EvDem Offers $10K Award for Leadership in Democracy

We want encourage our etwork to consider submitting a nomination for the new $10K leadership award being offered by NCDD member organization Everyday Democracy. This new award can be granted to anyone 16 or older whose work embodies the values EvDem’s work reflects, but the deadline for nominations is June 15, so don’t wait too long! You can learn more about the award criteria and how to submit a nomination in the EvDem announcement below or find the original announcement here.


Announcing the Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award

EvDem LogoWe are pleased to announce the first annual Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award. This $10,000 award will be given to an individual and/or organization that demonstrates the values on which Everyday Democracy was founded – voice, connection, racial equity, and community change.

For more than 25 years, Everyday Democracy has worked in communities across the country to foster a strong and vibrant democracy – one that is characterized by strong relationships across divides, leadership development, lifting up the voices of all people, and celebrating racial equity.

Paul and Joyce Aicher’s generosity and creative genius have had a profound impact on individuals and organizations in every part of this country. Their passion and diligent effort inspired the dialogue guides, organizing and facilitating training, and community coaching that Everyday Democracy is so well known for delivering.

Through this award, we will recognize the work of individuals and/or organizations across the U.S. for outstanding achievement in creating opportunities for people to talk to and listen to each other, work together for equitable communities, and help create a democracy that works for everyone.

Download an information sheet about the award (PDF).

A brief history of Paul and Joyce Aicher

Paul J. Aicher’s motto, “Don’t just stand there, do something,” marked all that he did. Before founding the Study Circles Resource Center (now called Everyday Democracy) in 1989, he was a model for civic engagement. Shortly after graduating from Penn State, he participated in a discussion course which helped him find his voice in civic life and sparked his lifelong interest in helping others find their own. He saw a direct connection between his early experiences as a participant and a facilitator and his later vision for embedding these kinds of opportunities into American political life and culture.

Throughout his life, he spent his free time volunteering. Early in their marriage, he and his wife Joyce got involved with a refugee resettlement project in Illinois; Paul then served as president of the North Shore Human Relations Council. Back in Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s, he started the World Affairs Council of Berks County and led his neighbors in discussions of the “Great Decisions” guides published by the Foreign Policy Association. Through his long-time work and friendship with Homer Jack, an American Unitarian Universalist clergyman and social activist, Paul developed a passion for racial justice and international peace, both of which would inspire his later social action.

In the 1970s, he devoted his energies to launching his company Technical Materials and raising four children with Joyce. But he always returned to activism. In the early 1980s, after moving to Pomfret, Connecticut, Paul joined the local anti-nuclear freeze movement. In 1982, he formed the Topsfield Foundation, which was renamed The Paul J. Aicher Foundation after Paul’s passing in 2002. It began with making grants to advance a number of causes: affordable housing; educating and engaging the public on international security issues; and networking grass-roots peace and justice groups across the U.S. As it became an operating foundation, it focused all of its efforts on its current mission – to strengthen deliberative democracy and improve the quality of life in the United States. In the past twenty-five years, it has been best known through the work of its primary project, Everyday Democracy, which supports communities across the U.S. in implementing Paul’s vision of public dialogue that enables everyone to have a voice and be heard.

Joyce shared Paul’s commitment to civic engagement, community activism, and social justice. With her quiet strength and humor, she often worked behind the scenes to make the work of the Foundation possible. She also strengthened the local community through her numerous volunteer efforts. She and Paul shared a love of nature, books, and the arts and were self-effacing advocates of democratic values. Joyce passed away in 2016.

Who is eligible for the award?

Individuals 16 years of age and older, coalitions, and organizations conducting projects in the U.S. are eligible to be nominated. Current Everyday Democracy employees and Board members are excluded from being nominated.

Award criteria

The award will honor work that embodies Paul and Joyce Aicher’s values, such as the following:

  • Creating welcoming opportunities for meaningful civic participation for all people
  • Actively including people in civic life who have often been marginalized, and providing ways for them to develop their leadership capacities
  • Building the capacity of existing community leaders to include others in community life
  • Practicing the art of talking to each other and listening to each other
  • Taking action that is grounded in crossing divides, and aimed at meaningful transformation in people, institutions, community culture, and governance
  • Creating opportunities for empowered voice that is truly heard
  • Addressing racial inequities through dialogue and collective action
  • Showing the power of bridging all kinds of divides
  • Making dialogue a regular part of how a community works and, ultimately, of how our democracy works

Nomination process

Anyone may nominate any person or organization that meets the criteria for this award. Click here for the nomination form, which must be received by 5 pm EST on June 15, 2017. You will need to provide contact information for yourself and your nominee, a short summary of their work, and a 500-1,000 word essay describing why you think they should receive the award.

Once Everyday Democracy receives a nomination, we will reach out to the individual or organization to let them know they were nominated and to ask if they would like to supplement the form with additional information for the committee to review. Submissions will be evaluated by a panel put together by Everyday Democracy.

Once a final decision is made, the winner and others will be notified during the month of August. They will be publicly recognized at a reception later in the year.

You can find the original version of this Everyday Democracy announcement at www.everyday-democracy.org/news/announcing-paul-and-joyce-aicher-leadership-democracy-award.

agenda for Frontiers of Democracy

Frontiers of Democracy will take place this June 22-24, 2017 in Boston. It is hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, with the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, Everyday Democracy, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, and the Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. Register now because two-thirds of the spaces are taken.

Draft Schedule (subject to additions and changes)

View the full conference schedule, including speaker bios and session descriptions, here.

Thursday, 6/22

5:00 PM                                Registration and Reception

5:45 PM                                Welcome and Opening Remarks: Peter Levine, Tisch College

6:00-7:00 PM                      @Stake: A game for generating ideas and discussion.

7:00-7:45 PM                      “Short Takes” talks, followed by group discussion:

  • Dr. F. Willis Johnson, senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri
  • Wendy Willis, Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium; Director of Oregon’s Kitchen Table at Portland State University
  • Jill Abramson, Harvard and former executive editor of The New York Times (invited).

Friday, 6/23          

8:00 AM                                 Breakfast/logistics

9:00-10:30 AM                     Plenary: Framework #1 for Civic Action:
Ceasar McDowell, Professor of the Practice of Community Development at MIT, presenting eight public engagement design principles to leverage the public’s voice in five strategic types of public dialogue

10:30-10:45 AM                  BREAK

10:45AM-12:15 PM            Concurrent Sessions. Choose among:

1. Civic Gaming
Joshua Miller
, University of Baltimore; Daniel Levine, Community Mediation; Sarah Shugars, Northeastern University

2. How to Teach Democracy in Authoritarian Nations
Tianlong You
, Arizona State; Haimo Li, University of Houston; Yao Lin, City University of Hong Kong

3. Are We Still Relevant? The role of Democratic Deliberation Innovators in a “Downgraded Democracy”
Jessie Conover, Healthy Democracy; Ashley Trim, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic

4. How Do We Midwife the Emergence of Wise Governance Networks?
Tracy Kunkler
, Circle Forward; Tom Atlee, Co-Intelligence Institute; Steve Waddell, Networking Action

5. Beyond Novelty: What Sustainable Civic Media Practice Looks Like
Eric Gordon
and Gabriel Mugar, Emerson College Engagement Lab

6. Working to Instill Intellectual Humility in our Classrooms and Civic Life
Jonathan Garlick
, Tufts University and Lauren Barthold, Endicott College and Essential Partners

7. Crime, Safety and Justice: Creating Opportunities for Citizen Decision-Making
Amy Lee
and John Dedrick, Kettering Foundation; Martha McCoy, Everyday Democracy; Kristen Cambell, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

8. How to Start a Revolution
Maureen White
, strategy consultant; Pedja Stojicic, Senior Scholar for Stewardship and Engagement, ReThink Health

12:15PM                               LUNCH     

1:15-2:45 PM                       Plenary: Framework #2 for Civic Action
Archon Fung, Harvard Kennedy School: Analyzing Faces of Power.

3:45-3:00 PM                       BREAK

3:00-4:15 PM                       Plenary: Framework #3 for Civic Action:
A “Fishbowl” Discussion of a draft Strategic Framework from Civic Nation + Co., moderated by Edna Ishayik of Civic Nation. In the fishbowl:

  • Jeff Coates, National Conference on Citizenship
  • Felton (Tony) Earls, Harvard University
  • Lewis A. Friedland, University of Wisconsin
  • Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Tufts University
  • Taeku Lee, University of California-Berkeley
  • Carmen Sirianni, Brandeis University
  • Janet Tran, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute

4:15-6:00 PM                       “Short Takes” talks, followed by group discussion 

    • Hardy Merriman, President of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflic
    • Rekha Datta, Professor of Political Science at Monmouth University
    • Ashley Trim, Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University
    • Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts

Saturday, 6/24

8:00-9:00 AM                       Networking breakfast

9:00-10:30 AM                     Concurrent Sessions. Choose among:

9. Teaching Youth Participatory Politics in Higher Education
Chaebong Nam, Harvard University

10. Working in and with Faith Communities in Times of Democratic Crisis
Elizabeth Gish
, Western Kentucky University; John Dedrick, The Kettering Foundation

11. The Battle for the Soul of Our Republic
Adam Eichen and Laura Brisbane, Small Planet Institute

12. Democratizing Our Schools
Roshan Bliss, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation; J.A. Strub, Students Organizing for Democratic Alternatives; Shari Davis, Participatory Budgeting Project, and others

13. How might citizens use principles of opening governance to confront authoritarianism?
Jonathan Harlow and Erik Johnston, Research Network on Opening Governance, Arizona State University
Center for Policy Informatics

14. How to Make Public Engagement Truly Engaging
Maureen White, Former Public Engagement Campaign Manager, Go Boston 2030

15. Putting Democracy to Work: Community Action that Binds, Not Divides
Rob Jones and Meagan Picard, Founding Forward Democracy Labs

16. Social Emergency Response Centers
Kenneth Bailey, Lori Lobenstine, and Ayako Maruyama

10:30-10:45 AM                  BREAK

10:45AM-12:15 PM            Plenary: Framework #4 for Civic Action:
Participants will work in groups of eight to apply this framework and will add ideas to a Google doc.

A Case Study of Linhai’s Grassroots Deliberative Democracy

Author: 
The following standard structure makes it easier to compare and analyze entries. We recommend you use the headings below and refer to our guidelines as you prepare your case entry. To view the guidelines, copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://goo.gl/V2SHQn Problems and Purpose 促进临海市委推动基层协商议事制度建设的直接动因在于,基层干部经常遇见这样的困惑和感慨:“为什么我们的一些决策是为了老百姓好,但是他们却并不理解?”让本来为了老百姓好的政府单位,往往被民众一再误解,造成项目难推进,工作难进展。经过分析,他们认为决策不透明、宣传不到位、协商不民主、执行不规范是四大因素,并且认为协商民主是削除民众误解、推进政府政策的好机制。在此背景下,临海市委积极探索建立党组织主导的基层协商机制,把协商民主引入基层的社会治理之中。 History 中共十八大报告提出了“积极开展基层民主协商”的新要求,十八届三中全会再次提出要“开展形式多样的基层民主协商,推进基层协商制度化”,习近平总书记在庆祝中国人民政治协商会议成立65周年大会上的讲话中强调 “人民群众是社会主义协商民主的重点。涉及人民群众利益的大量决策和工作,主要发生在基层。要按照协商于民、协商为民的要求,大力发展基层协商民主,重点在基层群众中开展协商。”为此,2014年4月,浙江省临海市委出台了《临海市建立基层民主协商议事制度工作方案》,并选择在白水洋镇、沿江镇、括苍镇进行试点。...

The Longbiao Group’s deliberative conversations

Author: 
The Longbiao Group’s deliberative conversations were part of a broader series of democratic conversations in Zeguo township. This conversations provided an opportunity for education and training, a first step in developing an improved relationship between management and workers. They facilitated a greater exchange of information within the enterprise, providing managers...

Deliberative democracy experiment at Guangming Village, China

Author: 
The Guangming Village local government sets up a platform for public deliberation and takes a neutral position in order to ensure fairness. Local deliberative democracy is not only political communication between the government and the people, but is also deliberation between different groups in society with different interests. The case...

NCDD Launches New Membership Structure to Strengthen D&D Field

We live in critical times. Dialogue, deliberation, and a commitment to effective public engagement methods are crucial to helping bridge the increasingly bitter partisan, racial, religious, and socioeconomic divides in our society.Small green NCDD logo

NCDD is committed to improving discourse and decision-making through better engagement by providing our members with the latest news, tools, and resources in D&D. But there is also a great need to do even more, and that means that NCDD must keep itself sustainable in order to help our community do this important work together.

In order to do that, NCDD is rolling out some adjustments to our membership structure.

What’s Changing?

The main and most necessary adjustment to our structure is that – effective immediately – we will no longer have a non-dues membership level, so in order to continue getting all the benefits of NCDD membership, our non-dues members will need to upgrade to a dues-paying membership level (individual, student, or organizational) by June 15th.

As always, NCDD will continue to offer some critical services and resources to anyone who is interested in D&D – for instance, our Resource Center and News Blog, our main Discussion List, and most of our online events will remain free and open to the public. But soon we will be making many of our services and other special opportunities – like updates about jobs in the field, access to the archived recordings of our Confab Call and Tech Tuesday events, the Emerging Leaders listserv, and more – direct benefits of membership.

This is a necessary step to ensure that NCDD is here to support our members for years to come. For a complete list of member benefits, please visit ncdd.org/join.

In order to streamline the process for everyone, we’re also making it easier to become a member by:

  • Offering a new monthly dues option in addition to our normal yearly dues plan,
  • Offering the option to auto-renew your dues via credit card,
  • And adding a sliding-scale for organizational members.

These are just some of the changes we’re making to our membership structure, and you can read up on the full list
of changes at ncdd.org/join.

We encourage our members and our broader community to review the options and make the commitment to continue advancing this work by joining, renewing, or upgrading your membership. Our current members will have until June 15th to ensure their dues are in good standing before any changes to their status will occur. For more information on these changes, see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Strengthening the Network for the Future

It will take strong commitments and collaborative efforts across our network to make the impact we wish to see in our communities and nation. NCDD continues to be committed to helping our network and our field strengthen its work and explore new areas for collaboration.

Together there is no end to what we can accomplish. And as we continue our efforts to address the deep divides in our communities and to improve civil discourse and decision-making, we hope you will consider recommitting to the work of NCDD or joining us for the first time by renewing your NCDD membership or becoming a member.

NCDD’s staff is honored to be able to support such an incredible network of people, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with you on this important work!

what gives some research methods legitimacy?

I’m back from a meeting of people who practice and advocate mixed-methods research (research that integrates quantitative and qualitative data). They have identified barriers or biases against such work. Editors and reviewers tend to be either quantitative or qualitative experts, journals impose tight word limits that are frustrating if you want to describe two complementary methods, and so on.

A more general question is how any type of scholarship gains legitimacy. I have observed several efforts to legitimize new methods, such as Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and Participant Action Research (PAR), as well as defenses of older methods that are being squeezed out, such as philosophical argumentation within the discipline of political science.

It is worth considering what gives scholarly methods legitimacy in the first place. I would offer a roughly Weberian theory. For Weber, “modernity” means secularization and specialization. Under those two conditions:

  1. It pays to demonstrate a specialized skill or capacity, because desirable social roles are now doled out to specialists—not (or at least not officially) to people who have social rank and pedigree.
  2. Specialists not only receive, but they also need, tools and methods that require scarce resources. A particle physicist needs a supercollider, to name an extreme example. If you can’t get access to the necessary instruments, you can’t practice the trade.
  3. The society as a whole lacks confident, consensus beliefs about ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and aesthetics (the classic four pillars of philosophy). But you can’t talk or think very well without having beliefs about those matters, and it’s difficult to justify them satisfactorily to people who disagree. Therefore, we make routine progress within smaller communities that share beliefs or that may even be defined by their shared beliefs.

You can see the result of these conditions in the development of academic fields. For instance, classicists used to be numerous and influential in universities. They possessed specialized skills: fluency in Greek and Latin and the experience of having already read all the major ancient classics at least once. These texts were widely believed to be better (ethically and aesthetically) than most or all of what had been written since. However, whole categories of people could not read them; for instance, very few women were taught Greek or Latin. They certainly couldn’t see the rare ancient manuscripts needed for the philological work of establishing authentic texts. Thus, being a classicist was rewarded with status and with scare resources, such as access to teaching jobs and libraries.

As the Greco-Roman classics receded in importance and lost their privileged place in the culture, people began to want to study modern literature. But virtually everyone in a country like England could read works in English. How then could English literature professors justify their special social role? One step was to develop a canon of difficult works that could claim to be as valuable as the ancient classics were. Having read Shakespeare and Milton set you apart a bit. Another step was to introduce philology and epigraphy to the study of modern texts. (That also required direct access to manuscripts and rare printed volumes). And a third step was to develop specialized and non-intuitive ways of reading, such as by applying theoretical frameworks.

Already in the eighteenth century, the editors of The Literary Magazine could claim legitimacy on the basis of specialization: “a selection has been made of men qualified for the different parts of the work, and each has the employment assigned him, which he is supposed most able to discharge” (quoted in Kramnick 2002).

At that time, there was still considerable consensus about values. In modernity, however, ethical, metaphysical, epistemological, and aesthetic values are seen as controversial and perhaps culturally relative. Fortunately, you needn’t justify a given philosophical premise in order to write an ordinary work of literary criticism today; you can just cite a major theorist who has been deemed legitimate within the scholarly community. Names of theorists become tokens that justify premises, much as scripture might justify spiritual assumptions within a traditional religion.

This is a purely external, sociological explanation of the development of modern literary criticism. I believe that the discipline yields valuable insights, so I welcome its development. Indeed, if literary criticism produced little public value, it might collapse. Specialized occupations need public support in the long run. Still, a Weberian perspective allows us to identify specialization and a reliance on canonical theorists as two responses to modernity, irrespective of whether the resulting scholarship is any good.

Most disciplines have used these means to capture scarce positions that bring status and resources.

  • Many natural and some social sciences use advanced mathematical techniques, which are difficult to learn. Physics and economics enjoy relative prestige in part because they use harder math than kindred disciplines do.
  • Many natural scientists need expensive instruments.
  • Ethnographers seem at first to be doing what anyone can do—observing human beings in their settings. But if you have done fieldwork in an isolated village in the global South, you have bona fides to be an ethnographer instead of a layperson.
  • Quantitative social science requires not only math skills but also large-n data, which is expensive to collect.
  • Qualitative researchers who achieve inter-rater reliability among numerous observers have the budgets and institutional support to hire and train those observers.
  • Some humanistic research requires access to rare objects.
  • Some practitioners of CPBR and PAR have social capital and cultural fluency in both academia and in highly disadvantaged communities. Their ability to code-switch sets them apart.

Within these communities, certain philosophical premises are typically shared. For instance, in most of the social sciences (both qualitative and quantitative), a moral value is something that a person or group holds and that has causes and consequences. It is not something that can be shown to be right or wrong, better or worse. However, a belief about the divine is incompatible with science and thus (implicitly) false. Among theologians, obviously, both of those assumptions are widely rejected. You have to be a kind of moral relativist to speak the language of social science, but that is a minority position in philosophy and theology.

Under such conditions, an approach like mixed-methods research struggles for legitimacy. Perhaps integrating quantitative and qualitative data would yield the most reliable findings under a range of common circumstances. However, the Weberian logic of modernity encourages some researchers to maximize their specialization in math, others to maximize their specialization in ethnography; and mixed methods fall uncomfortably in between.

One solution is a Weberian judo move: as experts criticize your lack of expertise, use their momentum against them by defining what you do as a difficult new specialization. That was one tactic recommended in the conversation about mixed methods. I find it more interesting to think about ways to combat the harmful consequences of modernity in intellectual life so that we begin to assign legitimacy differently. Obviously, the ideal way would be to reward solutions to public (including cultural) problems, rather than academic methods for their own sake. But that is a hard shift to accomplish.

[Citing Jonathan Brody Kramnick, “Literary Criticism Among the Disciplines,” Eighteenth-Century Studies, Volume 35, Number 3, Spring 2002, pp. 343-360. See also the future of classics and why social scientists should pay attention to metaphysics.]

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loyalty in intellectual work

(Los Angeles) Academics and scholars most commonly relate to institutions, movements, or fields of practice by assessing them. They identify the underlying theory or rationale of a given practical effort and assess its plausibility and its consistency with principles of justice. They also observe the actual performance of the practice to date and render judgments about success or failure.

Since my undergraduate days, I’ve instinctively adopted a different stance toward fields of practice. I’ve seen them basically as groups of people. I’ve never taken their theories completely seriously, because I expect them to evolve. And I’ve never seen the empirical data about success or failure so far as dispositive, because I assume that efforts will fail until they are refined and improved. You can start from many premises and get good results if you are open to reflection and change. The theory is less important than it seems.

Fields of practice are working communities of people who are either worth joining or not. What inclines me to want to join a group is a sense of its members’ motivations (in a very general sense) and their capacity or potential. Once I feel that I’m part of the group, I adopt a stance of loyalty. That doesn’t prevent me from making critical comments, either privately or publicly, if that seems helpful to the cause, but it does pose a question about any possible communication: is it helpful?

In this general mode, I’ve found myself part of the following fields or movements since my undergraduate days in the late 1980s:

  • service-learning
  • public deliberation and dialogue
  • university/community partnerships
  • campaign finance reform
  • public or civic journalism
  • k-12 civic education
  • relational community organizing
  • certain political campaigns
  • Action Civics

Clearly, these efforts share some principles or norms. Of the enormous variety of projects and groups that are active around us, most wouldn’t appeal to me as much as these. In We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For, I tried to analyze and defend the norms underlying the fields that I most admire in generic terms. Still, I don’t go around looking for movements that match all these principles. Instead, I tend to join movements that seem appealing and then try to reflect on their emergent principles.

Relating to fields of practice in this way sometimes causes misunderstandings. I’ve noticed that sometimes people expect me to endorse the underlying “theory of change” of a given field very strongly and are disappointed when I won’t. I usually cannot say that a given strategy or premise is the best one available, because I don’t really believe that. Instead, I think that a field or movement turns into what people make of it. So I see myself as a member who wants to make the movement as good as it can be, not as an independent scholar who has judged the movement and found it superior to others.

See also:  loyalty to place in the age of jet-set academiabringing loyalty backAlbert O. Hirschman on exit, voice, and loyalty; and “Seeing Like a Citizen: The Contributions of Elinor Ostrom to ‘Civic Studies‘” (because I see Ostrom as having a similar stance).