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Int’l Summer Certificate Program in Identity-Based Conflict Resolution

The Conflict Resolution, Management and Negotiation Graduate Program (CRMN) [in Hebrew] at Bar-Ilan University (BIU) has recently opened its International Summer Certificate Program in Identity-Based Conflict Resolution, in English. This Summer Program offers students the opportunity to earn 11 academic graduate credits and a certificate in a period of four weeks during the month of July.

Taught by leading scholars and practitioners, this is the only Israeli academic summer certificate program taught in English in the field of conflict resolution. It will examine international, national and local conflicts with a particular emphasis on identity-based conflicts. Its approach is interdisciplinary and addresses (more…)

Social Security: How Can We Afford It? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The National Issues Forums Institute published Social Security: How Can We Afford It?, a 13-page Issue Guide in December 2014 to offer information for deliberation on the future of social security.

From the guide…

Projections in 2013 showed that the Social Security Trust Fund could run out of money in 2033. Growing federal deficits and a rising national debt have made many wonder whether Social Security will soon become too great a burden on the workers who have to pay for it…

Many Americans are reexamining the principles on which Social Security is based and are thinking anew about the nature of individual responsibility. What does the government owe the elderly? Should saving for retirement be strictly an individual responsibility? Is it fair to require succeeding generations to shoulder the increasing burden of supporting retirees?

The question we must face is this: how can we best provide for Americans’ retirement?

The Issue Guide presents three options for deliberation: (more…)

Infectious Disease Outbreaks: How Should We Keep Our Communities Safe? (NIFI Issue Advisory)

In January 2015, the National Issues Forums Institute released the four-page Issue Advisory, Infectious Disease Outbreaks: How Should We Keep Our Communities Safe? The Issue Advisory is not a full NIFI issue guide, though provides a basic outline of options for participants to use in deliberation on handling infectious disease. It can be downloaded for free here.

From the introduction…

The outbreak of Ebola has reached the United States and this has raised concerns among many about how to respond to international outbreaks of contagious, potentially deadly diseases for which vaccines are not yet available.

Ebola spread so rapidly in parts of Africa—and its effects are so dramatic—that many Americans are understandably frightened that isolated cases in this country could turn into a more widespread epidemic. While contracting Ebola requires direct contact with body fluids from an infected person who is showing symptoms, health-care workers who had apparently been following precautions have contracted it.

Health experts say it is important to remember that the number of Ebola cases in the U.S. is minuscule, while according to the Centers for Disease Control more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for the flu each year. And as we work through how best to respond, many are mindful that the lack of sanitation and health-care resources is largely to blame for Ebola’s deadly toll in impoverished areas of western Africa. Recovery by patients treated in the U.S. has been promising. But at the same time, what many see as obvious gaps in protection by a variety of institutions in the early stages of the U.S. outbreak have people wondering how ready we are as a society for other, similar problems. While Ebola is one example used in this issue advisory, these considerations might apply to many other infectious diseases, as well.

The issue advisory presents three options for deliberation: (more…)

Healing the Heart of Democracy

In Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit, Parker J. Palmer quickens our instinct to seek the common good, proposing practical ways to bridge our political divides. In this personal as well as political book, Palmer explores five “habits of the heart” that can be developed in everyday settings like families, neighborhoods, classrooms, congregations and workplaces to help restore a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”:

  1. Healing the Heart of DemocracyAn understanding that we are all in this together
  2. An appreciation of the value of “otherness”
  3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways
  4. A sense of personal voice and agency
  5. A capacity to create community

The paperback edition includes a detailed discussion guide with links to 40 brief online videos where the author talks about key issues in the book. You can download the discussion guide, the videos, tips for organizing a discussion group, and more at www.couragerenewal.org/democracyguide.

About the Author
Parker J. Palmer, founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, is a world-renowned writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. He has reached millions worldwide through his nine books, including Let Your Life Speak, The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, and Healing the Heart of Democracy. Follow on Twitter @parkerjpalmer and on Facebook.

Healing the Heart of Democracy is available through Amazon or visit the book’s website.

Resource Link: http://lp.wileypub.com/healingtheheartofdemocracy

Human Impact on Climate Change: Opportunities & Challenges (IF Discussion Guide)

Human Impact on Climate Change: Opportunities & Challenges, a discussion guidebook from the Interactivity Foundation (IF), serves as a discussion guide designed to use non-ideological language that helps participants to separate potential policy directions from partisan agendas and arguments over science, and to explore possibilities for how they or their communities might respond.

Human Impact on Climate Change- Opportunities & ChallengesThe easy-to-use, 40-page guide frames the possibilities that discussion participants can consider in two categories. The first, “Setting the Stage,” focuses on immediately impact awareness and action, and the second, “Meeting the Continuing Climate Challenge,” is focused on the more complicated, long-term approaches needed to impact infrastructure and natural systems.

Here is how the report has framed six different possibilities for participants to discuss:


Community Heart & Soul Field Guide

The Community Heart & Soul™ Field GuideThe Community Heart & Soul™ Field Guide (2014) is the Orton Family Foundation’s guide to its tested and proven method of community planning and development. This step-by-step, four-phase method is designed to increase participation in local decision-making and empower residents of small towns and rural communities to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place.

Community Heart & Soul is based on wide and broad participation from as many residents as possible. Whether the focus is on comprehensive planning, economic development, downtown planning, or an outside-the-box vision and action plan, Community Heart & Soul aims to reach all residents of a town for the best results: results that pay benefits over the long haul.

The Community Heart & Soul Field Guide outlines a model Heart & Soul process. Each of the four phases is built around specific goals for learning, capacity building, and engagement. Together they lead to the overall project goals and outcomes.


Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy?

Written by Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP)Everyone Counts was commissioned by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State to celebrate the Participatory Budgeting Project winning the inaugural Brown Democracy Medal in April 2014.

Everyone CountsAccording to John Gastil, Director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, “The Participatory Budgeting Project exemplifies the essential features the award committee was looking for in its inaugural recipient. Political and economic inequality is part of the American national discussion, and participatory budgeting helps empower marginalized groups that do not normally take part in a process that is so critical for democratic life.”

In Everyone Counts, Josh Lerner provides a concise history of the organization’s origins and its vision, highlighting its real-world successes in fostering grassroots budgeting campaigns in such cities as New York, Boston, and Chicago.


Ripple Effect Mapping: A “Radiant” Way to Capture Program Impacts

A group of leaders in college extension programs created a participatory group process designed to document the results of Extension educational efforts within complex, real-life settings. The method, known as Ripple Effect Mapping, uses elements of Appreciative Inquiry, mind mapping, and qualitative data analysis to engage program participants and other community stakeholders to reflect upon and visually map the intended and unintended changes produced by Extension programming. The result is not only a powerful technique to document impacts, but a way to engage and re-energize program participants.

Ripple Effect Mapping can be used to help unearth and document the divergent outcomes that result from dialogue and deliberation programs.

This article in the Journal of Extension was published in October 2012 (Volume 50, Number 5). Authors include Debra Hansen Kollock of Stevens County Extension, Lynette Flage of North Dakota State University Extension, Scott Chazdon of University of Minnesota Extension, Nathan Paine of the University of Minnesota, and Lorie Higgins of the University of Idaho.


Evaluating the changes in groups, organizations, or communities resulting from Extension programming is difficult and challenging (Smith & Straughn, 1983), yet demonstrating impacts is critical for continued investment (Rennekamp & Arnold, 2009).

Ripple Effect Mapping (REM), is a promising method for conducting impact evaluation that engages program and community stakeholders to retrospectively and visually map the “performance story” (Mayne, 1999; Baker, Calvert, Emery, Enfield, & Williams, 2011) resulting from a program or complex collaboration. REM employs elements of Appreciative Inquiry, mind mapping, and qualitative data analysis. (more…)

Working Effectively with Public Engagement Consultants: Tips for Local Officials (ILG Report)

ILG-LOGOIn planning and implementing public engagement activities, local officials often contract with external consultants for services. These may be consultants who design and lead activities devoted solely to public engagement, such as a series of community conversations contributing to the development of a local agency budget. Or they may be consultants who carry out tasks well beyond public engagement alone, such as assisting in the overall development of a general plan update. This tip sheet from the Institute For Local Government offers several recommendations to help guide local officials in the best use of public engagement consultants.


Testing the Waters: California’s Local Officials Experiment with New Ways to Engage the Public (ILG Report)

This report—the first of two—presents the perspective of California’s public officials. It concludes with practical recommendations emerging from this study and its companion study on civic leaders’ perspectives for how to encourage productive relationships between local officials and the public and expand opportunities for broad sections of the public to meaningfully participate in local decision making. (more…)