EvDem Announces Leadership in Democracy Awardee

In case you missed it, NCDD member org, Everyday Democracy announced the winner of the second annual Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award! Please join us in congratulating Beth Broadway of InterFaith Works of Central New York for her work in Syracuse over the last 40 years, and runner-up, Mayme Webb Bledsoe of the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership in North Carolina. We encourage you to read the announcement below or on Everyday Democracy’s blog here.

Syracuse New York’s Beth Broadway Wins 2018 Paul Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award

EvDem LogoBeth Broadway of InterFaith Works of Central New York is Announced the Winner of the Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award

For more than 25 years, Everyday Democracy has worked with communities across the country to foster a healthy and vibrant democracy – characterized by strong relationships across divides, leadership development, including the voices of all people, and understanding and addressing structural racism.

Beth A. Broadway was recognized for her more than 40 years as a force for justice, raising voice to issues of oppression, and advancing racial and social equity through the process of dialogue and action. Her racial equity work has directly impacted thousands of individuals and families and has markedly improved Syracuse and surrounding communities.

“Throughout her career, Beth has championed democracy and bridge building across divides of ethnicity, race, faith and socioeconomic background.” said Beth’s nominator, Shiu-Kai Chin, PhD, Prof., Syracuse University College of Engineering & Computer Science and Chair of the Board of InterFaith Works. “She has created space for the voices of those who often go unheard, and nurtured leadership skills in those who are frequently marginalized. At 11, she watched her mother stand firm in front of angry neighbors trying to prevent African American children from getting off their school bus at her newly desegregated school. Beth’s mother stepped between the mob and children to escort them into the building. Her mother’s courage is the touchstone for Beth’s work in civil rights and human service.”

Beth first served as a social worker for Head Start in Chicago. Working with single moms and pre-school children, she provided leadership training and a forum for mothers to learn to advocate for themselves and their children. To this day, Beth credits those moms with teaching her about helping people find their voice.

Beth has been one of the design thinkers and implementers of two city-wide democracy building initiatives, each of which has continued for more than 23 years. The two initiatives are The Leadership Classroom that trains grassroots leaders to view the world through a lens of equity and power, and Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, a neighborhood planning model that assembles grassroots groups, social service agencies, businesses and governmental departments in Syracuse to identify critical needs and develop annual and long-range plans for the city’s neighborhoods.

After serving as a consultant and board member for six years, Beth became director of the Community-Wide Dialogue to End Racism in 2001 which is now the Ahmad and Elizabeth El-Hindi Center for Dialogue. The Center focuses on ending racism, improving police-community relations and interfaith understanding. After participating in Everyday Democracy’s Communities Creating Racial Equity learning community, Beth adapted the dialogue work to take action on a specific need facing Syracuse: a city school district whose staff members are largely white and suburban teaching students that are largely of color. That work has contributed to increasing diversity of teaching staff in Syracuse and a commitment to continuing the work of creating equitable education opportunities for students of color. The Community-Wide Dialogue is one of the longest continually running programs of its type in the nation, having directly engaged over 12,000 people to date. It actively serves as model for communities across the country.

In 2010, she assumed the role of President/CEO of the entire agency, which, in addition to the above, settles refugees and is a welcoming center for immigrants and New Americans to the Central New York region. The agency also promotes interfaith understanding, provides chaplaincy services to people who are incarcerated and institutionalized, and serves frail elderly to affirm their dignity and break through the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies aging.
“Beth has raised the profile and practice of Dialogue to Change in Syracuse and across the country, and has held up a consistent vision of democratic participation connected to equitable change,” said Everyday Democracy’s Executive Director Martha McCoy. “ Beth models what it means to be a white ally – a leader who is committed to racial justice and to democratic dialogue and engagement. She demonstrates how to build inclusive spaces for people to start where they are and deepen their understanding of racial justice.”

“It is an honor to be selected by one’s peers for recognition, especially peers like those at Everyday Democracy, who have helped our nation develop the tools of dialogue and a racial equity lens that will keep our democracy strong. This award means a great deal to me, but is really a testament to the many hard working people, both staff and volunteers, that make InterFaith Works the caring, compassionate, and forward thinking agency that it is. The gift that accompanies this award will be added to our newly founded endowment that will assure that this work will go on for many years to come.”

This year, the Committee also recognized a Runner Up, Mayme Webb Bledsoe of the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership in North Carolina. They also recognized these strong finalists for the award: Campus Compact of Oregon; Marcia DuFore of the North Central Regional Mental Health Board in Connecticut; and the Michigan Community Scholars Program. Honorable Mentions went to: InterAction Initiative (Taeyin ChoGlueck and Deandra Cadet), Mishawaka, Indiana; and Deeqo Jibril, Roxbury, Massachusetts. Recognition of Promising Practices went to: The Connecticut Youth Forum, Hartford, Connecticut; Equity Arcata, Arcata, California; The Multicultural Resource Center, Ithaca NY; and Tracey Robertson, FitOshKosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Paul J. Aicher and his wife Joyce were known for their generosity and creative genius. A discussion course at Penn State helped Paul find his own voice in civic life early on, and sparked his lifelong interest in helping others find theirs. Paul founded the Topsfield Foundation and the Study Circles Resource Center, now called Everyday Democracy, in 1989.  The organization has now worked with more than 600 communities throughout the country, helping bring together diverse people to understand and make progress on difficult issues, incorporating lessons learned into discussion guides and other resources, and offering training and resources to help develop the field and practice of deliberative democracy.

You can find the original version of this announcement on Everyday Democracy’s site at www.everyday-democracy.org/news/syracuse-new-yorks-beth-broadway-wins-2018-paul-aicher-leadership-democracy-award.

ENGAGING IDEAS – 01/18/2019


The Populist Specter (The Nation)
Is the groundswell of popular discontent in Europe and the Americas what's really threatening democracy? Continue Reading

Waiting for a Shutdown to End in Disaster (The Atlantic)
Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table. Continue Reading

It's time for think tanks and universities to take the democracy pledge (The Washington Post)
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has put the spotlight on think tanks and universities receiving funding from the Saudi regime. Under pressure by media reports, a few think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution, the Center for International Studies and the Middle East Institute, have decided to return Saudi money. Continue Reading


Why midsized metro areas deserve our attention (Brookings)
Consensus is forming that place matters for economic policy; and evidence is mounting that the largest places are succeeding while smaller ones are not. Continue Reading

How Educational Opportunity Programs graduate first-generation college students (Hechinger Report)
Nationally, only 11 percent of first-generation students typically graduate in six years; 55 percent of New Jersey's educational opportunity program students earn a degree in six years. Continue Reading

As Poll Shows Majority Back 70% Tax Rate for Ultra-Rich, Ocasio-Cortez's "Radical" Proposal Proves Extremely Mainstream (Common Dreams)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sparked a flood of hysterical and error-filled responses from the right when she suggested in a recent "60 Minutes" interview that America's top marginal tax rate should be hiked to 70 percent to help pay for bold progressive programs, but a survey published on Tuesday found that the majority of Americans are on the freshman congresswoman's side. Continue Reading


New York's Democracy Reform Bill, and the Message It Sends (The American Prospect)
After decades in which all reforms were stymied, the new legislature enacted sweeping changes to voting laws on its second day in session. Continue Reading

Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin early-voting restrictions (The Hill)
U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled Thursday that the early-voting limits were clearly similar to restrictions that were blocked two years ago, according to The Associated Press. Continue Reading


As government shutdown drags on, New York City vows to protect school food program (Chalkbeat)
The federal government provides about $43 million a month to pay for school meals in New York City, and right now the city has money on hand that would last until April. Continue Reading

At Los Angeles Teachers' Strike, a Rallying Cry: More Funding, Fewer Charters (The New York Times)
After more than a year of protracted negotiations, the district's 30,000 public schoolteachers walked out demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff for students. But the union is also using the strike as a way to draw attention to what it sees as the growing problem of charter schools, saying that they siphon off students and money from traditional public schools. Continue Reading

Report: Online learning should 'supplement' - not replace - face-to-face instruction (Education Dive)
A new report takes a critical view of fully online courses and competency-based education (CBE) as regulators and stakeholders discuss the topics during the negotiated rulemaking session that kicked off this week. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

No Tuition, but You Pay a Percentage of Your Income (The New York Times)
Income Sharing Agreements are gaining the attention of higher education and Wall Street. One early success story is getting a boost from venture capital. Continue Reading

City University of New York Struggles to Fill Top Job (Wall Street Journal)
The City University of New York is close to ending its search for a new chancellor after having difficulties filling the position atop one of the nation's pre-eminent public systems of higher education. Continue Reading

America's colleges struggle to envision the future of diversity on campus (Hechinger Report)
America's colleges struggle to define, let alone achieve, diverse campuses in today's identity-centric and socioeconomically divided climate. Continue Reading

Health Care

Nearly half of doctors feel burned out, Medscape survey shows (Healthcare Dive)
Nearly 44% of American physicians report feeling burned out - and it's especially a problem for female doctors, according to a new Medscape report on doctor burnout, depression and suicide. Continue Reading

What's next after the CMS price transparency "first step" (MedCity News)
A new price transparency rule from CMS requires hospitals to post their retail list prices online, but critics are saying it doesn't go nearly far enough. Continue Reading

Microsoft, Walgreens team up to develop new healthcare delivery models (Fierce Healthcare)
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) and Microsoft Corp. announced on Tuesday that they will team up to develop new healthcare delivery models, including technology and retail innovations to disrupt the healthcare delivery space. Continue Reading

game theory and the shutdown

In game theory, you model a real-world situation by simplifying it to depict a finite group of “players” who are defined by preferences and choices. You predict outcomes based on how these players will choose. The structure of the choice matters, e.g., Will they decide simultaneously or in turn? Once, or several times? (Here’s my argument that game theory is useful.)

In the case of the current shutdown, it seems that at least the following six players are relevant:

  • Donald Trump: He can choose at any time between the status quo (threatening to veto a continuing resolution, or CR, unless it includes money for a wall) or folding (saying that he would sign such a resolution). His decision-making process is simple: he does what he wants to do. He could, however, renege on a promise to sign a “clean” CR. He presumably wants: 1) the wall, 2) the ability to claim a victory, 3) higher instead of lower popularity, 4) strong support among Republican voters, to head off a primary, 5) economic growth, and 6) an outcome that will satisfy the actual opponents of immigration (who know that a wall won’t really help their cause). NB: these are not in order, because I am not sure how to rank them.
  • Chuck and Nancy: They can choose at any time between the status quo (supporting only a “clean” CR) or else folding (agreeing to fund the wall). Their decision-making process is complex since they are elected by caucuses full of diverse interests and values. They presumably want: 1) no wall, 2) a victory over Trump that is popular on the center-left, 3) Trump’s popularity to fall, 4) the Republican congressional caucuses to fracture, 5) federal workers to be paid, and 6) other policies, such as DACA, to pass. Again, these are not in order–maybe they want 6) most of all.
  • Mitch McConnell: He can choose at any time to propose a “clean” CR or some kind of win/win agreement, such as the wall plus DACA. He presumably wants: 1) this whole thing to go away, 2) conservatives in Kentucky to like him, 3) Republican Senators in diverse circumstances all to be reelected in 2020, and 4) his caucus to hang together.
  • Federal workers: They can choose at any time between the status quo (showing up to work without being paid) or some kind of civil resistance: massive absenteeism, a wildcat strike. Their decision-making is very complex. For instance, the National Border Patrol Council (a union) is right behind Trump, but perhaps its members aren’t. In general, federal workers presumably want: 1) to get paid. Their other interests–such as harming or else supporting Trump–vary.
  • Right-wing personalities and organizations: They can choose to put pressure on Trump or back off. They like the wall but differ in how much they like it. Many know that it wouldn’t actually reduce immigration and are dead-set against giving up a punitive immigration law in return for a wall that doesn’t work. But their opinions on that matter vary. They need not speak in unison, and perhaps it’s necessary to model them as several players. They presumably want: 1) less immigration, 2) symbolic manifestations of white nationalism, 3) Democrats and liberals to look bad, 4) their own audiences to stay loyal.
  • The people who are sampled in opinion polls: They can each say whether they blame Trump or the Democrats. Their decision-making process is individual choice followed by a pollster’s statistical aggregation. They want lots of things, but current polls suggest that the largest group wants: 1) no wall, 2) the government to reopen, and 3) the politicians to move onto other things. This is what they say, but the partisan heuristics with which they’d assess any specific outcome cannot be discounted.

I tend to think that Tyler Cowan is right that the federal workers will end this. Of course, their ability to act is much constrained by labor law, but they still have a range of tactics available to them. Mitch McConnell is the other player with a lot of clout–but bad options, which is why he isn’t playing so far.

The time dimension is crucial, since the status quo could be interrupted unpredictably by a disaster that needs a federal response, an economic crisis, a serious decline in Trump’s popularity, an erosion of public support for the Democrats, or a major distraction, such as a certain Special Council’s final report. Smart players must decide how to choose based on deep uncertainty about what happens next.

syllabus of Introduction to Civic Studies, spring 2019

I am about to start teaching Intro to Civic Studies with my colleague Erin Kelly. Here is our syllabus, minus the grading rules, office hours, etc.

January 17: Introduction: A case from the Pluralism project to spur discussion and raise questions about organizational types and purposes, disagreements about values, and how identities are involved.

January 22: A “feeling of personal responsibility for the world”

January 24: The citizen in a modern democracy

  • John Dewey, The Public and its Problems, Chapter 5, “Search for the Great Community.”

Problems of Collective Action

January 29: Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School

January 31: Ostrom Continued

  • Thomas Dietz, Nives Dolsak, Elinor Ostrom, and Paul C. Stern, “The Drama of the Commons” in Elinor Ostrom, ed., Drama of the Commons, pp. 3-26.
  • Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons, Ch. 1.

February 5: Ostrom Continued

February 7 and Feb 12 Social Capital

  • Robert D. Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” Journal of Democracy 6:1, Jan 1995, 65-78
  • Robert D. Putnam, “Community-Based Social Capital and Educational Performance,” in Ravitch and Viteritti, eds., Making Good Citizens, pp. 58-95
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Forms of Capital, 1986 (excerpt)

Identifying Good Ends and Means

February 14: A Deliberation

  • Pre-read the Harvard Pluralism Project’s case entitled A Call to Prayer and be ready to discuss what the people of Hamtramck, MI should do.

First group assignment (a simulation) is due

 February 19: Habermas and Deliberative Democracy

  • Jürgen Habermas, “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article,” New German Critique, 3 (1974), pp. 49-55
  • Lasse Thomassen, Habermas: A guide for the perplexed. A&C Black, 2010, pp. 63-96, 111-130.

February 26: Habermas Continued

  • Jürgen Habermas, Theory of Communicative Action (selection) 
  • Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms, pp. 17-23, 38-41

February 28:  The Conditions for Deliberation

  • Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms, pp. 359-379
  • Danielle E. Allen, Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown, v. Board of Education, pp. TBA

Final draft of first paper due

March 12: John Rawls

  • John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pp. 3-19, 52-57

March 14: Testimony and Empathy

  • Lynn Sanders, “Against Deliberation”
  • Emily McRae, “Empathy, Compassion, and ‘Exchanging Self and Other’ in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Ethics” for Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy (Routledge), edited by Heidi Maibom, 2017.

March 14: Midterm in class

March 15-25: Spring Break

Social Movements 

March 26: Social Movements 

  • Charles Tilly, “Social Movements, 1768-2004”
  • Marshall Ganz, “Why David Sometimes Wins: Strategic Capacity in Social Movements,” in Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper, Rethinking Social Movements: Structure, Meaning, and Emotion (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004) pp.177-98.

March 28: Exclusion and Identity

  • The Book of Nehemiah
  • Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.”
  • Steve Biko, “Black Consciousness and the Quest for True Humanity” 

Second group assignment due

April 2:

Identity and the Common Good

  • Lilla, Mark Lilla, “The End of Identity Politics,” The New York Times, Nov. 18, 2016
  • Todd Gitlin, “The Left Lost in Identity Politics,” Harpers, Sept. 1993 
  • Transcript of an encounter: Hillary Clinton and Julius Jones

April 4: Community Organizing

  • Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, 1946 (1969 edition), pp. 76-81; 85-88; 92-100, 132-5, 155-158.
  • Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking, pp. 115-138

April 9: Nonviolent Campaigns

  • Martin Luther King, Stride Toward Freedom, chapters 3, 4, and 5.
  • Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, chapters 1 and 2 

April 11: Impure Dissent

  • Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos, 38-48, 252-73

April 16, 18: Nonviolence (PL)

  • Bikhu Parekh, Gandhi, Chapter 4 (“Satyagraha”), pp. 51-62;
  • Gandhi, Satyagraha (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing Co., 1951), excerpts.

April 18: Gandhi continued (PL)

  • Gandhi, Notes, May 22, 1924 – August 15, 1924, in The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes, vol. 28, pp. 307-310
  • Timothy Garton Ash, “Velvet Revolution: The Prospects,” New York Review of Books, December 3, 2009 

The Person in Community

April 23: Civic Education: What all this means for what students should learn (EK)

  • Joel Westheimer and Joseph E. Kahne, “Educating the ‘Good Citizen’: Political Choices and Pedagogical Goals,” PS Online

Third group assignment due

April 25: Civic Studies at Tufts and Beyond

Draft of second paper due

May 7: Final paper due.

Featured D&D Story: KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives

Today we’d like to feature a great example of dialogue and deliberation in action, KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives. This mini case study was submitted by Eileen Jerrett via NCDD’s Dialogue Storytelling Tool. Do you have a dialogue story that our network could learn from? Add your dialogue story today!

ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project:
KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives

At the end of September, Build Up joined constitutional and legal scholars, government ministers, and democratic activists from around the world at the conference on Democratic Constitutional Design (DCD) at the University of Iceland hosted by EDDA Research Center in Reykjavik. We presented a tool, in partnership with the Center for Democratic Constitutional Design (CDCD) and the University of Washington, to support the continued process of constitutional reform in Iceland.

Iceland may seem like a strange destination, possibly far from the characteristics we’ve come to expect for peacebuilding processes. Build Up staff collectively have decades of experience supporting efforts by peacebuilders all around the world, but mostly in non-Western and global South conflict contexts. We don’t think Iceland sees itself as a conflict or post-conflict country — but as we learned more about Iceland’s citizen-driven constitutional reform process, we recognized that what Icelanders are doing around their constitution process is relevant to all of us.

We came to know this process in 2014 at our first Build Peace conference at MIT in Boston, where Eileen Jerrett presented her documentary Blueberry Soup, a beautiful film that introduced all of us to Iceland’s remarkable constitutional reform process.

Being able to amplify and broaden participation in peacebuilding processes, which often times including constitution making, is critical. Build Up feels there is a lot to learn from the organic process that Icelanders have gone through and continue to pursue in the aftermath of their 2008 economic crash.

The entire history of this process, including crowd-sourced inputs from common citizens and the innovative process employed by its authors… are in danger of being lost.

We are profoundly moved by Icelanders efforts to re-imagine their constitution, by truly making it a people driven social contract. Too often, the legalistic and technical complexities of a modern constitution makes it inaccessible to the people it’s intended to protect; it’s not a government’s document, it’s a people’s document. At the DCD conference, there were some wonderfully provocative discussions on a variety of forms of engaging and convening people, both online and offline — whether through new forms of digitally connected conversations and crowd-sourcing, or mini-publics and deliberative processes.

At this point, the core drafting process of the proposed Icelandic constitution is complete. The Icelandic people approved the draft Constitution in a non-binding referendum in 2012, but a filibuster by the opposition party prevented it from being voted on by the Parliament in that year and it has been stalled ever since. There are a number of political parties that remain committed to the passage of draft Constitution, however, and citizen’s groups have worked hard to keep the issue of citizen-centered constitutional reform on the national agenda.

What’s at risk in this process is more than just the success or failure of a unique and forward-thinking citizen-driven constitution. Writing a constitution is a society’s statement of values and purpose. Imagine it as the core social and legal contract that holds a nation together. This would be the backbone of stewardship of public resources, spaces, rights, and laws, should the constitution, or even parts of it, be enacted.

Yet, the new draft of the Icelandic constitution faces other dire problems through this stagnation. Over a decade’s worth of documentation critical to the reform process, including interviews, drafting notes, analysis, films, photos, and other electronic and physical evidence remains scattered across the island on the computers and in the homes of many who participated. The entire history of this process, including crowd-sourced inputs from common citizens and the innovative process employed by its authors in drafting the reformed constitution are not easily accessible to Icelanders, and are in danger of being lost. The memory of the process, of what mattered to Icelanders in their difficult four-year struggle after the 2008 economic crisis, is in danger of fading away.

Given the resistance by some of the political elite to put that people-driven constitutional reform process behind them, losing this history could ultimately close the door on a process that still shows signs of life.

In collaboration with the Icelandic Constitutional Society, the CDCD, and the University of Washington, Build Up envisioned a portal to access an archive of the history. A well designed and well presented interactive analysis of events important to the constitutional process could help Icelanders stay connected to its relevance.

Through an ongoing process of input from Icelandic stakeholders, Build Up worked closely with Eileen Jerrett (CDCD) and Cricket Keating (University of Washington) to develop a portal prototype— a proof-of-concept that gives us an idea of what’s possible when it comes to preserving the history and telling the story of an active constitutional reform process.

Our initial presentation of the tool was met with overwhelming positivity. There is clearly a strong desire for this kind of resource, not only by those central to the Icelandic process but many conference participants from around the world were equally excited about having access to this important process and its history.

Build Up will continue to support this important process. Following the conference, we are now working with CDCD and the Icelandic Constitution Society to bring more Icelanders on board. While thousands of documents and electronic files have been collected, there are likely thousands more uncollected across the island. Icelanders will also need to play a central role in determining the proper framing for the resources as they’re presented through the portal, ensuring the material is relevant and usable. Ideally, this portal not only preserves the history, but also catalyzes new energy among those Icelanders who were central to the effort, as well as a new generation of reformers who were too young to participate in a process that started over a decade ago.

What Icelanders are doing around their constitutional process is relevant to all of us.

While we see many learning opportunities beyond Iceland in making this process accessible, we also appreciate that its universal lessons must first and foremost be focused inward on a process of change within the country. Build Up is excited to play a small but, we believe, important role in supporting Icelanders efforts to present and preserve their recent history while continuing to reform their constitution for a more just and equitable future.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

  • Essential Partners dialogue
  • Technology of Participation approaches
  • Deliberative Polling
  • Council / Circle process

What was your role in the project?
Creative Director

What issues did the project primarily address?
Human rights

Where to learn more about the project:

Don’t Miss Today’s Confab Call feat Senator Unger!

NCDD is excited for today’s FREE Confab Call featuring West Virginia State Senator John Unger. The one-hour call takes place at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific. It’s going to be a great event – so make sure you register ASAP to secure your spot on the call!

Senator Unger is a major advocate for utilizing dialogue and deliberation to engage with constituents. Some of you may know him from the National Issues Forums Board of Directors, or have heard about his work in West Virginia already!

On this call, he will be sharing his most recent experience with using engagement practices while seeking reelection. He was just reelected this November in a race with a well-funded opponent, and attributes at least in part his willingness to engage with the communities he represents in these ways to his successful campaign.

John Unger has committed his life to being a public servant-leader and bringing together his many experiences in theology and public life. Unger is currently serving as a West Virginia state senator representing Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia. Unger was first elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1998 at the age of 28 – making him one of the youngest elected state senators in West Virginia history. He is currently serving his fifth four-year term and is the Senate Minority Whip. Also, Unger is currently the pastor of the three historic Harpers Ferry Civil War churches: St. John Lutheran Church, Bolivar United Methodist Church, and the priest of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Unger has also done extensive work relating to international humanitarian issues in Asia, India, and the Middle East.

During his Senate tenure, Unger lead to make West Virginia one of the first states in the nation to have universal early childhood education through the West Virginia Early Childhood Education Act. He combated child poverty and hunger with the Feed to Achieve Act. Senator Unger also sponsored the creation of the State Division of Energy, Farmland Protection Act, Water Resource Protection Act, anti-animal cruelty legislation, anti-litter legislation and numerous education bills.

This will be an engaging conversation on a timely topic in our politics. Don’t miss out – register for our call today!

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

Take a Survey on Disciplinary Literacy in Middle and High School!

Friends in civics and social studies, disciplinary literacy is increasingly a significant element of instruction within our field. This new era of literacy, which moves us beyond the traditional Content Area Reading, is one that promises to better prepare our students for the rigors of academic language and a deeper understanding of the content.

In pursuit of understanding how we as educators approach disciplinary literacy in our classrooms, and what kind of support is needed, there is short but rich survey that you can take to contribute to understanding what exists and what needs to exist. Dr. Phil Wilder of (national champion) Clemson and Dr. Kristine Pytash of Kent State would love the assistance of middle and high school teachers in completing their survey and helping us grow as a profession. Please take a look at their request below. This is something that can have a huge impact in exchange for just a few minutes of your time:

Calling all middle and high school teachers!  Teacher expertise about how to best support the literacy of students in content areas is seldom consulted. For research to best support your teaching and students, we desire to understand your perspective.  No identifying information will be collected and the survey only takes approximately 10 minutes. Please click here to complete the survey.  If you would like additional information about this study, please contact kpytash@kent.edu or wilder@clemson.edu.  Thank you for considering.


Online Roundup feat NIFI, MetroQuest, Living Room Conversations, and the Zehr Institute!

As we get into the second week of January, the online events going on in the dialogue, deliberation, and engagement field are starting to ramp up. Below are events happening this week and a preview of some of the ones happening next week. Learn more about the Common Ground for Action deliberative online forums from NCDD member National Issues Forums Institute, and webinars from NCDD member orgs, MetroQuest and Living Room Conversations, and the Zehr Institute.

Do you have a webinar or other event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!

Online Roundup: NIFI, National Civic League and Living Room Conversations

National Issues Forums Institute – January CGA Forum Series: Climate Choices

Tuesday, January 15th
1:30 pm Pacific, 4:30 pm Eastern

Please join us for a Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberative forum on January 15th @4:30pm ET/1:30pm PDT on Climate Choices: How Should We Meet The Challenges of a Warming Planet?

If you’ve never participated in a CGA forum, please watch the “How To Participate” video before joining. You can find the video link here: https://vimeo.com/99290801

If you haven’t had a chance to review the issue guide, you can find a downloadable PDF copy at the NIF website: https://www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/climate-choices

Also, if you’d like to watch the NIFI starter video, you can see it here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/climatechoices/172418880

REGISTER: www.nifi.org/en/events/january-cga-forum-series-climate-choices

Living Room Conversations webinar – Status & Privilege

Tuesday, January 15th
2-3:30 pm Pacific, 5-6:30pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Status & Privilege. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • What are the privileges of your status?
  • What do you value and how is that connected to your status or privilege?
  • How does status, or lack of status, affect your sense of personal dignity? How have you noticed it impacting others?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation. Briscoe T will be hosting.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-status-privilege/

Living Room Conversations webinar – Tribalism 101: Next Door Strangers

Thursday, January 17th
11 am-12:30 pm Pacific, 2-3:30pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Tribalism. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • Name one or more groups you feel at home or strongly identify with (where you find a sense of belonging and/or feel stronger together)
  • What generalizations do you make about other groups? How do you evaluate or check the validity of your generalizations, if at all? How important is it to you that your generalizations are accurate?
  • Some groups come together based on sharing a common culture, vision, or enemy. What is the commonality for your group? What need does your group fulfill in your life?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation. Kathy & Mary will be hosting.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-tribalism-101-next-door-strangers/

Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice – “The Little Book of Racial Healing – A Virtual Book Launch”

Wednesday, January 23rd
1:30pm – 3pm Pacific, 4:30pm – 6pm Eastern
Guest: Jodie Geddes and Tom DeWolf
Host: Johonna Turner

Join authors Jodie Geddes and Thomas Norman DeWolf for this “virtual” book launch. This Little Book will be published by Skyhorse Publishers in January 2019. The authors will share the book’s genesis (hint: the seeds were planted at the RJ in Motion conferenceat Eastern Mennonite University in 2016). With restorative justice and trauma awareness principles at its foundation, Coming to the Table has grown from a gathering of two dozen people at EMU in 2006 to thousands of members across the United States today, including 32 Local Affiliate Groups meeting in communities in 12 different states.

Join the webinar for an engaging conversation of the content of the book, of Coming to the Table, and the high interest across the United States for truth-telling, liberation and transformation.


MetroQuest webinar – “Public Engagement at All Scales | CMAP’s Winning Recipe”

Wednesday, January 30th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (APA AICP CM)
Complimentary (FREE)

For the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, award-winning comprehensive plans involve public engagement at all scales, collaboration with 284 communities, and a Local Technical Assistance program that’s admired nationally. Join us January 30th to get inspired!

CMAP Deputy Executive Director of Planning Stephane Phifer, Associate Outreach Planner Katanya Raby, and Senior Planner Lindsay Bayley will take you inside their local approach to online engagement for OnTo2050 – their comprehensive regional plan to improve quality of life and economic prosperity for 8.5 million people.

Public feedback was essential to exploring alternative futures for innovative transportation, climate change, walkable communities, a transformed economy, and constrained resources. You’ll learn how CMAP used a multi-phased approach to online engagement for a variety of local plans, including the downtown Aurora Master Plan.

Attend this complimentary 1-hour webinar to explore effective ways to:

  • Engage inclusively to build inclusive plans
  • Uncover the ideas, hopes, and concerns of residents
  • Take a multi-phase approach to online engagement
  • Think both locally and regionally for collaborative planning

This webinar will include a live Q&A session to help you prepare for 2019. Bring your public engagement questions for Stephane, Katanya, Lindsay, and Dave Biggs, Chief Engagement Officer at MetroQuest.

REGISTER: http://go.metroquest.com/Public-Engagement-at-All-Scales-CMAPs-Winning-Recipe.html

International Society for the Social Studies Annual Conference!


The International Society for Social Studies Annual Conference is coming soon, but there is still time to submit your proposal (but get it in SOON)! This two day conference will take place on the campus of the University of Central Florida on 21 and 22 February, 2019. Your humble bloghost has both presented at and attended sessions at this conference in the past (and will be presenting again this year!), and it is an excellent networking opportunity for both K-12 educators and those folks in the social studies teacher education field as well as national and international policy. Learn about social studies in this country and beyond our borders from experts that represent a huge cross section of social studies education.

With scholarly presentations and practical teaching workshops on various social studies related topics from prominent experts, the ISSS conference provides a platform for all educators to engage in rich dialogue about the social studies. For university faculty, teacher educators, curriculum specialists, social studies department leaders, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as P-12 teachers, the conference features presentations that appeal to all. The ISSS conference has featured speakers from across the United States as well as across the world including Turkey, Portugal, Canada, India, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, China, Nigeria, and a host of other countries.

You can register for the conference here, and again, submit your proposal as soon as you can. Share your work and ideas with passionate social studies educators from across the country and the world!

If there you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the great folks over at the society at isss@ucf.edu. 

unveiling a systems map for k-12 civic education

This is a systems map for k-12 civic education, developed for the CivXNow coalition and intended to guide the coalition and its members and allies. You can explore it here and also drill down to a more complex underlying map here.

[Suggested citation: Peter Levine, Louise Dubé, and Sarah Shugars, “Civic Education Systems Map,” Medford, MA: Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life/CivXNow Coalition, 2018]

Why use systems-mapping to analyze an issue and guide a coalition?

Any coalition needs a strategy, and it must be …

  1. Sufficiently complex for the issue: There is rarely one root cause or one leverage point. Many factors matter, and some outcomes are also inputs or causes.
  2. Supported by the grassroots, not just organizational leaders: Members of the coalition’s organizations must support the plan and believe that people like them had a voice. It can’t just be designed by the apex leaders.
  3. Broadly engaging: There must be roles for many different kinds of organizations and people to play. It can’t be limited to levers that only a few groups can pull.
  4. Widely supported: It must win a degree of consensus. Majority support isn’t good enough. If substantial portions of the coalition disagree with the plan, they will peel away. They may not quit or complain, but they will refrain from actively supporting the coalition.

… but also …

  1. Coherent and concise: The plan can’t just be a list of what everyone already favors.

Traditional methods for accomplishing these goals included electing a steering committee who would draft a document and ask for a vote of organizations or their representatives. These methods never worked all that well and they seem obsolete now.

Building on network science, 100Kin10’s approach to mapping the Grand Challenges of the STEM teacher shortage, and other experiments (like those of the Democracy Fund), we invited more than 7,500 people to co-produce this system map for k-12 civic education. I believe the result meets the five criteria listed above.

Importantly, people were not asked to rank issues by importance or to vote on priorities. Instead, they were asked very specific analytical questions based on their experience of the world around them. From their answers, we derived a systems map that suggests high leverage points.

Although we originally asked about civic education in an open-ended way, it’s clear that most respondents were focused on the k-12 age range and on schools as venues. This means that the map is not about youth civic engagement in communities and social movements; the formal political system (voting rights, gerrymandering, campaigns); news and social media; higher education; or education beyond civics (e.g., who attends what kinds of schools).

I regard this focus as a strength. K-12 civics is a system that relates to other systems. Mapping everything is impossible and a distracting ideal. If your own focus is a neighbor of k-12 civics–say, youth organizing, or engagement in higher education–then this map may help you see how to connect to k-12 civics.

How to read the map

The circles or nodes represent circumstances that we should work to accomplish. You could think of them as goals. An arrow connects two circles if improving the first would help improve the second. Larger nodes have more connections. Larger arrows suggest that the causal connections are stronger or clearer. Click on any node to read more about it. Hover over any node or arrow to see its immediate neighbors.

Each node combines more specific components, and those are displayed on the more complex map.

The whole point of a systems map is to avoid a simple distinction between inputs and outputs, causes and effects. Effects tend to influence causes. However, it would be reasonable to read the main map as basically flowing downward from the key leverage points, via intermediaries, to the widely-shared goals of youth civic knowledge and youth civic engagement.

Findings and how to use the map

The components that are furthest upstream and may have the most influence–without themselves being influenced by many factors shown on the map–include the public’s commitment to civics and schools’ embrace of their civic missions, the degree to which civics is relevant and engaging, and policies at the state and federal level that require and/or assess civics.

Factors that are midstream–being affected by other factors and directly boosting youth outcomes–include professional development, engaging pedagogy, inclusion of current and contentious issues, and funding specifically for civics.

Some factors are shown as not highly connected to the rest of the network–notably, “Civics is taught well in a context of political polarization and bias” and “Civic life is healthy.” This does not mean that these factors are unimportant. You could reasonably think that they are essential. The map suggests that they don’t have a lot of leverage over other factors. For instance, navigating bias may be essential, but the map suggests that it doesn’t lead to more funding, or assessments, or better materials.

A use case: A colleague noted that his state has chosen civically engaged youth as its goal. The portion of the map shown below presents a subsystem of relevance to him and his colleagues. It suggests that it’s essential for schools to make civic education more of a priority. One (but only one) reason is that schools and systems that care more about civics will allocate more funding specifically for it. There are relationships among youth knowledge of civics, youth civic engagement, and civics that addresses current controversies. In other words, kids learn content and are energized if they address current issues in school. It’s also important that schools be effective and fair institutions, although that may feel beyond the control of the civics field.

If our colleague wants to know how to encourage schools in his state to embrace their civic mission, he could click on that node (at the top of this illustration) to see its causes in turn.

More generally, the map can be used for:

  • Insight: Perhaps it was not already evident that these factors relate in this way. The map may offer insight.
  • Diagnosis: The map poses diagnostic questions. How strongly do the schools in your community embrace their civic missions? To what extent do students discuss contested current issues? Do these factors improve as a result of your efforts?
  • Support: No self-appointed committee decided that these factors are related in the ways shown above. The diagram emerged from more than 7,500 people’s careful assessments of specific empirical questions. That is a basis for advising relevant decision-makers on how to act.

What if you disagree?

I find myself broadly in sync with this diagram. But what if you don’t see the ideas or connections that matter most to you on the map?

  1. It’s worth zooming to the more complex map to see if they are there. On that detailed map, you can click buttons to identify all the factors that may be especially relevant if you have a particular take on civic education, such as Action Civics, a social justice orientation, a concern for civil discourse in and out of schools, or a focus on original texts and US history. (Note that these emphases are not mutually exclusive–I happen to endorse them all.) The ideas on the simpler main map are relatively content-neutral, and debates about content appear when you zoom in closer. I think that is appropriate. For instance, if we provide professional development (PD) for civics, then we can discuss what teachers should learn. There will be some healthy debates about that question, as well as some consensus and some room for pluralism and individual choice. But if very little PD is available for civics, then the debate about content is a bit empty. Thus PD goes on the main map, and what teachers should learn is explored on the more detailed map.
  2. Your focus might be on a different “system,” such as electoral politics or higher ed. Then the disclaimer about our focus on k-12 schools applies.
  3. You may be right, and the bulk of the 7,500 respondents may be wrong. In that case, the data suggest that you have some persuasion to do, and maybe you should build or publicize a pilot or demonstration program that supports your point. One definition of social entrepreneurship is filling perceived gaps in existing systems. Social entrepreneurship begins by analyzing mainstream views of an existing system (as our map does), identifying gaps, and addressing them.

The method

We first fielded a survey to identify possible causal factors. We recruited 6,495 respondents through a variety of networks. Twenty-one percent of the respondents were k-12 civics teachers; nine percent worked for organizations that address civics; five percent were current k-12 students; two percent were adult civic educators who don’t work in K-12 classrooms; and the sample also included people with many other relationships to civics, including parents who are not teachers, academic experts, funders, and policymakers.

The sample was not demographically representative of youth. Even compared to adult Americans, it tilted whiter (79%) and older (mean age 47)–as do classroom teachers. I acknowledge this as a limitation, but I would add that we never counted the number of votes for any particular idea. We used this survey to brainstorm issues, and it didn’t matter how many people named any given issue. Therefore, the most important question is whether there were significant numbers of young people and people of color to get their issues on the agenda. In fact, 289 people were under age 18, 230 were African American, 262 were Latinx, 122 were Asian, and 78 were Native American.

We used a modified version of the 5 Whys method, first developed by Toyota’s engineers. A core question on our survey was, “Do you think that we provide good enough civic education in the USA today?”

Thirteen percent believed that civics is satisfactory as it is, and they were asked to elaborate. The rest thought that we do not provide adequate civics. They were asked why not: “Now we ask you to think about an underlying cause of that problem. What is an important reason that civics needs improvement?” They gave open-ended responses to that question. Then each respondent was shown his or her own answer and asked to explain that problem. “Now we’d like you to go even deeper. Why is this? Why do you think this happens?” We continued this process until we had more than 12,600 open-ended ideas about the causes of inadequate civics, including 2,800 responses that were five layers “deep.”

As people went deeper, they often began to cite very broad, possibly intractable problems, such as public apathy or an unresponsive political system. Some mentioned political polarization, but more named the left or the right as a harmful influence. The 5 Whys focuses on problems, and pushing respondents four or five levels deep tended to uncover a fair amount of frustration and polarization.

Our next task was to turn these 12,600 responses (including very few precise duplicates) into a much smaller set of factors that would capture the diversity of respondents’ views. Furthermore, we wanted to turn problem statements into levers for positive change. Instead of a list of problems, we wanted a list of specific goals that a coalition could work on.

For example, these are actual statements from the first survey (and there were many more like them):

  • “STEM is seen as more important”
  • “There is such an emphasis on testing, science and math, that civics is not emphasized enough.”
  • “Emphasis on science & math leads to cuts in time for other subjects.”
  • “In overemphasizing STEM, we have neglected all the arts (including history and civics).”

We translated all of these ideas into one phrase that summarizes a possible goal: “the number of people who view social studies as just as important as STEM increases.” We also wrote a second goal statement that captured related ideas: “the proportion of adults who believe that stem and civics can go together increases.”

To reduce the full list of 12,600 problem statements to 75 such goal statements, we used a combination of Natural Language Processing (which automatically puts text into clusters) and human coding and judgment. We omitted no original response because we disagreed with it or deemed it beyond the scope of our coalition. For example, someone wrote, “Civic education in most colleges and universities have socialist and marxist educators that use their time to indoctrinate and they do not educate.” Someone else wrote, “Since No Child Left Behind (created by George W. Bush to help his brother Neil’s testing industry biz) our politicians have seen education funding as an opportunity to make money.” We collapsed these comments, and many more like them, into two goals for consideration: “right-wing influence on civics decreases” and “left-wing influence on civics decreases.”

Then we fielded a second survey, drawing mostly on the same respondents. In this survey, respondents were shown 15 pairs of randomly selected possible goals, one pair at time. For each pair, they were asked (in effect) whether A causes B to increase, whether A causes B to decrease, and whether causing B to increase would be a good thing or not. Here is an example of an actual item:

I chose A, but that is a matter of judgment. I could see an argument for C, or even a tenuous case for B or D. If such questions had obvious answers, we wouldn’t need a collaborative process. Our method is to ask multiple people to share their best judgment about pairings like this one, based on their own experience.

If 75 factors can be linked to one another in either direction (A causes B and/or B causes A), there are 10,100 possible links. We recruited 1,825 people to take this survey (of whom 1,057 had also taken the first one). Each pair of nodes was reviewed at least three times and sometimes more than ten times. Once a link had been reviewed many times, we deleted it from the survey to channel responses to the pairs that had been randomly overlooked so far.

We treated a possible link as actual if 90% of the raters or at least 9 raters considered it a positive causal link. About 80% of the possible edges had some support as real causal connections; and 18% reached the 90% threshold. This produced a map that is too complex to guide action, although it’s perhaps an accurate reflection of the actual topic. It is the map shown here.

To simplify it, we clustered the 75 nodes conceptually. Two raters compared schemata and resolved differences to produce 14 nodes for the main map. We also asked 12 representatives of state education agencies gathered at a meeting to make their own clusterings and used their ideas to inform us. The best measure of inter-rater reliability when you have many raters and open-ended codes is Krippendorff’s alpha, which was fairly low, but that appears to be because many of the state representatives did not get around to categorizing most of the 75 ideas at all. There is certainly some subjectivity involved in our clustering, but we are transparent about the components of each cluster.

The maps also indicate which ideas were controversial, in the sense that some people thought these outcomes would be bad. The rate of controversy was never high–usually under 5%. However, this may be an underestimate, because if raters saw no causal link at all between two nodes, they couldn’t indicate that either of the nodes was bad.