Nevins Fellows Begin Internships – TWO with NCDD orgs!

We are very excited to share an update from Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy, that the new Nevins Fellows will be starting their summer internships! NCDD has partnered with the McCourtney Institute over the last few years to help connect students from their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program to internships with individuals and organizations in the D&D and public engagement field. We are extra proud to share that two of the fellows will be joining NCDD member orgs – the Participatory Budgeting Project and Everyday Democracy. Please join us in wishing all the Nevins Fellows the best of luck in their new roles – you will be great!

We encourage you to read the announcement below and find it on McCourtney’s site here.


Nevins Fellows Begin Summer Internships

This week, our new cohort of Nevins Fellows will start working with organizations around the country that advance democracy in a variety of areas.

Over the next two months, students will have the opportunity to learn what it looks like to engage in deliberation, outreach, and other processes that are essential to a healthy democracy.

Here’s what they are most looking forward to as they begin their internships:

Alexis Burke
Participatory Budgeting Project
Brooklyn, New York

I chose to work with The Participatory Budgeting Project because of their tangible effects on the communities they work with. Through the implementation of small d democracy, The Participatory Budgeting Project helps to foster community and democracy in the New York metropolitan area.

I’m most looking forward to connecting with The Participatory Budgeting Project’s team members as well as members of New York’s various communities. I can’t wait to gain hands-on experience implementing everyday democracy.

Maia Hill
City of Austin
Austin, Texas

I selected this organization because the mission aligns with some of the practices I believe need to be incorporated within all communities. This line of work would help me in the long run because I plan on going into politics and/or becoming a State Representative and in order for me to be an effective and efficient leader in that line of work.

Entering into this internship, I hope to gain a greater understanding of the importance of participatory democracy. I am looking forward to learning how to be active within community engagement and how to get minorities within between race, ethnicity, gender, etc. involved within local government to get the change that they want and need within their communities. This hands-on experience will definitely make a huge difference in how I can also be more involved with the current community I reside in here at Penn State.

Sophie Lamb
Everyday Democracy
Hartford, Connecticut

I chose Everyday Democracy because of their focus on the inequalities in the criminal justice system. I am fascinated by the differences between how legislation is written compared to how it is implemented. I am also excited to see the outreach the organization does and how they interact directly with different communities.

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to see how laws are implemented compared to the theoretical intention behind legislation, specifically in regards to the racial disparity in the criminal justice system. In addition, this internship will allow me to continue to improve on the research and writing skills that I have built during my time at Penn State.

Stephanie Keyaka
City of Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland

I went to school in Baltimore City, so I have an extreme love for the community. What attracted me to this site was Councilman Cohen’s dedication to building a stronger democracy and legislating that is rooted in equality and justice. I wanted to do more for communities of people that look like me, and this site and the office’s mission aligned perfectly with my political aspirations.

It will be very interesting to use a racial equity lens to tackle public policy issues in Baltimore City. Urban and local politics are often overlooked, but can have be of extreme importance for the members of this community. I am hoping to better learn the ways in which local politicians can have an impact on the immediate lives of residents, especially in marginalized communities

You can find the original version of this announcement on McCourtney Institute’s site at www.democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu/blog/nevins-fellows-begin-summer-internships.

Join NCDD at Frontiers of Democracy Conference 2018

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming 2018 Frontiers of Democracy conference is happening at Tufts University from Thursday, June 21st until Saturday, June 23rd! The annual Frontiers of Democracy brings together leaders working on deliberative democracy, civic engagement and civic education, to explore how to further advance democracy. NCDD’s Managing Director Courtney Breese will be presenting a session on Friday, June 22rd during on the 2nd session block from 2:30pm-4pm on “Partnering to Strengthen Participatory Democracy: How Might We Connect and Collaborate?”. We encourage you to read the announcement below and find the original on the Tisch College website here.


Frontiers of Democracy Conference

Frontiers of Democracy is an annual conference hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University since 2009. The 2018 conference will take place from June 21 (5:00 p.m.) until June 23 (1:00 p.m.) at Tufts University’s downtown Boston campus in Chinatown.

Partners for the conference in 2018 include the Bridge Alliance, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, the National Conference on Citizenship, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

You can now register and pay to hold a spot. Please note that speakers and session organizers must purchase tickets.

Frontiers of Democracy immediately follows the Summer Institute of Civic Studies, a selective 2-week seminar for scholars, practitioners, and advanced graduate students.

Frontiers 2018 Theme

According to Freedom House, democracy has been in retreat worldwide for 12 years. Many people are pushing back, including activists and organizers who are nonviolently struggling, using tactics like strikes, boycotts, and mass demonstrations against entrenched power. Other individuals and groups take different approaches, some seeking a greater degree of neutrality and emphasizing deliberative dialogue, particularly when they work within institutions such as schools, public agencies, and newspapers. This year, Frontiers will bring people from these communities of scholarship and practice together to ask how they can learn from and complement each another.

You can read the full agenda for the 2018 conference by clicking here.

Looking Back: Frontiers 2017

Thanks to everyone who joined us at an exciting, thought-provoking, and timely Frontiers of Democracy 2017. You can watch the video of this year’s introduction, “short take” speakers, and one of our afternoon plenaries, below. (You can click on each video’s title to watch on YouTube and, in the description, find timestamps that allow you to skip to a specific speaker’s presentation.)

Frontiers 2017 was focused on multiple frameworks for civic and democratic work developed respectively by Caesar McDowell of the Interaction Institute for Social Change and MIT, Archon Fung of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Tisch College’s Peter Levine. Our short take speakers included Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson, the senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri; Wendy Willis of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the National Policy Consensus Center; and Hardy Merriman, President of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

In addition, the Journal of Public Deliberation, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and The Democracy Imperative held a pre-conference symposium on “Deliberative Democracy in an Era of Rising Authoritarianism.”

Check out the preconference symposium’s agenda and readings and the full Frontiers 2017 schedule.

You can find the original version of this announcement on Tisch College’s site at https://tischcollege.tufts.edu/research/civic-studies/frontiers-democracy-conference.

The Importance of Civics Education in our Country

While NCDD member org, Everyday Democracy, shared this article on the importance of civics education a while back, we wanted to lift it up because it is still so relevant. The article talks about how education in this country has shifted from preparing students to be more civically engaged, to training students for the workforce. While the latter is important, our democracy suffers when the people are not trained on how to be civic agents. The article stresses that in order for our democracy to thrive and for our communities to be stronger, people needed to have civics a part of modern education. You can read the article below or find the original on Everyday Democracy’s site here.


The Decline of Civic Education and the Effect on our Democracy

EvDem LogoWhen I was five years old, my parents dropped me off at Radnor Elementary School for my first day of Kindergarten. This was the first day of many years of public education for me.

My high school, like so many in our country, steers students towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Personally, I was lucky enough to have great teachers who encouraged me to look beyond this narrow focus and find subjects that interested me, but my story is the exception rather than the rule.

In the past few decades, the focus of our public education system has turned sharply toward STEM as part of a broader reconceptualization of the role of public education. Whereas education was once seen as a public good designed to prepare students to participate in our democratic system, it is now seen as a primarily individual pursuit intended to help people develop employable skills and prepare to contribute to the workforce.

A little bit of history on the public education system

To better understand this monumental shift, it is important to understand where our public education system comes from. The history of public education in the U.S. is inseparable from the history of our nation, and I believe that their futures are intertwined as well.

Before the American Revolution, school was primarily for the lower and middle classes. Wealthy families hired tutors for their children, so only parents who could not afford tutors sent their children to school. A few colonies had experimented with state-supported education in the 17th century, but these early public education systems had mostly died out by the middle of the 18th century.

Under British rule, colonists had no reason to care whether or not their neighbors were sufficiently educated. There were plenty of ways for people with very little education to support their families and average colonists had very little political power.

The Revolution changed that: we fought a war for the idea of republican government, and now we needed citizens who could sustain it. In a letter discussing the soon-to-be-held Constitutional Convention, John Adams wrote that “the Whole People must take upon themselves the education of the Whole People and must be willing to bear the expenses of it.” This belief was widely shared amongst the founding fathers, who recognized that a people transitioning from subjects to citizens would need to be educated in order to serve the many functions required of them in the new republic.

After the Revolution, American citizens would need to decide who would represent them, know when their representatives had violated their trust, serve on juries, and possibly decide on Constitutional Amendments. Education had to reflect this reality by teaching history, rhetoric, and government in addition to literacy and arithmetic.

While some states headed the call of the founding fathers and created state-supported public education systems, most states needed more persuading. This persuading came in the form of widespread demographic changes.

From 1820 to 1860, the percentage of Americans living in cities nearly tripled. Caring for the poor residents of these cities was expensive, and the fact that many of them were Irish and German immigrants bred resentment. To cities looking to reduce poverty, assimilate immigrants into American culture, and keep people out of trouble, institutionalized education systems made a lot of sense. In 1918, Mississippi became the last state to embrace compulsory education; and no state has abolished its public school system since.

Civic education

The rise of public education was motivated by the need to prepare students to participate in American life as citizens, workers, and community members. While the early public education system took all three dimensions of their mandate very seriously, the rhetoric surrounding public education today has a very different focus.

You have probably heard some variation of the argument that American students are falling behind the rest of the world and we need to invest in science and math education so that our economy can stay competitive. You may have seen college majors ranked by post-graduation earning potential, or read about how educational attainment is a “signaling device” to employers, or heard some of the arguments for and against the “Common Core Standards.” These opinions are well-intentioned, but they all focus on a single educational outcome: career success.

To be clear, I believe that education ought to prepare students to participate in the workforce. I recognize that the increased economic opportunity that comes with educational attainment is a primary motivator for many students to attend school, and I am not suggesting that career success is not an important focus of our public education system. Instead, my argument is that our obsession with the economics of education comes at a substantial cost in terms of civic health, which in turn introduces new risks to our economic stability.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, only 31% of Americans can name the three branches of government (and 32% cannot name a single branch). In 2011, when Newsweek administered the United States Citizenship Test to over 1000 American citizens, 38% of Americans failed. This widespread civic illiteracy is not just shameful, it is dangerous.

How can we expect people to hold their representatives accountable when 61% don’t know which party controls the House and 77% can’t name either of their state’s senators? How can we expect Americans to exercise their rights when over one third can’t name any of the five rights protected by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, the press, protest, and petition)?

Our democratic system depends on citizens to take an active interest in the affairs of our government, develop informed opinions about how our government should act, and chose representatives who share their beliefs about the direction our country should take. When legislators know that their constituents do not know or care what they are doing, it gives them an incentive to cater to the lobbyists and special interest groups who are scrutinizing the legislators’ actions. From 1964 to 2012, the percentage of Americans who believed that government is “pretty much run by a few big interests” increased from 29% to 79%, while the percentage of Americans who believed that it was run “for the benefit of the people” decreased from 64% to 19%.

Citizens of a Democracy do not have the luxury of refusing to care about their government. We the People are ultimately responsible for what our representatives do on our behalf using our collective power. Willful ignorance does not absolve us of this responsibility.

Civics education teaches students how to fulfill this essential responsibility, which is why the public pays for it. If education were all about training people for jobs, we would expect employers to pay for the basics and individual students to pay to train for more advanced jobs. Instead, we recognize that citizens need a certain amount of education to carry on our democratic traditions and that it is in the public’s interest to ensure the future stability of our country. Part of that stability is preparing people to get jobs and contribute back to society financially, but the main part is ensuring that people understand the role they play in our system and are able to play that role.

Strong civic health means stronger communities

There is also a growing body of research that suggests that communities with strong civic health have stronger economies, were more resilient during the financial crisis, and have higher rates of employment. When people come together with their neighbors to identify, discuss, and solve community problems, they build relationships and develop skills that ultimately help all of them economically as well as personally.

Nobody will make us be citizens. If we do not want to understand how government works or what it is doing, we can give our political power to someone else. There are plenty of countries who have vested that power in a monarch, party, oligarchy, aristocracy, technocracy, emperor, etc. Subjects in these countries have no need to trouble themselves with public affairs, and we could be like them; but, as Plato once wrote, “the heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”

In the United States, we the people have decided to take responsibility for governing, and we temporarily delegate some of that responsibility to our elected representatives and the unelected officers they select. We benefit tremendously from living in a democratic republic, but these benefits are not without cost.

For the last several decades, the focus of our education system as shifted from civics to job training, and we have all paid a steep cost. Special interest and lobbying groups have unprecedented power over our political system. A lack of knowledge about public affairs has made citizens more susceptible to political advertising, which has given the wealthy tremendous power to shape politics through campaign contributions and ad spending.  So few Americans trust the political system that nearly half of 2016 primary votes went to candidates promising anti-establishment revolutions.

If we really care about preserving our democracy for future generations, we will stop treating civics education as secondary to math and science instruction and put it back at the core of our school curricula.

You can find the original version of this article on Everyday Democracy’s site at www.everyday-democracy.org/news/decline-civic-education-and-effect-our-democracy.

Attend the UNCG Annual Conference in Portland this June

The University Network for Collaborative Governance is holding their annual conference in Portland, Oregon from June 3rd – 5th. Hosted by NCDD member org Kitchen Table Democracy, along with National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University, this conference will be an excellent opportunity for academic professionals working on collaborative governance to learn from each other and deepen the impact of collaborative governance work on a systemic level. The conference will focus on the integration and innovation of collaborative governance research, practice, and teaching, through group discussions and “Lightning Talks” [5 min or less presentations]. Proposals for “Lightning Talks” are due by April 16th, so make sure you submit yours ASAP! We encourage you to read the announcement below or find the original on Kitchen Table Democracy’s site here.


University Network for Collaborative Governance 2018 Conference

June 3-5, 2018 – Portland, OR

Hosted by the National Policy Consensus Center, Portland State University (UNCG members Oregon Consensus, Oregon’s Kitchen Table, Oregon Solutions)

About the Conference

What does the tapestry for collaborative governance research, practice, and teaching look like for the next 10 years?

The UNCG annual conference is an opportunity for academic professionals – including faculty, staff, and students – from across the county who are engaged in the work of collaborative governance to come together to learn from each other.  This year’s conference will build off recent strategic planning activities and will challenge participants to ask how we as a network can strategically evolve to more systemically address societal challenges, engage the next generation of university-based collaborative governance professionals, and contribute to deepening the understanding of the impact and results of collaborative processes.

At this year’s conference, we are particularly interested in two topic areas:

  • Integration of Research, Practice, and Teaching: How are we – or how could we be – connecting the dots and integrating the three topic areas UNCG focuses on: research, practice, and teaching.  What are some instances where we have been weaving together all three through one approach, program, or project, where research, teaching, and practice all come together? What are the challenges to being able to incorporate all three together? And, how could we be doing that better? What are the opportunities for us – either as a Network or in our individual/center work – to bring research, practice, and teaching to inform one another and advance each forward?
  • Innovations in Research, Practice, or Teaching: Where have we been particularly innovative in research, practice and teaching, or in the development of supportive public policies, around collaborative governance? As we look forward to another 10 years of UNCG, how are our member centers, individuals, and partners venturing out on innovative paths? What ideas, perspectives, or approaches are emerging, or should emerge, in collaborative governance?

This year’s conference format will include a mix of “Lightning Talks” and group discussions focused on the above two topics.  Attendees will also spend time in focused breakouts/work sessions to advance priority actions identified in the 2018 UNCG Strategic Plan that will advance collaborative governance research, practice, and teaching.

Call for Proposals

We invite submissions from UNCG members, university-based faculty, staff, and students, and members from other networks working in the field of collaborative governance to present “Lightning Talks.”  Lightning Talks are short (5 minutes or less) presentations that respond to either one of the two topic areas, Integration or Innovation (see above).  Presentations may be accompanied by a slideshow, but much like Pecha Kucha or Ignite Talks, slides are limited to 15 and will be advanced for you! As part of UNCG efforts to explore different communication methods and approaches, we’re also challenging presenters to use slides with a limit of 5 words (per slide) and images, graphics, art, or video. The intention is that the slides will act as prompts to help you in your presentation and to “illustrate” what you’re talking about rather than act as text for you/the audience to read and focus on.

Click here for: Lightning Talks Template

Helpful tips are here and here.

You can practice with a timer! There’s an app for that.

Submit your proposal here by April 16.

You can find the original version of this on Kitchen Table Democracy’s site at www.kitchentable.org/annual-conference.

Apply for Technology and Democracy Fellowship by 4/15

As NCDD reflects on the ways in which technology can support face to face D&D in today’s Tech Tuesday, we wanted to share this fellowship opportunity which supports the technological work that enhances democratic governance. [By the way, you can still join the free Tech Tuesday here!] Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, an NCDD member, recently announced they are offering an unpaid, non-resident Technology and Democracy Fellowship; to create space for participants to build relationships, develop their work or research, and have a unique opportunity to dig into the bigger questions behind their practice. The fellowship deadline is April 15th, so apply now if you are interested! Learn more about the details of the fellowship in the post below or find the original here.


Technology and Democracy Fellowship

Applications are now open for 2018 Fellowships. Applications can be found here

The Technology and Democracy Fellowship is part of an Ash Center initiative to explore technology’s role in improving democratic governance—with a focus on connecting to practice and on helping Harvard Kennedy School students develop crucial technology skills.

Over the course of the fellowship, participants design, develop, or refine a substantive project that is salient to their field. This project could entail research, writing, and developing strategy relating to each fellow’s work, or could take the form of a new platform, service, app, or idea.

Technology and Democracy Fellows form a virtual community through which they share ideas and resources, pose questions, offer feedback, and help one another with solving challenges in their projects or other work. The Kennedy School serves as a unique space for these technologists to take a step back from the day-to-day minutia working in the world of practice to discuss, research, and write about the bigger questions their work addresses.

Fellows also help students, staff, faculty, and other members of the HKS community to develop their understanding of major concepts and to build skills related to technology and governance. This knowledge sharing is primarily delivered through a hands-on, skill-building workshop that each fellow designs and leads once during the year on a topic of interest to the fellow (see past workshops here).  Fellows can also develop personal relationships with faculty, staff, and fellows at HKS in the form of consultation and mentoring, event/speaking opportunities, and more.

The Technology and Democracy Fellowship is an unpaid, non-resident fellowship, so Fellows are not expected to reside or work locally. We invite Technology and Democracy Fellows to Cambridge at least twice during the course of the fellowship year (at the Ash Center’s expense) to give workshops, present their work, and meet with members of the HKS community.

Eligibility
The Fellowship welcomes mid-career practitioners with an interest in leveraging technology to improve democratic governance. Each cohort of fellows includes technologists with an interest or background in democratic politics and governance or public and civic leaders with technology expertise.

How to Apply
Applications are now open. Please apply here.  The deadline for completed applications to be submitted is April 15, 2018. For questions, please contact Teresa Acuña at Teresa_Acuna@hks.harvard.edu.

Current Technology and Democracy Fellows
The 2017-18 Technology and Democracy Fellows are below.

Fatima Alam, Researcher on Trust and Safety at Google

Tiffani Ashley Bell, Founder and Executive Director of The Human Utility

Jeff Maher, Software Engineer for CivicActions

Marina Martin, Public Interest Technology Fellow at the New America Foundation

Aaron Ogle, Director of Product for the OpenGov Foundation

Mjumbe Poe, Co-founder and CTO of FixList

You can find the original version of this article on the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation’s site at www.ash.harvard.edu/technology-and-democracy-fellowship.

Canadian School of Peacebuilding

The Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), an institute of Canadian Mennonite University, offers a selection of five-day courses each June. Courses can be taken for professional or personal development or for academic credit.

The CSOP is designed for anyone between the ages of 20 and 90 who is interested in peace work, including not-for-profit staff and interns, activists and peace educators, community leaders, religious leaders, teachers and professors, students (undergraduate or graduate), and government officials. All participants need to be fluent in English. The school is designed to be an environment characterized by educating for peace and justice, learning through thinking and doing, generous hospitality and radical dialogue, and the modeling of invitational community. The CSOP is for peacebuilders from all faiths, countries and identity groups.

Information about registration, costs, meals, and lodging is available on their website, as well as course descriptions, instructor bios, videos, pictures and stories from past years of CSOP, and peace resources. You can follow them on Twitter, and find them on Facebook and Instagram. Inquiries about the school, especially regarding registration can be sent to their main email address: csop@cmu.ca.

Resource Link: http://csop.cmu.ca/

This resource was submitted by Megan Klassen-Wiebe, Partnership and Public Engagement Coordinator of Canadian School of Peacebuilding via the Add-a-Resource form.

Winter Updates from AASCU’s American Democracy Project

For those working with civic engagement and higher ed, we wanted to share these recent updates from AASCU’s the American Democracy Project about several exciting opportunities! Coming up this Wednesday, February 28th from 1-2pm Eastern, is a free webinar on assessing civic competency and engagement, and how these efforts translate to student learning. Second, there are three different national ADP awards nominations that are now open and are due by March 30. Finally, check out the upcoming 2018 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting (#CLDE18) on June 6-9, hosted by the American Democracy Project (ADP), The Democracy Commitment (TDC), and the NASPA Lead Initiative. You can read the announcement below or find the original on ADP’s site here.


ADP Winter 2018 Updates & Announcements

With our recent effort to significantly increase our ADP programming, you might be interested in some of the upcoming ADP activities, including opportunities to get national recognition for deserving folks on your campuses.  Please pass along to those who might be interested as well.  Thank you in advance for your support

Free Webinar Featuring Assessment of Civic Competency and Engagement
Wednesday, February 28 | 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST
Register now

Walking our Talk: Converting Civic-Focused Mission Statements to Student Learning
Many higher education institutions include complex civic concepts as part of their missions, but how do we know if we are translating these lofty goals into student learning? Assessment is often viewed as a secondary or even bureaucratic institutional practice but done well it supports learning improvement processes that prioritize student development, organize institutional efforts, and direct change. This session will discuss recent ETS research initiatives focused on national trends in the assessment of civic competency and engagement as well as an institutional perspective on assessing and addressing these skills in students.

Presenters: Ross Markle, Senior Assessment Strategist for Higher Education, ETS; and Kara Owens, Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, Salisbury University (Md.)

Nominations for Three ADP National Civic Engagement Awards Due March 30, 2018

  • The William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement is given each year to an AASCU chief academic officer in recognition of his or her leadership in advancing the civic mission of the campus. Chief academic officers may be nominated by anyone. The president or chancellor must endorse the nomination. Nomination materials for the 2018 Plater Award must be submitted electronically by March 30, 2018. For information and cover sheet: http://www.aascu.org/programs/adp/awards/WilliamPlater/
  • The John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement is presented annually to an emerging leader (e.g., early career faculty/staff) in the civic engagement field from an AASCU institution. Emerging Leaders may be nominated by anyone. Nomination materials for the 2018 Saltmarsh Award must be submitted electronically by March 30, 2018. For information and cover sheet: http://www.aascu.org/programs/adp/awards/JohnSaltmarsh/
  • The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement is presented annually to a senior faculty member in the civic engagement field from an AASCU institution. Senior ADP faculty members may be nominated by anyone. The provost or chief academic officer must endorse the nomination. Nomination materials for the 2018 Burch Award must be submitted electronically by March 30, 2018. For information and cover sheet: http://www.aascu.org/programs/adp/awards/BarbaraBurch/

Participate in ADP’s National Conference: The 2018 Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 to Saturday, June 9, 2018
Hyatt Regency Orange County • Anaheim, California

The American Democracy Project (ADP), The Democracy Commitment (TDC), and NASPA are committed to advancing the civic engagement movement in higher education. Join us in Anaheim, California for our annual conference which brings together faculty, student affairs professionals, senior campus administrators, students and community partners. Together we will ensure that students graduate from our colleges and universities–both public and private–prepared to be the informed, engaged citizens that our communities and our democracy need.

Learn more about ADP and how to be engaged during our ADP Organizing Meeting on Thursday, June 7 from 9 a.m. – Noon. Annual awards will be presented during this meeting.

For more information: http://www.aascu.org/meetings/clde18/
Register now for the best rates.

You can find the original version of this ADP blog post at: https://adpaascu.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/adp-winter-2018-updates-announcements/.

NCDD at Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference

We are thrilled to let folks know that NCDD staff, Courtney Breese and I will be at the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference, which is happening on March 8th – 10th in the Phoenix area. This conference will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about the top innovations in civic engagement and democracy, and to network with leaders in the field doing this powerful work.

We are especially excited to announce we will be presenting a session in collaboration with two fellow NCDD members: Cassandra Hemphill of the IAP2 Federation and adjunct faculty at Missoula College of the University of Montana, as well as, Annie Rappeport of the University of Maryland where she serves as a PhD Student and Research Assistant. In this interactive workshop, we will use art to explore participants’ individual connections to participatory democracy, what led us to our work on improving our democracy, and what each of us offer to the field. We’ll explore how we are connected in our communities and how we might connect with others to strengthen participatory democracy. If you are attending IPD, we hope you will join us for our session during Block 1 on Thursday, March 8th from 3-4:30pm.

While we are in town, we would love to meet up with NCDDers in the area (and those attending the conference)! We are working to identify a location that could accommodate a meetup on Friday night (March 9th) after the IPD events that evening. If you are in town on the 9th and would like to join us, send Courtney an email at courtney[at]ncdd[dot]org and we’ll keep you in the loop as we firm up our plans!

IPD is being hosted by NCDD member organizations – the Participatory Budgeting Project and the Jefferson Center, as well as, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Katal Center, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group. If you’ve never been to a conference hosted by PBP and these fine organizations, you are in for a special treat! Tickets go up February 28th – so make sure you get yours ASAP.

There are several pre-conference trainings planned for Wednesday, March 7th, like a training on participatory budgeting (PB) hosted by the Participatory Budgeting Project, or a training on citizen juries, citizen assemblies, sortition, and more hosted by the Jefferson Center and the Policy Jury Group. Click here to learn more and register for these pre-conference trainings, and to see the full IPD conference schedule.

Remember to keep an eye out for Courtney and I if you are attending the conference because we would love to see you!

Kettering Releases New Higher Education Exchange

We want to encourage our members in higher education to check out the newest version of the Higher Education Exchange, a free annual publication from NCDD member organization the Kettering Foundation. The Exchange explores important and timely themes around the public mission of colleges and universities and offers reflections from both domestic and international scholar-practitioners on how higher education can and must shift toward teaching deliberation and civic engagement. We highly recommend it. You can learn more about the 2017 edition in the Kettering announcement below or find the full downloadable version here.


Higher Education Exchange 2017: Deliberation as Public Judgment

The 2017 issue of the Higher Education Exchange (HEX) takes on the divisive political moment we find ourselves in and argues that civic work that tries to be apolitical, or stays within the comfort zone of higher education, will not help us to bridge the divides that threaten our democracy

What makes this moment so critical? Polarization is now more intractable than it has ever been before. While elected officials have always had their disagreements, research has confirmed partisanship in Washington has grown to new levels. Media polarization is also on the rise. Not only are we confronted with ongoing socioeconomic and geographical divides, but also social media further enables segmentation into bubbles of like-minded groups. While information has never been more accessible, the citizenry cannot even agree on what constitutes factual information, much less how to interpret its implications.

In addition to the usual gridlock, the discourse of “winners” and “losers” raises the stakes of politics. Each side fears that the other seeks power to impose its will, further increasing the sense of tension and mistrust. As politics comes to be seen exclusively as a competition for power, the outcomes have less claim to be regarded as the expression of a deliberative process that represents the common good.

As a public institution, higher education would seem to be ideally placed to build bridges across these political divides. However, higher education has construed its neutrality narrowly, attempting to steer clear of politics rather than actively bridge political divides. At least since the advent of the modern research university, higher education has focused largely on the production and transmission of expert knowledge, conceiving its democratic role as informing the public. Higher education institutions are thus built around an epistemology that separates “facts” from “values” and, understandably, the historical focus has been on the former rather than the latter. However, if our current dysfunctions have more to do with political divisions than informational deficits, the question becomes: what more expansive civic role is higher education capable of playing?

In recent years, higher education has begun to talk more actively about its civic role. As part of this civic renewal, the word deliberation has enjoyed a resurgence, and higher education has played a key role in nurturing a field of practice across professional domains now ostensibly devoted to deliberative democracy. But what deliberation means may be more varied and obscure than ever. Depending on their purposes and contexts, practices referred to under the rubric of deliberation may have various and even contradictory effects. Deliberation is used for strikingly different purposes, including civic education, conflict resolution, input into government policy and administration, and social justice, and sponsoring organizations make a variety of design choices to suit their purposes. Despite such differences, deliberation is also used to describe the varied practices and examples taking place.

As a research foundation committed to a particular understanding of deliberation, Kettering’s challenge is to be clear about what we mean when we use the term. This volume of HEX attempts to distill Kettering’s understanding of deliberation.

At least two important themes define Kettering’s approach. First, this approach to deliberation is political. It aims to address dysfunctions of our political system, particularly the polarization of our public discourse and resulting loss of confidence in institutions.

Second, at the center of our approach to deliberation is the exercise of the human faculty of judgment. That is, rather than technical or instrumental problems, we seek to apply deliberation primarily to the complex value questions that most divide our country. Because such questions cannot be answered objectively, no amount of technical knowledge can resolve them. While judgment lacks the certainty of scientific knowledge as well as the romantic appeal of a unanimous consensus, we think it is precisely the virtue that is needed to address the communicative dysfunctions of our current political climate.

As our public discourse becomes increasingly adversarial, higher education and other expert professions may be tempted to double down on “informing” the public with expert knowledge. Kettering’s research suggests that we are in need of something different, an ethos—a set of skills, norms, and habits for civic discourse. While higher education is in a position to help bridge our differences, its overwhelming tendency has been to prioritize technical knowledge at the expense of civic ethos. Proponents of deliberation may unwittingly compound the problem by confusing the two. For those who wish to bridge our divides, we hope this collection will help them return their focus to the human faculty of judgment and recover the political roots of deliberation.

We hope this edition of HEX sparks a lively conversation on these themes.

You can find the original announcement of this on Kettering’s site at www.kettering.org/blogs/hex-2017-deliberation-public-judgment.