like to contribute to this year’s event?
  • What could we do this year that might improve your work?
  • What could we do that would help us move the field forward?
  • What can we do while we’re together that we can’t easily do virtually?
  • Dream big, or be specific… it’s all good!

Please share your responses to these questions in the comments below, via our discussion listserv, and on social media.

If you’re interested in playing a role at the conference, helping with planning, or just attending, be sure to fill out our interest form for NCDD 2018, too!

We’re excited to hear your ideas and to get working on putting together another great conference!

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