Wednesday Webinar Roundup on Dialogue & Deliberation!

If you are looking to strengthen some skills and/or have a little extra D&D goodness for the summer months, then check out this fantastic line-up of webinars coming up from the NCDD network. We encourage you to check out these events from NCDD sponsor The Courageous Leadership Project, NCDD member orgs Living Room Conversations and National Civic League, as well as, from the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and International Associate for Public Participation (IAP2).

NCDD’s online D&D event roundup is a weekly compilation of the upcoming events happening in the digital world related to dialogue, deliberation, civic tech, engagement work, and more! Do you have a webinar or other digital 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!

Upcoming Online D&D Events: Living Room Conversations, IAF, IAP2, The Courageous Leadership Project, National Civic League

Online Living Room Conversation: Entertainment & The Media – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Thursday, August 1st
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

The role and impact of our larger entertainment and media system has long been a source of lively discussion in America. Since the advent of the radio, then television, then cable, now internet — there have always been groups of people asking questions about what these advances in technology will mean for US life and what, if any, cautions or guidelines should be embraced to ensure their productive use. How do we consume entertainment? And what is the impact that we experience personally or in the community? What are your perspectives on entertainment and media issues? Here is the conversation guide.


International Association of Facilitators webinar – An introductory “depth-dive” webinar for Facilitators

Saturday, August 4th
1 am Pacific, 4 am Eastern

This webinar is a taster of relevance to Facilitators who desire to stretch and really engage with deeper human aspects of people, groups and their empowerment – in the service of an enriched Facilitation journey.


Living Room Conversations Training (free): The Nuts & Bolts of Living Room Conversations

Thursday, August 8th
2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern

Join us for 90 minutes online to learn about Living Room Conversations. We’ll cover what a Living Room Conversation is, why we have them, and everything you need to know to get started hosting and/or participating in Living Room Conversations. This training is not required for participating in our conversations – we simply offer it for people who want to learn more about the Living Room Conversations practice.

Space is limited to 12 people so that we can offer a more interactive experience. Please only RSVP if you are 100% certain that you can attend. This training will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. A link to join the conversation will be sent to participants by the Wednesday before this training.


Online Living Room Conversation: Mental Health – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Thursday, August 8th
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

Most people agree that we want to reduce the stigma around mental health issues so that individuals and families are more inclined to seek help. Many people look to traditional western medicine for the primary answers to mental health problems. There is growing interest in exploring a wider variety of ways to support people facing mental health challenges. The value of meditation, exercise and other practices show great promise as we learn more and more about the plasticity of our brains. What does it mean to ‘get better’ from a mental health problems, and is it even possible? Here is the conversation guide.


IAP2 Monthly Webinar: Victoria Encore – “Navigating The Culture Wars Through Thoughtful P2”

Tuesday, August 13th
11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern

Once again, we’re excited to present one of the session presentations at the 2018 IAP2 North American Conference, that attendees told us would make a good Learning Webinar. In this, John Godec MCP3, Debra Duerr and Wendy Green-Lowe CP3 of The Participation Company, and Doug Sarno MCP3 of Forum Facilitation Group discuss delving into understanding of human behavior, the battle for control, and toxic participants and how we approach these issues as P2 practitioners.

It’s never been easy, but to be successful these days, we need to adjust to a hyper political and partisan environment. This session will explore the key battles we face in designing and conducting successful participation. We’ll discuss creating a level playing field, creating trust and facilitating success: what are the obstacles, and what are our “big guns”?


International Association of Facilitators webinar – What facilitators can do in disaster situations? (Espanyol)

Thursday, August 15th
3 pm Pacific, 6 pm Eastern

No description provided.


Online Living Room Conversation: Righteousness and Relationships – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Thursday, August 15th
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

Racist, sexist, homophobe, even nazi: these words have lost their power for many conservatives. They don’t believe that these words describe them. They experience this as name-calling – part of an ongoing effort to undermine people on the right who have different values. Latte drinking liberal, femi-nazi, elitist: these are a few of the words that are used to dismiss people on the left. So now we are caught in a culture war where we are all losing. Losing friends, losing family, losing the ability to solve problems in a way that respects and honors the needs of everyone affected. How do we change this dynamic? Is there a way for us to tap into the kindness and goodwill that we’ve seen in friends across the political spectrum? Here is the conversation guide.


The Courageous Leadership Project webinar – Brave, Honest Conversations™

Wednesday, August 21st
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Some conversations are hard to have. Fear and discomfort build in your body and you avoid and procrastinate or pretend everything is fine. Sometimes you rush in with urgency, wanting to smooth things over, fix them, and make them better. Sometimes you go to battle stations, positioning the conversation so you have a higher chance of being on the “winning” side. NONE OF THIS WORKS. Instead, it usually makes a hard conversation harder; more divided, polarized, and disconnected from others. The more people involved, the harder the conversation can be. I believe that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems we face in our world – together.

In this webinar, we will cover: What is a Brave, Honest Conversation™? Why have one? What can change because of a brave, honest conversation? How do you have one? What do you need to think about and do? How do you prepare yourself for a brave, honest conversation?


National Civic League AAC Promising Practices Webinar – Improving Health and Fitness through Inclusive Community Challenges

Wednesday, August 28th
11:30 am Pacific, 2:30 pm Eastern

Join the National Civic League to learn how two of our 2019 All-America Cities are using community recreation challenges to improve health & fitness. Battle Creek, MI will tell us about Operation Fit, which is a healthy community initiative of Bronson Battle Creek, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Regional Health Alliance, and the Battle Creek Family YMCA. The goal of Operation Fit is to decrease childhood obesity in Calhoun County.


forecasting the UK parliamentary elections

The celestial bodies have aligned to put British politics in that rare situation: a first-past-the-post electoral system with multiple viable parties.

Usually, when a legislature consists of the top vote-getters in all the districts, it evolves (or degenerates?) into a two-party system, because supporters of any other party worry that their votes would be “wasted.” However, due to the turmoil of Brexit, plus the strength of regional parties, several parties will be competitive in the next UK election if it happens soon.

That makes the result extraordinarily difficult to predict. In theory, a party with well under 50% support could come in first in more than half the constituencies and dominate the Commons. You can’t tell how any party will perform just by examining national polls, because it depends on where its votes are concentrated. Britain could have the most socialist government since 1979, the most Thatcherite government since 1990, the first English-nationalist party in its history, or the first Liberal-led parliament since 1922, all depending on the quasi-random question of where the votes lie.

I cannot assess Max Baxter’s Electoral Calculus site, but I don’t see an alternative, and it seems sophisticated. The change that he finds over recent months certainly seems plausible.

In May, many divergent outcomes had fairly similar probabilities. The most likely outcome was a Brexit Party majority, but that was less than a 4-1 bet. The combined odds of either a Labour government or a Labour/Liberal coalition were a bit higher, at 23%.

(“Nat” refers to the Scottish Nationalists plus Plaid Cymru from Wales)

Since then, Brexit voters have shifted to the Tories because Boris Johnson is now the PM. That makes a Conservative government considerably more likely and almost wipes out the chance of a Brexit Party government. (Why vote for them when you can have Boris?) Since the Brexit Party was the most likely to form a government in May, the Tory leadership contest has been very consequential. Here are the current odds, again per Max Baxter:

In national polls, the Tories lead Labour by only about 4-5 percentage points and don’t reach 30% support. But they could still capture a majority of seats in a four-way contest.

I think Boris Johnson faces a bit of a dilemma. If he calls a snap election, he has a 31% chance of being able to govern without any coalition partners, an attractive option considering that 60% of voters are against him. He also has a 52% chance of being able to form some kind of government, with or without partners. To maximize his odds, he must continue to take all the votes away from the Brexit Party, which means a hard-line stance on Europe.

On the other hand, he already leads a government, and if he calls a snap election, he faces about a 48% chance of losing control to the opposition. That makes an election a pretty big risk, a coin-toss. But if he steams ahead with the current parliament, I can only see things getting much, much worse as Brexit hits. A 51% chance of forming a new government now is better than his likely odds any time after October.

On that basis, I think he will call an election and not budge an inch on Brexit until it’s over.

Funder Collaborative Civic Science Fellowship Announced

Last week we shared this great paid fellowship opportunity on our Making-A-Living listserv and we wanted to also lift it up here to tap the larger civic engagement network! The 12-month fellowship will seek to “catalyze widespread engagement with science and its societal implication” and “lead the development of a shared vision and strategy for future collaborative work among funders in the civic science space”. Location of the fellowship has the potential to be flexible and applications are due Thursday, August 15th. Learn more in the post below and find the original on the Rita Allen Foundation site here.

Position Announcement: Funder Collaborative Civic Science Fellow

To catalyze widespread engagement with science and its societal implications, funders invite applicants for a Civic Science Fellowship.


A collaboration of funders with a shared interest in the relationship between science and society invite applicants for a Funder Collaborative Civic Science Fellow. The Fellow will work for 12 months to advance emerging collaborative work among relevant programs at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, The Kavli Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation. The Fellow will be part of the inaugural class of Civic Science Fellows, which aims to build the capacity of emerging leaders, networks, and institutions working to meaningfully connect science and society in a time of rapid change.

Vision, Opportunity, and Background

The need for a more robust, mutual, and equitable relationship between science and society has never been more urgent. Individuals, communities, and our global population face accelerating and increasingly complicated challenges. Rapidly evolving, highly complex science contributes to these challenges and holds the promise of shaping solutions—gene editing, artificial intelligence, and ocean conservation are just a few examples of acutely relevant, socially charged, and potentially transformative areas of research. The research community must understand and respond to the societal context in which it exists if it is to remain a relevant and robust element of society. Charting the course for this science in democratic societies requires not only technical scientific answers, but also deep engagement with issues including ethics, community values and needs, economics, and public health.

The funders in the collaborative are brought together by a shared vision, one that we bring in our efforts to serve science communication, public engagement, science, and the public broadly. We believe science is one of our most important tools for developing knowledge about ourselves and understanding the world around us; however, it has become increasingly viewed as separate from society. Many science engagement efforts seek to focus on specific effects of this disconnect (e.g., threats to federal funding for basic science). We, with our partners in the field, have begun to explore what might be the primary causes of the problem, and the opportunities they present: to form new connections and collaborations that can fuel more meaningful, inclusive integration of science in society.

This shared understanding of the opportunity space has served as a catalyst for an emerging funder collaborative. We are in the position to build bridges and leverage different expertise and resources across sectors, from our organizations and others, in order to more effectively serve the scientific ecosystem as well as diverse communities affected by scientific discovery and application. A process of shared learning and exploration can accelerate our common understanding of approaches and techniques to effectively address the roots of the disconnect between science and society, as well as help us identify areas of shared collaboration or coordination for greater impact in supporting those leading, innovating, and working at this interface.

The initial cohort of Science in Society Collaborative members are philanthropies, each with individual missions and focus, but with substantial overlap in how we approach science engagement. We all support efforts that promote science as a way of knowing. We all believe that a lack of adequate knowledge about science within communities is not sufficient to explain the growing communication gap between scientists and society. We all recognize the need to diversify who is engaged in the scientific conversation. We all recognize that the field would benefit from evidence-based approaches and methodically developed best practices. And critically, we all agree that effective work in this field requires listening to and understanding specific communities and audiences in order to effectively engage with them.

The Position

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, The Kavli Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation seek a Civic Science fellow who, through a 12-month fellowship, will help explore a common vision and identify paths forward for collaborative action and impact. We see an opportunity to coordinate our efforts; learn from each other; learn from grantees, partners, and diverse communities; and break down silos or jargon that may separate us. The Fellow will join a group who shares a commitment to increasing diversity in our own work and field, integrating justice and equity into the work we do, and ensuring an inclusive culture.

The Civic Science Fellow will initially work with the six foundations listed above to advance a shared vision, help each foundation learn about our peers’ specific goals and objectives related to this shared vision, and develop a strategy for moving forward on collaborations to reach our shared goals, serve diverse audiences, and catalyze more effective engagement with science. The Fellow will:

  • Lead the development of a shared vision and strategy for future collaborative work among funders in the civic science space. This may take the shape, for example, of a shared blueprint—a strategic document outlining shared objectives and goals, a common theory of change, and an articulation of what success will look like, across multiple communities and objectives.
    • Embed, or meaningfully connect with, each partner foundation to develop a more nuanced understanding of goals, trends, and theories of change.
    • Connect with the field, communities of public engagement research and practice, and communities underserved by existing science communication efforts to allow their goals, objectives, and efforts to inform the blueprint.
    • Facilitate and incorporate ongoing feedback from foundation partners. Share progress and insights on the blueprint development.
    • Apply learnings from embedded experience and other resources to inform potential collective structures and approaches that foundation partners could use to advance field.
    • Develop and present a set of recommendations (including, but not limited to, scope, sequencing, resourcing, and risks) detailing how the collaborative can work together to develop joint programming, co-invest, and share learnings, drawing on a growing body of related social scientific research, crossing disciplinary boundaries when helpful, and maintaining focus on benefiting and including diverse communities.
    • Identify areas of prospective collaboration with other foundations active in work related to civic science, or interested in contributing to and applying best practices.
  • Incorporate an approach for assessing the feasibility of ways forward described in the blueprint, as well as methods for ensuring ongoing shared learning from our collective efforts.
  • Recommend necessary inputs and key milestones/timing to meet blueprint goals.

We believe the opportunity to experience each Foundation’s culture and processes will be an asset in the Fellow’s success to coordinate and support the collaborative. The Kavli Foundation, based in Los Angeles, CA, and/or the Rita Allen Foundation in Princeton, NJ, will provide the primary post for the Fellow. We expect the Fellow will spend meaningful time embedded with each foundation partner. We are willing to discuss potential variations of this location and approach with the Fellow, as long as it prioritizes meaningful time with each foundation.

The Civic Science Fellow will be part of the inaugural class of Civic Science Fellows—individuals housed at various institutions to advance a myriad of ways people and science connect. These fellows will attend one annual convening and participate in regular monthly meetings to share learnings from their different embedded perspectives.

The Fellow will report to, and be guided by, an advisory group composed of representatives from foundation partners.

Skills and Attributes

  • 5+ years experience in science communication, public engagement with science, informal science education, learning, collective action, or related fields.
  • Experience in crafting strategic, forward-looking plans and reports.
  • Experience in program or project management.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  • Shares our commitment to increasing racial diversity in the science communication landscape, integrating justice and equity into the work we do, and ensuring an inclusive organizational culture.
  • Familiarity with philanthropy.
  • Ability and flexibility to travel, primarily in the United States.
  • Have initiative, be entrepreneurial, and think strategically and long-term.

To Apply

Send a cover letter describing your interest in this position, a resume or CV, and a work or writing sample reflecting analysis of themes and opportunities, to Applications received by August 15, 2019, will be given priority.

The salary for this full-time, 12-month position is $80K plus benefits.

We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds. The Rita Allen Foundation is committed to a policy of Equal Employment Opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation or expression, gender, marital status, age, physical or mental disability, military status, genetic information or any other protected characteristic as established under law. All individuals are welcomed and encouraged to apply.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Rita Allen Foundation site at

the oscillation between dictatorship and parliamentary institutions (a game theory model)

Abstract: Sometimes despots have incentives to convene representative bodies that govern with them. And sometimes the leaders of republics have incentives to rule unilaterally. Changes in the incentives explain the oscillation between authoritarianism and republicanism. Today’s incentives are pushing in the wrong direction.

Imagine that a leader (a king, tyrant, dictator, general) possesses the only effective, loyal, well equipped military force in an area. That person—Mancur Olson called him a “stationary bandit”—can use the threat of violence to extract money from the population to pay for and motivate the army plus a bureaucracy that identifies, counts, and organizes the society’s wealth.

It may help if the ruler has some perceived legitimacy (an anointed monarch instead of a usurper or dictator, for example) and offers benefits to the people, such as safety from foreign enemies. Those factors may reduce dissatisfaction that can breed resistance. But the main pattern is a monopoly of power that serves to extract resources to fund the power itself. This situation can be self-reinforcing.

But how to get to that situation if you don’t start with a loyal and effective army and bureaucracy? And how to get back to that situation if you lose it due to defections or diffuse resistance?

One way is to convene many of the leaders of the society who already have the capacity to collect resources: nobles or other great landlords who are succeeding at extracting rents, senior clergy who collect tithes or control endowments, and municipal leaders who represent commercial interests. These people can agree to generate the resources to pay for the state if they see advantages for themselves. Someone with a claim to leadership (say, a king) can convene them, negotiate with them, and end up as a ruler who shares power.

This is a way for parliamentary institutions to emerge from despotism, as they did across Europe in the middle ages. A medieval parliament almost always represented the nobility, the church, and the towns in separate houses or estates.

Now let’s say that the system is rolling along, and the monarch actually has a well-equipped, loyal military force and a bureaucracy funded by taxes. It becomes possible for that monarch to dismiss the parliament and use the state to extract taxes, rents, military service, and labor by force, perhaps legitimized by some theory of divine right.

This is a way for parliamentary government to shift into monarchical absolutism, as occurred in many European countries around the 17th century (plus or minus).

But let’s say the king gets into debt, or faces insubordination, or is attacked by a powerful foreign threat, or simply sees low levels of compliance. He may need to call a parliament again so that key stakeholders can voluntarily agree to coordinate their efforts to raise money. And if the parliament can organize itself effectively, it can threaten the monarch’s power and even his safety.

This is how the English parliament gained the authority, after 1688, to make all laws. The monarch still embodied the executive branch and could make many discretionary decisions of a broadly managerial type. Since that was too big a job for any individual to do alone, monarchs governed through ministers, often holders of offices that dated back to the middle ages.

Technically, the monarch could place anyone in these offices and could intervene in any issue directly by proclamation. However, since the power of the purse had shifted to parliament (and money can buy an army), the monarch was vulnerable. Charles I has lost his head; James II, his throne. Many subsequent British monarchs preferred to govern through ministers supported by parliament. And once parliament had divided into parties, this meant selecting ministers acceptable to the majority party. George I even discovered that it was convenient to make the leader of the majority–the Whig MP Robert Walpole—an effective chief minister who would chair a cabinet that he (Walpole) chose. Walpole served in this role for 20 years, resigning only when he no longer led a majority in the House of Commons.

In this way, parliamentary cabinet government and the office that we now know as the Prime Minister evolved from the underlying situation. The premiership was not created, like the US presidency, when a person or group conceived the idea and wrote it down in a constitution or law. It emerged from Walpole’s experience serving the King with the Commons’ support. But one could explain both the British premiership and the US presidency as a result of the same underlying needs.

Some subsequent monarchs pushed back by naming ministers of their own choice who lacked parliamentary support. There was not always a prime minister all. In 1783, the politician Charles James Fox reacted to the prospect that George III might name a prime minister without the confidence of parliament:

[If] a change must take place, and a new ministry is to be formed and supported, not by the confidence of this House or the public, but the sole authority of the Crown, I, for one, should not envy that hon. gentleman his situation. From that moment I put in my claim for a monopoly of Whig principles.

The last sentence simply means that Fox would seek to legislate a requirement that the cabinet receive parliamentary support. But the first sentence is more interesting. A prime minister who couldn’t win a majority in the House would stand in an unenviable situation even if he continued to serve, because he could not govern effectively without the parliament behind him.

Meanwhile, the governments of the Netherlands and England (at least) had learned that they did not have to rely solely on taxes, rents, and loans from bankers. They could also borrow from their own people, who would voluntarily buy state securities as long as they trusted the government to spend the money in what they considered the public interest. The middle class gained that confidence because they dominated the parliaments of these countries (versus the weakened nobility and the disenfranchised poor). As a result, these countries could raise huge sums and field substantial navies and armies, which, in turn, created economic benefits for the middle classes.

As a result, governments with parliaments became far more powerful on the international stage than absolute monarchies. Republican France could field an army of 1.5 million based on taxation, conscription, and bond sales. Although Napoleon overstepped, France threatened to dominate all of Europe. Absolutism recurred after 1815 and held on in places like Russia a lot longer, but it was the long-term loser in the Darwinian struggle for fitness among nations.

In this way, republican forms of government tended to prevail, except that the vast systems of state power that republics underwrote could also break free of parliamentary oversight. I don’t think that Germany could have built a massive state apparatus between 1871 and 1932 without a Reichstag to represent the public and make taxation and conscription reasonably popular. But once that apparatus existed and Hitler controlled it, he could dismiss the parliament and rule by fear. The story was perhaps a bit different in the USSR and China, both of which had long traditions of monarchical despotism and only brief parliamentary rule before their communist dictatorships. But all twentieth-century authoritarianism echoed baroque-era absolutism (with a larger dose of terror).

Then, around 1989, most of the authoritarian regimes crumbled in the face of republican popular movements. I think this was simply a recurrence of the despot’s traditional vulnerability, his need for widespread compliance. Authoritarian regimes sagged under the weight of corruption, stagnation, and obsolescence and couldn’t draw on their publics for resources—money, talent, or enthusiasm–to fix their problems. The reasons for the original rise of parliamentary government recurred.

The problem now is that the cost of dominating a population and extracting resources from the people has fallen. You don’t need a vast conscript army if you have drones and cruise missiles. You don’t need an army of bureaucrats if you can scrape data from electronic records. If you have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within your territory, you can rule with just a few supporters.

William the Conqueror destroyed the Anglo-Saxon elite and governed England (with a population of at least 1.1 million) with about 8,000 men. Thanks to his victory on the battlefield and the dread power of knights, he was not forced to share authority but could keep 8,000 people behind them by distributing plunder. That is an example of a single leader possessing the resources to dominate, much as modern authoritarian states do. William’s descendants saw that advantage slip away and were forced to convene parliaments–but the road to democracy was long and slow.

Dewey was wrong that “the current has set steadily in one direction: toward democratic forms.” Instead democracy and despotism have oscillated, depending, in part, on how easy and affordable it is for a small number of people to dominate the population. Unfortunately, domination has lately grown cheaper and more effective.

See also: Dewey and the current toward democracy; why post-modern nation states do not need mass support; why autocrats are winning (right now); Dubai, Uganda, and today’s global political economy; and what does it mean to say democracy is in retreat?

less than a penny a year for grassroots civic organizing

(DC) The Foundation Center’s database and analytic website entitled Foundation Funding for US Democracy is full of interesting information and worth detailed exploration.

Drawing on tax forms, the site categorizes $5.5 billion in grants made to strengthen democracy in the USA since 2011.

The ideological range is wide: the DeVos and Mercer foundations are in the database, along with Open Society and many more.

This is the distribution of grants by very broad categories, with a somewhat more detailed look at the pie slice devoted to “civic participation” (which interests me most).

My graphs based on Foundation Center data

I estimate that $1.73 billion of the $5.5 billion (31%) has gone to nonprofits headquartered in DC or the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia. With some exceptions, these are professional organizations without a grassroots membership base.

Within the category of “civic participation,” $2.1 billion has been distributed for the following purposes. These categories are non-exclusive; a grant can serve more than one purpose.

A total of $23 million–.0.43% of all democracy funding and a little less than one cent per American per year–has been spent on grassroots organizing for civic participation. I think that marks a major deficit.

new opening: Service Year Program Administrator at Tisch College

This is a one-year limited-term position.

There are currently about 67,000 annual positions for young Americans who choose to conduct service for a whole year. These positions are supported by national programs like AmeriCorps (such as Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, YouthBuild, and City Year), Peace Corps, and the Commonwealth Corps in Massachusetts, and by many other organizations, including Tufts University’s 1+4 Bridge Year program, which offers credit and financial aid for a year of service before Tufts. Americans serve at many ages (from pre-college to retirement) and in many settings, from their own communities to countries around the world. 

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life seeks to hire an administrator to expand the prevalence and visibility of service years in Massachusetts. Service Year Alliance and Tisch College are partnering to support this role. The Administrator will also be expected to collaborate with stakeholders in Massachusetts, particularly the Massachusetts Service Alliance. The Administrator will be expected to consult closely with Service Year Alliance and the Massachusetts Service Alliance and to engage other stakeholders across the Commonwealth. Sectors that the organizer may engage include k-12 education, higher education, local and state governments, nonprofits, and private sector employers. The administrator will assess opportunities to sustain and build in based work in East Boston and/or other geographical communities in Massachusetts. Provides specialized, subject matter knowledge to develop, implement, review and evaluate a university Program or Project in collaboration with Manager or Director. May participate in development of goals and strategies; creates data management and filing systems; develops, analyzes and monitors budgets, grants and contracts; and participates in development and implements marketing and advertising efforts including writing content for website and social media material. May design and represent program externally at conferences, meetings and events. 

Basic Requirements:

  • 1-3 years of service experience.
  • Experience with organizing and network-building.
  • Knowledge, skills and experience typically acquired through the attainment of a bachelor’s degree and 3 years of experience.
  • Skills for conducting reliable and independent research.
  • Excellent communications skills.
  • Ability to work independently and to collaborate well with diverse stakeholders.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of or experience in subject matter preferred.
  • Personal experience with a service year.
  • Understanding of the service sector nationally.
  • Understanding the nonprofit sector in Massachusetts Master’s degree in related discipline and 3+ years of experience in related field of study.
  • Experience ensuring compliance of web page content with W3C and Section 508 (ADA) accessibility standards preferred. Ongoing training will be provided to help keep up with current trends and requirements. 

An employee in this position must complete all appropriate background checks at the time of hire, promotion, or transfer.

Equal Opportunity Employer – minority/females/veterans/disability/sexual orientation/gender identity.

Apply here.

opportunities in Civic Science

At Tisch College, we are working with many colleagues and peers to help build a field that we call Civic Science. Key players here are our senior fellow for Civic Science, Jonathan Garlick, and our postdoctoral fellow in Civic Science (whom we share with the Kettering Foundation), Samantha Fried.

One of our collaborators in the work is the Rita Allen Foundation, which sends this exciting announcement:

We are excited to announce a new Civic Science Fellowship opening. This Fellow will work for 12 months to advance emerging collaborative work among a group of funders with shared interest in advancing meaningful, inclusive engagement between science and society—including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the Kavli Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation. The Fellow will work with each partner foundation, with multidisciplinary fields of research and engagement practice, and with communities underserved by existing science communication efforts to ensure that their goals, objectives, and efforts inform the path forward for the funders’ collaborative efforts. The Fellow will be part of the pilot cohort of Civic Science Fellows—promising leaders from diverse backgrounds who will be embedded in key supportive networks and will work on multidisciplinary projects that connect civic science research, effective engagement practice, scientists, and communities.

The full position description can be found here:

memory politics

I’ve been in Madrid, Munich, and Berlin for a few days of vacation with family, plus the meetings with scholars from Spanish-speaking countries and scholars and activists from the former Soviet bloc that are described in “Civic Studies Goes Global” (July 17). In all, I had conversations with roughly one hundred people, if you include the high school students whom I taught in their school outside of Madrid, a firm of Spanish anarchist architects, grad students from countries like Belarus and Georgia, and even the well-informed guide who led our walking tour of Berlin’s Mitte. We also learned a lot from museum displays in places like the German Historical Museum, and I’m deep into David Blackbourn’s History of Germany 1780-1918: The Long Nineteenth Century.

Memory politics (how political actors influence what nations or other groups remember) is important everywhere and often generates current divisions. That is true in the United States, where questions of American exceptionalism versus the original sin of white supremacy are at the forefront right now. A leading question is how we should remember our past–not just what we should do next. Similar questions arise in the former Soviet bloc, in Latin America, and practically everywhere I can think of.

Germany does a good job with its memory politics today. The Federal Republic has made an acknowledgement of its Nazi past central to its civic culture–but you can see how that stance evolved, sometimes painfully, in the post-War era. In the library of an agricultural institution, I read a proclamation issued in 1945 on behalf of Bavarian farmers. It denounces the tyranny and war they have just experienced. The farmers express sympathy for the murdered, including an explicit mention of the death camps. But they add that it is “particularly” cruel that the tyranny conscripted Bavarian agricultural workers, since a farmer has Christian love for the land and other people. I admit that my first reaction was that these farmers were probably part of Hitler’s electoral base in 1932. That turns out not to be true–he did much better with Protestant rural voters and lost Bavaria (narrowly) to the Catholic Centre Party in the last free election of Weimar. Still, this document seems like only the first halting step toward an appropriate view of the past.

A fine example of current memory politics–German, but one could imagine similar efforts in other countries–is the exhibition “Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum.” Bronzes and other sculptural works from Africa are paired with European sculptures selected from this extraordinary collection. The labels invite us to ask why some things have been categorized as ethnographic objects and others as works of art; how to think about artists whose names are famous or who are anonymous; how aesthetics, faith, and functionality interrelate; how various cultures represent power, gender, and otherness; how these objects found their way to a museum on the Spree; and how sculptures from Europe and Africa have been cleaned and displayed (in this case, the parallels are more evident than the differences), among other questions.

As a whole, the Bode-Museum displays primarily Christian religious objects in a building that recalls a grand renaissance basilica, but its religion is High Culture or Geistesgeschichte, not Catholicism. Its contents are not of local provenance, nor looted from other countries, but purchased on the international market–albeit often as a result of someone else’s looting. And many of the objects are themselves efforts at memory politics, like this 19th-century figure of an ancestor from Hemba in the DRC.

See also: thoughts after a similar trip last year; the politics of The Sound of Music; the state of the classics in 2050; marginalizing odious views: a strategy; and civic education in the year of Trump: neutrality vs. civil courage.

Chill out with this Summer D&D Podcast Compilation!

It’s been a while since we offered a compilation of podcasts related to dialogue, deliberation, and engagement work. So for your summer enjoyment, we’ve compiled some excellent listens for you to kick back to while on your summer vacation, tune into while you’re at work, or however you enjoy! Let us know which one of these podcasts resonate with you in the comments section below. If we are missing some of your favorite podcasts or standalone episodes – we’d love to hear that as well so we can add them to this growing list!

From NCDD members

  • NCDD members, Erin and David Leaverton launched their new podcast, Hello My Name is America! Their new podcast shares the experiences of the individuals they met along the way on their one-year dialogue tour of the US and seeks to explore the root causes of divisions in the US. Listen here.
  • NCDDers Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart host the podcast, The Outside, a joint conversation to bring in the fresh air necessary for large-scale systems change and equity. Listen here.
  • NCDD member Reva Patwardhan hosts the Dialogue Lab podcast and offers conversations to inspire listeners to thrive while making an impact. Listen here.
  • The McCourtney Institute for Democracy, an NCDD member org, has been running their podcast, Democracy Works, with hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem on various democracy issues and interview people working in democracy. Listen to it here.
  • NCDD member organization, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, has several podcasts related to dialogue and NICD’s work, which you can listen to by clicking here.

From the NCDD network

  • James Madison Center for Civic Engagement just released their first six episodes of Democracy Matters – “A podcast exploring themes related to civic engagement in order to build a more inclusive, just, and equitable democracy”. Listen here.
  • Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program just started a new podcast, Thanks for Listening, “this podcast will spotlight efforts to bridge the political divide in the U.S. through dialogue and collaborative processes, profiling the important and often courageous work of individuals and organizations who are helping citizens engage with one another on challenging topics”. Listen here.
  • Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People, “is a podcast that brings people together across race and culture for open comfortable conversations about race in a casual setting to close the racial divide”. Listen here.
  • Conversations With People Who Hate Me by Dylan Marron, was recommended to us by Sage Snider as their favorite dialogue podcast. Check it out here.
  • Real Democracy Now! is a podcast based out of Australia and has several seasons that you can listen to here:
  • Engaging Local Government Leaders has a podcast about local government called Gov Love, which you can find here, and their goal “is to tell informative and unique stories about the work being done at the local level”.
  • Center for Civic Education has a podcast 60-Second Civicswhich is a “daily podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history”. Listen here.
  • The Aspen Institute has a podcast which you can listen to here, and is “working across the globe, bringing together people from different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view, to work together and find solutions to our world’s most complex challenges”.
  • The Civil Conversations Project is hosted by Krista Tippett from On Being, and “is a conversation-based, virtues-based resource towards hospitable, trustworthy relationship with and across difference”. Listen here.

Standalone episodes related to D&D:

  • NCDD Board Chair Martin Carcasson spoke with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on “Turning Conflict into Collaboration” about how we can have better conversations and work together on our “wicked problems”. Listen here.
  • NCDD board member Jacob Hess and long-time NCDD member Liz Joyner spoke on the podcast Next Door Stranger about their exciting effort their leading, Respect+Rebellion. Listen to Episode 5: Rebellion on Campus here.
  • NCDDer Lenore Bajare-Dukes helped create, “Left, Right & Center presents: Two Years, Diaries of a Divided Nation”, which is an “audio documentary following six v. different people in the Trump era has to say about polarization, identity, and dialogue”. Listen here.
  • Godcast podcast features “conversations about difficult devotion and restive religion”. Listen here.
  • The Private Side of Public Work featured CEO Matt Crozier of Bang the Table in this episode on their work and how to motivate people to be engaged. Listen here.
  • Conversations that Matter featured Valerie Lemming of NCDD member org, the Kettering Foundation. Via CTM: “In Episode 1 of our 7-part series on Democracy and the Media, Stu sat down with Valerie Lemmie of the Kettering Foundation to explore the current state of citizen engagement, the role that it plays in protecting Democracy, and how it has come under fire as the bombastic politics of the United States bleed over into the political mindsets of other nations.” You can read the article here and listen to the podcast on iTunes.
  • Shared with us via the EngagePhase Weekly newsletter:
    • EngagePhase recently shared the Talking Politics podcast and lifted up the episode on deliberative democracy. What can deliberative democracy add to traditional forms of political representation and how might it actually work in practice? Episode 135: Talking Politics guide to … Deliberative Democracy
    • “The latest episode of the No Jargon podcast features John Gastil, a professor at Penn State, in a discussion about citizen juries and some of the latest research into their inner workings and effectiveness”: Episode 117: The Citizen Expert
    • “A recent episode of the Reasons to Be Cheerful podcast featured guests James Fishkin (Stanford University) and Sarah Allan (Involve UK) in a discussion about various democracy innovations”: Episode 20. Rescuing Democracy: From Ancient Athens to Brexit

Don’t forget to check out the NCDD podcast too!

  • Episode One featured NCDD Managing Director, Courtney Breese and our former Board Chair Barbara Simonetti, on a powerful metaphor she realized which compares the D&D field to a multi-purpose public utility – click here to listen!
  • Episode Two told the story of Conversation Café by stewards of the process, co-creator Susan Partnow, past steward Jacquelyn Pogue, and NCDD staffer Keiva Hummel – click here to listen!
  • Episode Three was on the opportunities for D&D in Congress with Brad Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation and our own Courtney Breese – click here to listen!
  • Episode Four had  Journalism that Matters Executive Director Peggy Holman and Board President Michelle Ferrier discuss their thoughts about connecting journalists and public engagement practitioners – click here to listen!
  • Episode Five featured Julie Winokur of Bring it to the Table and their work on bridging political divides and healing partisanship – click here to listen!

Stay tuned to the blog as we work to release more NCDD podcasts in the future! We have a lot of great ideas in store that we would love to share with you and we encourage you to consider donating to NCDD in show of support to the larger dialogue and deliberation community or join as a member!

Fourth Annual Civic Institute Hosted by DMC on Aug. 16

The fourth annual Civic Institute is happening Friday, August 16th, hosted by NCDD member org the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. This will be one of the premier events dedicated to strengthening civic life in Alabama and will be a fantastic opportunity for those doing civic engagement work throughout the state.  DMC recently announced the session line up which you can read more below and on the DMC’s site here.

2019 Civic Institute: Sessions Announced

Join us Friday, August 16th at the American Village in Montevallo, Alabama for an exploration of the forces that pull us closer. 

The 2019 Civic Institute is your chance to connect with civic-minded change-makers and thought leaders from across Alabama in a dialogue on our state’s past, present, and future.

This year’s theme is “Closer to Home” and the day will be packed with engaging speakers and interactive sessions centered around some of the most profound issues we encounter as Alabamians. The Civic Institute is the perfect event to collectively ponder the power of our citizens and our communities to build the kind of Alabama they want to call home. Dr. David Mathews, president and CEO of the Kettering Foundation, will deliver the luncheon keynote address. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

We’ll gather from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM on Friday, August 16th at the American Village in Montevallo for a day of panels, sessions, conversations, and more. View FAQs and save your seat today here!

If you are registering a total of three or more people to attend the day-long event, you are eligible to save 10% per person. Contact the event organizer, Kate Zeliff, at with the details and you will receive a promotional code.

Interested in helping to sponsor the Civic Institute? Click here to find out more.

*Each participant will attend two of the six sessions, which run concurrently.

Inside Out: Strategies for Resisting Disconnection and Crafting Civic Identity in Alabama Communities and Prisons

This session will explore the responsibility we all share for welcoming the formerly incarcerated back into the fold of public life. We will deconstruct the core tenants of civiclife (education, participation, socialization, work, etc.) as they serve to define and limit the carceral subject. This session will feature speakers on the front lines of this work who are making investments into the currently and formerly incarcerated; from teaching college courses behind bars to providing housing for women during reentry, we will explore creative strategies for resisting disconnection and isolation through dialogue and deliberation. Read more and register here.

The Benefit of the Doubt: Preparing Ourselves for Authentic Engagement and Productive Disagreement

What does it mean to engage with each other in “good faith”? What does it mean to afford our neighbor “the benefit of the doubt”? What, exactly, is the benefit of assuming the best in a stranger? There are plenty of opportunities to become involved as a formal practitioner of dialogue and deliberation, but far fewer chances for us to examine the ways we interact with friends, neighbors, and strangers interpersonally. This session is about how to act—how to let down our individual and collective defenses to bring strangeness closer and become comfortable living with the ambiguity and uncertainty that characterizes community work and public identity. Read more and register here.

Building a Durable Life: The Impact of Social Infrastructure on Alabama’s Public Health

Often regulated to the realm of professionals, health may be one of the most ubiquitous, yet compartmentalized topics of daily life. And like any other issue of both public and deeply personal concern, expert terms will only ever be a part of its definition. Considering people’s lived experiences, and the spaces, networks, and cultural contexts in which they occur, is vital to understanding the importance of social infrastructure in public health. This session will view health not just as a result of research and medicine, but also as a product of dynamics hidden in plain sight. Read more and register here.

Geographical Imaginations: The Role of Storytelling in Southern Culture and Identity

Stories help us make meaning of the world, and there is perhaps no region of America more storied than the South. But Southern stories, like most, aren’t simple. The stories of home that we tell ourselves and each other are intertwined with history and collective mythmaking. Some stories are passed down from generation to generation, while some stories are lost, forgotten, and/or erased—and must be recuperated. This session will explore some of the groundbreaking work being done to resuscitate the stories of marginalized voices in Southern history, and will examine the narrative structures of feeling that undergird our public and private identities. Read more and register here.

Found in Translation: Engaging Communities Across the Language Barrier

Talking about difficult issues is challenging in any language. In every community there are problems to solve, limited resources, and different perspectives. Cultural and language barriers can make communicating about shared problems and opportunities an even greater challenge. But these barriers represent rich worlds on each side, and sometimes in order to address problems well—and heal divides—it becomes necessary to look at an issue from a broader vantage point. This session will feature community leaders who represent, and often inhabit both worlds daily, working to bring people together across language and cultural barriers in Alabama communities. Read more and register here.

A Public Enterprise: Civic Education and Community Collaboration in Workforce Development

Active citizenship and civic education are rarely the first things that come to mind when discussing workforce development. This panel seeks to change that perception. The dedicated Alabamians featured in this session are working in their communities to create programming that prepares the next generation for a successful career and for active citizenship. Panelists are leaders in Alabama’s workforce development field, who will highlight the essential role of partnership, collaboration, and community engagement in effectively preparing young Alabamians for the jobs of the future. Read more and register here.

View FAQs and save your seat today here! If you have additional questions, contact the event organizer, Kate Zeliff, at We hope to see you on August 16th!

You can find the original version of this announcement on the David Mathews Center blog at