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Posts Tagged ‘NIF’

On November 4, twenty-five students, faculty, and administrators at St. Edward’s University (SEU) participated in a deliberative forum on Democracy’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public’s Role. Organized by the SEU New College, the university’s program for working adults, the goal of the forum was to explore different ways that students can learn and practice their roles as citizens.

During the two and a half hour forum, participants explored the role of higher education in helping students to recognize their own unique contribution to our democracy and discussed ways to inspire them to become engaged citizens. Using a discussion guide prepared by the National Issues Forums Institute, participants considered three perspectives of what it would take to reclaim the public’s role in democracy.

Even though participants agreed the the university needs to provide students with opportunities for citizen engagement, the group recognized various barriers within educational institutions and within society that can prevent people from participating fully.

The lack of trust in government, the disconnect people feel with the process, the inability to talk about tough issues without polarizing around the differences, the loss of our public spaces used for public deliberation – all of these items were explored with a spirit of curiosity and respect. One of the most compelling ideas to come out of the discussion was an awareness that civic engagement in the future might look very different than what it has looked like in the past.

While it wasn’t immediately clear how dialogue and deliberation could be used more fully on campus, there seemed to be agreement that the skills would be important for SEU graduates, and that students could use these skills out in the community as they talk about issues that matter to them. New College is also considering whether or not to use this process in their required mission courses that every student takes upon entering New College. The university has already scheduled a follow up to the forum, which will be a two day Moderator Training on Jan. 8-9 on the St. Edward’s campus.

Following the event, Vicki Totten, who helped organize the event for New College faculty and students, said

I am excited about the potential of using dialogue and deliberation to help students talk about difficult issues in the classroom.

She added that deliberation might be an important foundation for any student, since in order to work on difficult issues, it is important to be able to know how to move a discussion from a debate toward true dialogue.

Another important aspect of the deliberative model is that it emphasizes the need to understand the important role that values play in forming our perspectives, an important hallmark of a St. Edward’s education.

This forum, a project of the LBJ Presidential Library was one of dozens of forums being held by all twelve presidential libraries across the country, and made possible with funding from the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Issues Forums.

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On October 7, Texas Forums hosted a forum, Coping with the Cost of Health Care using the National Issues Forums discussion guide in partnership with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Christian Life Commission, Texas Impact , and Texas Health Institute. Students in the Fielding Graduate University Certification in Dialogue, Deliberation and Community Engagement served as our moderators. As a result of our forum, we have been invited to work with the Critical Condition collaborative that is working to raise awareness of the growing health care crisis documented in Critical Condition by filmmaker Roger Weisberg.

KLRU will be hosting a panel presentation on November 17 from 7:30 – 9:00 that will kick off ongoing community conversations. Details below.

Monday, November 17, 2008

7:30-9 p.m. (doors open at 7)
KLRU-TV, corner of Guadalupe St. and Dean Keeton
(RSVP to rsvp@sdchf.org by Tuesday, November 11)

Texas has the highest rate of people without health insurance in the country. The Census Bureau shows that 1 in 4 Texans are uninsured, with 265,859 of those people living in Central Texas. Those numbers do not include Texans who are underinsured with inadequate coverage.

The issue is critical and urgent. Sixteen Central Texas organizations have joined forces in the collaboration Critical Condition: Central Texas to create and sustain a strategic planning and action-oriented community conversation on what health care we have, what health care we need, and what it will take to achieve it.

On Monday, November 17th, this conversation will begin with a 90-minute panel at KLRU studios. We invite you to be a member of the audience, which will be filled with key individuals from throughout the region who have a real stake in ensuring that our families, neighbors, and employees can get the health care they need. These key individuals include representatives from small and large businesses, government (including elected officials), education, health care providers, health care consumers, social services, insurance, and the faith community; all segments of the community with a stake in understanding the connection between access to health care and the overall health of the region in the broadest sense. Your presence is needed to enhance the dialogue and build a platform for sustainable solutions.

In the months after the forum, the conversation will continue on a larger scale, as we provide opportunities for additional public input through surveys, interviews, and discussion groups. We hope you remain engaged in the process, engage others in the areas where you are most connected, and bring others to the conversation as we press for viable answers. The issue is pressing and the questions complex, but Central Texas cannot wait for others to address this crisis. Please join us as we tackle this critical condition.

Your RSVP is required as there are only 300 seats available, and we intend to fill every one. Please send a response to rsvp@sdchf.org by Tuesday, November 11.

Critical Condition: Central Texas partner organizations are the American Cancer Society, Austin/Travis County Community Health Centers, Austin Travis County MHMR Center, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Integrated Care Collaboration, insure-a-kid, Lone Star Circle of Care, People’s Community Clinic, Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David’s Community Health Foundation, Texans Care for Children, and the Travis County Healthcare District and the University of Texas Medical Branch-Austin.

More information about the local collaboration and the PBS documentary “Critical Condition” can be found at www.klru.org/criticalcondition. Questions regarding this event may be directed to a collaboration member or to Kristy Ozmun of Kristy Ozmun Public Relations, kristy@ozmun.com or (512) 474-1501.

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Coping with Health Care

On October 7, Texas Forums will hold forums on Coping with the Cost of Health Care using the National Issues Forums discussion guide. The event will take place on the 10th floor of the LBJ Presidential Library, 2313 Red River St. Registration, refreshments, and resources will be available at 5:30 and the forum will take place from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The LBJ Library is joining with all 12 Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration to hold forums on health care and other topics between Labor Day and the November Election.

We are pleased to be joined by some outstanding local partners in this venture who will be on hand to provide information about the state of health care in the state of Texas. Our partners include: the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Christian Life Commission, Texas Impact , and Texas Health Institute. Students in the Fielding Graduate University Certification in Dialogue, Deliberation and Community Engagement will serve as our moderators.

“Hosting National Issues Forums at the Presidential Libraries is consistent with our emphasis on civic education,” Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, said.  “Presidential Libraries are public places and it is appropriate for citizens to engage in intense discussions of major public policy issues in the midst of a presidential campaign.  However, the goal should be hosting discussions which are balanced, civil in tone and fair-minded.”

“Participants in a forum,” NIFI Chairman William Winter, said, “deliberate with one another, eye-to-eye, face to-face, exploring options, weighing others’ views, considering the costs and consequences of public policy decisions.  In a democracy, citizens have a responsibility to make choices about how to solve problems and forums help enrich participants’ thinking on public issues.  By offering citizens a framework for deliberative forums, NIFI helps the public take an active role in acting on public issues.”

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Patty won’t be in the room with us at the LBJ Library, but she’s a dear friend who’s very thoughtful so I’ve invited her to be a guest blogger with us for the Tavis Smiley event tonight.

Patty Dineen

Patty Dineen has been convening and moderating National Issues Forums (NIF) in Pennsylvania and other states since 1994.  She is one of the instructors for a deliberative democracy workshop held each summer by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  She has assisted with issue framing and large deliberative forum projects including the Philadelphia Inquirers Citizen Voices projects, the Philadelphia Education Summit, Common Ground in Akron Ohio, and Global Connections-Pittsburgh forums. She has written two issue books for the American Bar Association; about public trust and the American justice system, and about the jury system.  Patty does freelance writing and is the contributing editor for the National Issues Forums News (online)

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