Background of the Democracy Imperative:
A couple of years ago, Bruce Mallory and Nancy Thomas convened a meeting of higher education folks to address the question: Is there a need for those of us concerned with the role of higher education in deliberative democracy to join forces and share knowledge and resources? The answer has been a resounding YES as is evident by the number of people participating here this week – 270 antitipated and judging from the limited number of open seats. The guest list reads like a who’s who in higher education and deliberation / service learning / community development & organizing. In addition, there are a number of representatives from non-profits.
To get a really good idea of who is here, David Campt is leading us through a keypad poll using Turning Point keypads. Here are the results:
- 1/3 have used keypads, and 1/3 are new.
- 60% are female
- 41% are 40-55, but we do have 7% below 24 years and hopeful for more in the future!
- 73% white again confirming that diversity is an ongoing challenge for this field
- we are primarily from U.S., but we have 20% from outside of North America representing important perspectives for us to have in the room.
- very good representation from around the country with the bulk (38%) from the northeast where the conference is taking place.
- As far as the two issues that drew people to the field:
- collaborative governance
- justice and equity issues
- Given lots of options about who we wanted to meet at this conference, the bulk answered “the person sitting next to me” (although Sarah Palin’s media advisor got a few hits proving that even academics have a sense of humor and, like me I will confess, can’t take their eyes off a train wreck!)
In just a couple of hours, I will be co-facilitiating a session with colleague John Stephens from the University of North Carolina on: Tech Ethics: The Values questions raised in a digital democracy.
I’ll check in throughout the week as I get time and have something worthwhile to say – or not!