Dig into this Democracy Summer Reading List

Now that summer is in full swing, we are hoping folks are getting some down time to enjoy the season. Whether you are relaxing or needing a break from work, check out this summer reading list gathered by Democracy Works, a podcast created by NCDD member org, the McCourtney Institute at Penn State. Let us know in the comments if you are reading any of these and please let us know your recommendations for books on democracy, dialogue, deliberation, and/or public engagement! You can read the article below and find the original version on the Democracy Works site here.


Season 1 finale: A democracy summer reading list

Ah, summer. Time to kick back and relax with a good book or two.If you’ve been to a book store or the library lately, then you’ve probably seen at least a few books on democracy on the shelves. The 2016 presidential election spurred a lot of conversation about the current state of our democracy and where things go from here. These books are not what most people would call beach reading, but they are important to understanding what’s happening in the U.S. and around the world right now.

We know you probably don’t have time to read all of them. Hopefully this episode will help you choose one or two to tackle this summer. Here’s the rundown of the books we discuss:

And here are a few others\ we recommend but didn’t have time to discuss in this episode:

Thank you to everyone who supported us on the first season of Democracy Works. Season two will begin in mid-August with a look at Confederate monuments and public memory on the anniversary of last summer’s riots in Charlottesville.

You can find the original version of this article on Democracy Works site at www.democracyworkspodcast.com/2018/07/09/season-1-finale-a-democracy-summer-reading-list/.

Podcast Round-up on Dialogue, Deliberation, & Democracy

As we finish up this last official week of winter and begin to welcome in the spring, we wanted to share some of the podcasts that have crossed our paths recently related to all things dialogue, deliberation, democracy, or public engagement. Whether to inspire, challenge, or purely for entertainment – these podcasts can help get us through the last bit of winter hibernation or energize us to get ready for any upcoming spring cleaning!

NCDD has put out a few podcast episodes that we encourage you to listen to:

  • 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!

We look forward to releasing more NCDD podcasts in the future – so stay tuned!

We’ve rounded up some other podcasts which you may find interesting, check them out below:

  • The McCourtney Institute for Democracy, an NCDD member org, just launched the first episode of 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.
  • 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.
  • These next two podcasts were shared with us via the EngagePhase Weekly newsletter:
    • “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
  • 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, 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 Civics, which 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 to it 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 (one of the favorites of NCDD staffer Keiva!) 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 to it here.

Let us know in the comments below what podcasts you’ve been listening to lately and share some of your longtime favorites!

What’s New?

Diving into Public Philosophy, or maybe Belly-Flopping Into It

This spring has been BUSY. In Moving to Lexington, KY, I decided that among my key aims would be to dive deeper into the waters of public philosophy, public intellectual engagement. So far, a number of related activities have kept me busier than I could have imagined. They’ve also been hugely rewarding.

Still capture from our Trigger Warnings online symposium. Organizationally, I’ve been working a great deal on projects for and leadership of The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA, on Twitter & Facebook). Last fall, we held an online video symposium on “Trigger Warnings,” which was a lot of fun, and we need to hold more of them. We haven’t gotten back to that yet, but we need to, I think. We should probably think of that kind of work as a program, one with a name, and that should happen with some frequency, as well as an officer leading the charge for how and when we’ll hold the next one. We’ve certainly learned a great deal about the need for and steps for better audio quality in recording such events. The next one will be better and we’ll keep on growing our archive of material and gatherings.

The DJ booth at WRFL Lexington on December 10th, 2016.In work for SOPHIA, we’ve also returned to a project I started in 2015, which was my Philosophy Bakes Bread podcast. Instead of it being solo and only a podcast, we’ve welcomed Dr. Anthony Cashio of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise as a co-host on the show, which is now centered on interviews about how and why philosophy matters in real life and leadership. We’ve been very fortunate to get a spot on WRFL Lexington, 88.1 FM. The program is now a weekly radio talk show and then a podcast after that, the Philosophy Bakes Bread radio show and podcast (on Twitter and Facebook too). We started in January of 2017 and have been very busy ever since. The podcast, when I worked on it alone, only came to 4 episodes in 18 months. Since committing to the weekly radio show, we’ve aired 32 episodes, 27 hour-long programs and 5 short “breadcrumb” episodes. It has been considerably more work than I could have imagined, but it’s also been a great deal of fun. More importantly, it’s been some of the most engaging public philosophical work I’ve done to date. We’ve got listeners in 67 countries and the show has been downloaded over 9,000 times to date. We’re excited about approaching the early milestone of 10K downloads, which we hope to see happen in the next 10-14 days, or less, as far as our present trends appear to be going. That’s super exciting.

Logo for Philosophy Bakes Bread, which looks like two conversation bubbles shaped like slices of bread.

We also have a logo for the show now, that isn’t just my lame effort to put a text over an image in Photoshop… We’re finally getting around to putting the word out in efforts beyond social media posts. We’re WAY overdue on a few requests for interviews. To give you a sense of why, for each episode, we need to: 1) think about who’ll be on, 2) invite the person(s) on the show, giving info about what we do, how, etc., 3) schedule the interview, 4) meet to prep to give the interview, 5) meet and record the interview, 6) edit the interview for airing as an episode, 7) go to the station and air the episode, 8) announce the show on social media before and as it’s airing, 9) get the files after airing from the station and perform final mastering on them, 10) prepare language, images, and social media posts to accompany the podcast episode release, 11) post the show and announcements on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, then 12) secure and make final tweaks to transcripts of the show that the great Drake Boling, UKY Philosophy undegraduate student, has been doing for us, and finally, 13) post the transcript on our site, as a PDF, and on Academia.edu. Ok, now do that 31 more times… to date (no, we’re not up to date yet with all the transcripts). To say it’s been a lot of work is an understatement.

Logo of the Public Philosophy Journal.This means that I’ve not had a chance to do as much of my own (single-author) writing, but the good news is that I’ve been doing considerably more coauthoring. In the academic world of Philosophy, people tend to think of meaningful writing as single-authored work, at least much of the time. That’s a mistake. There have been excellent philosophical works that are coauthored. Among them, I’m thinking of a number of projects by Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse. But they’re uncommon in the field. I’m glad to have had the chance to do some coauthoring, and one of these opportunities was a very special one. Again related to SOPHIA, I and three scholars put together a project that we pitched for the Public Philosophy Journal. The idea is that some theorizing has been needed for SOPHIA to pursue its mission: to build communities of philosophical conversation. To that end, Andrea Christelle, Sergia Hay, James William Lincoln, and I ventured to Michigan with grant support from the journal and the Mellon Foundation, ultimately, to write together a “Groundwork for Building Communities of Philosophical Conversation.” I’ve experienced coauthoring only a few times, and it’s not always been easy. This case went very smoothly. We’re not done with our project, and getting together remotely to finish the project is taking time, but the pay off has been great. We’re researching needs and methods for building communities of philosophical conversation, because we believe there’s a great need for a more philosophical culture in the United States and elsewhere.

SOPHIA's group at the PPJ's 2017 Collaborative Writing Workshop.

SOPHIA’s group at the PPJ’s 2017 Collaborative Writing Workshop.

Beyond that, I committed to coauthoring a paper for the Summer Seminar on the Future of Philosophy at UNC Ashville this July, which I’ll be driving to this afternoon. I’m also giving my own individual paper there, but have been very happy to coauthor a paper with my Philosophy Bakes Bread co-host Dr. Anthony Cashio as well. We’re looking to finish a longer paper a little later this summer for the journal, Dewey Studies, and this is a step in that direction. The paper is called “Lessons Learned Baking Bread: Taking Philosophy to Radio and Podcast.” We had a blast writing it, and were inspired in relation to that to answer some of our interview questions that we’ve received (and have been way late in answering them) in the last few months. Anthony is not only great to talk to on the show, but also to write with. I’m hoping that my future includes more and more coauthoring, because it’s very rewarding and makes for a superior project, I believe, when we can draw from more minds and from encouraging and sympathetic thinking and dialogue.

Lumber I milled up in late November and December of 2016. Last but not least, I’m finishing work finally on my edited collection of John Dewey’s public writings. That’s been a long-time coming. I keep thinking it’ll be done soon, and it will be soon now… I’m also working to finish my next book, which I’ve been developing longer than any before, called A Culture of Justice. That’s the other topic I’ll be talking about tomorrow in Asheville. These projects would have been done far sooner if I hadn’t committed to an intensive radio show, but I don’t regret a thing. It’s all been super rewarding. I feel as though I’m constantly working and getting more and more behind, but I think it’s more likely that progress is just advancing slowly on the huge projects, bit by bit, and that I’ll be excited to see them at the end. That’s a lot like a big bed project, which I’ve completed in my new hobby of woodworking. I milled the lumber for it in late November and December of 2016. Big projects sometimes creep along, but eventually, if you keep making little bits of progress, they come together, like this:

The bed I planned and built over the course of 7 months.

I need a nap… Nah, coffee will help. I’m excited to be headed to Ashville, to meet up with some great philosophers. And, while there, to do a number of interviews for Philosophy Bakes Bread! When we can record in person, it’s awesome, like in these two cases from my trip to Michigan (photos below). Thanks to Chris Long for the great photo with typewriter in the foreground, and thanks to Naomi Hodgson and Amanda Fulford (I don’t recall who took the picture, of the two) for the pic of our setup in the less attractive computer room in Michigan. The rooms were quite different, but the conversations were both substantive and fun.

This is a photo of four people sitting around a table and a microphone to record an episode of Philosophy Bakes Bread in May of 2017, in a lovely room near South Gull Lake in Michigan.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Christopher P. Long, 2017.

This is a photo of me setting up to do an interview with Amanda Fulford and Naomi Hodgson in Michigan, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Naomi Hodgson and Amanda Fulford, 2017.

I don’t know how interesting this post is or has been for people, but it felt good to sit down and write it out. It may be of interest to a few people who’ve been kindly following and engaging with me on social media. In fact, I should mention a bit of a celebratory moment: I’ve hit 100,000 “likes” on my Facebook author page! That’s super cool and deeply gratifying. Thanks to everyone who’s been following my work. It’s really rewarding to write about and advocate for things that others care about too, making however small a contribution to dialogue about issues so many of us care about. It’s impossible to measure real impact, but we shouldn’t let difficulty in measuring something meaningful keep us from diving into it, or from belly-flopping into it as the case may be.

Image of a post from my Facebook page about a signed-copy giveaway for my latest books.

Image of a post from my Facebook page about a signed-copy giveaway for my latest books.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for your interest! If you’re not yet following me on Twitter or on Facebook, get to it!

New NCDD Podcast Episode Featuring Bring it to the Table!

The latest episode of the NCDD Podcast is now live! You can find this on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play.

In this episode, NCDD Managing Director Courtney Breese speaks with Julie Winokur of Bring it to the Table. Julie is Producer and Director of Bring it to the Table, a project seeking to bridge political divides and break down partisanship through a documentary, webisodes, online platform and community engagement campaign. Julie speaks about her experiences filming the original documentary in 2012 (some of you saw the documentary at NCDD 2014!), as well as her more recent work bringing the film and table talks to college campuses. She also shares her reflections on the state of U.S. politics today and the opportunities she sees for us to come together through dialogue.

The NCDD podcast is a new format for leaders and practitioners from the D&D field to share their stories and ideas, as well as discuss opportunities and challenges in this work. The podcast will also help us to continue our conversation from the NCDD 2016 Conference about #BridgingOurDivides.

We invite you to listen to this episode and share your thoughts here, particularly about the opportunities you see for dialogue across political and other divides. In light of Julie’s story, what more can we be doing as individuals and dialogue & deliberation practitioners to bring people together across our differences? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Our thanks to Ryan Spenser for his continued help recording and editing these podcast episodes.

Please share this episode and the podcast links with others – and let Courtney (courtney@ncdd.org) know if you have any ideas for future episodes!

Exciting Growth for Philosophy Bakes Bread

Some of you may recall that I started a podcast in 2015 called Philosophy Bakes Bread. Now that it’s a production of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA), which airs on WRFL Lexington, and with my co-host from afar Dr. Anthony Cashio, the show is picking up steam.

Logo for Philosophy Bakes Bread.

As a stand alone podcast in 2015 and 2016, each episode was scripted and recorded by yours truly. It took a lot of time and it was hard back then to commit to putting out episodes as regularly as I had wanted to. Now that the show has a cohost and is primarily an interview-format and discussion-style show, and now that it’s on the radio each week, it’s been much easier to commit to regular work on it and to put out a steady stream of episodes. The latter is so crucial for developing and growing an audience.

One bit of good news is that we’ve just received our first iTunes reviews for the show, which are both 5 star reviews! We’re thrilled that people are enjoying the show.

Photo of a microphone and a soundboard.It helps for the show to be on the radio, which already has a listening audience base. Plus, the team at the station has been a big help. They’re looking into ways for us to transcribe the episodes, perhaps with grant support. Then, we’ve seen good early numbers for podcast episode downloads. We’ve only been putting them out since the last week of January, with minimal social media distribution efforts and so far we’ve had over 2,000 downloads. We’re looking to start sending out PSA’s and to get with TV news and newspapers about the program. Who knows. It would certainly be awesome eventually to syndicate the program, if interest grows.

The cool thing about a program like Philosophy Bakes Bread is that we can cover so many topics that matter. We can at the same time simply present matters that scholars are researching, that audiences care about, and we can also be advocates about things that matter. We can have people on whom we think ought to be heard more. Soon, we’ll be airing an interview with conference panelists who wrote and spoke about disability and American philosophy. That’s just one of many exciting examples.

Sliced loaf of French bread.I’ll keep you posted from time to time on what we’re up to with the show. For now, if you’ve not already subscribed, what are you waiting for? Go check us out at PhilosophyBakesBread.com. We’re on iTunes and have a regular RSS feed, which you can learn about on our site. We’ve just now submitted our feed to Google Play, which should likely be listing the show soon. And, of course, we’re on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out!

Interview on BAM South’s Midlife Criss podcast

January 6, 2016, With host Jack Criss, and guests Kinsella, Weber, and Rings

Photo of a microphone in front of a soundboard.

I had a great time talking with Jack Criss on BAM South’s Midlife Criss podcast. The interview will soon be up on BAM South’s site, but for now Jack’s posted the interview on Sound Cloud. The player is here below. Jack is a great M.C. and he had questions for me about Uniting Mississippi. My interview is about 16 minutes in from the start of this audio recording. I’m the second of three guests: Stephan Kinsella, me, and John L. Rings.

The Logo for BAM South, with the tag line, "Business Always Matters."Jack has kindly invited me to join him again for a more extended discussion when I’m next in Jackson, MS. I’ve got plans in the works for a trip to Jackson at some point in the spring of 2016, so I think that it would be great to join Jack again.

The name BAM South is short for Business Always Matters. Check out the online publication, which features a nice podcast series. Jack has a great voice, I should add. Fun host too. I hope you enjoy.

Here’s the interview (again, my interview is around 16 minutes in):

More information about Uniting MississippiInfo on Speaking.