Submissions welcome for the National Collegiate Dialogue on Race Relations

This post was submitted by Janice Ellis of, an NCDD organizational member. Please send all articles, position statements, well-framed questions, papers, or video lectures to Janice at

On Monday, September 16, 2013, will continue the National Collegiate Dialogue on Race Relations (NCDRR). This will be our fourth consecutive year of hosting the dialogue on race relations, which is very much needed. There are racially- motivated incidents occurring on a daily basis across America and around the world.

NCDRR provides an excellent opportunity for students and professors to actively participate in a healthy and meaningful exchange of ideas about this important issue that continues to pose major challenges in contemporary society.

I am inviting fellow NCDD members to submit a paper, position statement, or a previously published article for use as a discussion topic in the “Conversation Of The Week,” or “Issue Of The Week.”

The submissions can be in the form of a well-framed position statement, research paper or article, thought-provoking question, or video lecture.

Suggested areas for submissions for the 2013 session include:

  • President Barack Obama – What has been the impact on race relations?
  • Education – achievement gap/disparities, opportunities, trends across racial/ethnic groups
  • Sociology – stereotypes and social norms, intergenerational issues regarding perceptions about race and ethnicity
  • Work Place – how race plays in job placement, career growth, wealth accumulation, etc.
  • Community – physical, cultural, traditional lines of demarcation, housing, home ownership
  • Family Values – the ever changing roles, and traditions, as well as the short-term/long-term impact
  • Politics – the potential influence of the ‘Changing Face of America”; by 2050, America will be a nation of minorities. What are the implications?

We will be most pleased to receive your submissions. You can visit the National Collegiate Dialogue at to review previous submissions.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at or call me at 877-931-2201.

September 2013 Higher Education Engagement News

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Higher Education Engagement News is a periodic news briefing that responds to the request from many people for continuing updates and information about initiatives and groups associated with the American Commonwealth Partnership in 2012. It is edited by Harry Boyte.

This issue features my reflections, published as a blog in the Huffington Post, on lessons from the March on Washington and the South African Congress of the People movement, the foundation of the modern anti-apartheid struggle. These seem relevant to the challenges of making change in higher education today on a number of grounds that range from the specific – both movements were centrally concerned with democratic changes in education and higher education – to the broadly strategic. Both movements had a citizen-centered practical, majoritarian quality that grounded their moral visions and sought to “win over the large majority,” an approach brilliantly articulated by Bayard Rustin, organizer of the March.

Rustin is at last gaining much deserved visibility, during the 50th anniversary of the March and after President Obama awarded him the Presidential Freedom medal this month, posthumously.

Next issue will contain a shortened version of the National Issues Forums report, “Divided We Fail,” on the Shaping Our Futures deliberations about the purposes of higher education. The report, distilling the voices of more than 120 forums, shows a worrisome disconnect between the ways the general citizenry sees higher education and the ways in which policy makers see needed changes, a disconnect which threatens the “top down” approach described in the blog. Here is the link to the full report.
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New Report on E-Petitions and Engagement

We are happy to share a great summary of the new report on government-sponsored e-petitions from long-time NCDD member AmericaSpeaks.  The paper compares e-petition platforms from the US, UK, and Australia, and it’s a useful guide for thinking through the ins and outs of the many different e-petition platforms aimed at helping public engagement specialists make better use of this emerging technology.

You can read the full article below, or find the original post on the AmericaSpeaks blog here.


Exploring E-Petitions

By Elana Goldstein

AmericaSpeaks doesn’t often have the opportunity to be involved with projects like this, so it was exciting for the organization to take a step back and look at citizen participation from a new angle. We see e-petitions as a new means for governments to encourage increased citizen interaction and involvement in the policy making process. Over the past two years, AmericaSpeaks has been working with funds from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to explore issues related to open government. The grant culminated at the beginning of the summer with the release of “Government Sponsored E-Petitions: A Guide for Implementation and Development,” a paper focused on electronic petitioning and local government.

The paper serves as a guide for public managers who are interested in e-petition design and implementation. The guide breaks down the key decision areas that a public manager may face throughout the implementation process. In addition, the guide includes three case studies, each of which examines a different governmental entity’s approach to e-petition implementation. The first case study looks at e-petitioning in the United States with the Obama Administration’s “We the People” e-petition platform. The second case discusses state level implementation in Queensland, Australia, with an emphasis on using e-petitioning as a way to overcome geographic barriers to citizen participation. The final case study examines implementation on the local level with the e-petition platform in Bristol, England.

While e-petition implementation is highly dependent on the local context, several issues emerged as best practices throughout the case studies. For example, the use of a trial period in the early stages of an e-petition process gives the government time to work out glitches in the platform, as well as work to get elected officials and the public bought in to the benefits of the system. Similarly, we recommend that all e-petition systems utilize a time response guarantee. So, if a petition gathers enough signatures it is guaranteed a response within a specific time frame. While the amount of time will vary across localities and platforms, the guarantee will provide a sense of accountability for citizen petitioners and create a petition response structure that treats all petitions equally.

As more communities implement and innovate around e-petitions, our notions of best practices will change. In the long history of petitions and governance, e-petitions, we must remember, are still in their infancy. However, it is safe to say that the spread of e-petitions is a positive development for the practice of democratic participation. For citizens, the continued use of e-petition systems can lead to a greater capacity for civic participation, a greater ability to get things on the government agenda, and greater expectations for political participation outside of the voting booth. Citizen participation and increased government accountability through e-petition processes has genuine potential to strengthen linkages between elected officials and the participatory public.

We hope that you take the time to read through the guide and share it with your elected officials. Enjoy!

Find the original article here: Find the full report here:

marijuana legalization is not a youth issue

Because we study young people, I am always being asked questions about marijuana legalization that presume it would be popular among youth–and could even boost their interest in politics. I’ve been skeptical because I have never seen a survey of issue priorities in which marijuana has even made the list; and young activists rarely mention it. (Some talk about the incarceration crisis, but that is a bigger topic.)

Fortunately, the American National Election Study gives us some actual data. It asked people immediately after the 2012 election whether they favored legalizing marijuana. That proposal was fairly popular, although support did not exceed 50%, and it was not especially a youth issue.

Ages 18-29 Ages 30+
Yes, it should be legal 41.8 42
No, it should not be legal 30.7 32.7
Won’t say 27.5 25.3

The differences by age are inconsequential.

The post marijuana legalization is not a youth issue appeared first on Peter Levine.

Immigration in America: How Do We Fix a System in Crisis? (NIF Issue Guide)

One of the National Issues Forums Institute’s issue guides, Immigration in America: How Do We Fix a System in Crisis? (updated edition, 2013), outlines this public issue and several choices or approaches to addressing the issue. National Issues Forums do not advocate a specific solution or point of view, but provide citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those options, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common.

The following excerpt is taken from the issue guide. The 12-page issue guide presents three options for deliberation.

The costs and benefits of immigration have always been debated. But as we work our way out of a tough economic recession, some wonder whether newcomers, especially those arriving illegally, are compromising our quality of life, taking jobs away from those already here, and threatening our security and sovereignty as a nation…

The question facing Americans today is how to create a system that meets our diverse needs–a system that values the role immigrants play in society, takes heed of today’s economic and legal responsibilities, and keeps us strong and competitive in the future.

To promote deliberation about immigration reform, this guide presents three options, each built on a framework of ideas and information drawn from studies, speeches, interviews, books, and public policy proposals.

Option One: Welcome New Arrivals
A rich combination of diverse cultures is what defines us as a people. We must preserve our heritage as a nation of immigrants by shoring up our existing system while also providing an acceptable way for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living here to earn the right to citizenship.

Option Two: Protect Our Borders
Failure to stem the tide of illegal immigration undermines our national security, stiffens competition for scarce jobs, and strains the public purse. We need tighter control of our borders, tougher enforcement of our immigration laws, and stricter limits on the number of immigrants legally accepted into the country.

Option Three: Promote Economic Prosperity
To remain competitive in the 21st-century global economy, we need to acknowledge the key role that immigrants play in keeping the US economy dynamic and robust. This option favors a range of flexible measures, such as annual adjustments to immigration quotas, that put a priority on our economic needs.

More about NIF issue guides…

NIFI’s issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, issue guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

NIFI offers various materials for each of the issues it produces issue guides on. The moderator guide or “guide to the forums” for each issue is available as a free download. Discussion guides (or “issue guides”) for participants are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). DVD’s can also be purchased for some issues for just $6, for use at the beginning of your forums to introduce the topic and approaches.

All NIF issue guides and associated tools can be accessed at

Resource Link: