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ERIC Number: EJ914137
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-0271-0560
Facilitating Democracy: Centers and Institutes of Public Deliberation and Collaborative Problem Solving
Carcasson, Martin
New Directions for Higher Education, n152 p51-57 Win 2010
Facing significant budget deficits and stagnant enrollments, a local school district realized that they would likely need to close some schools, which is always a difficult issue for communities to consider. The school district, hoping to find a way to have a productive community conversation about this difficult issue, turned to a local, nonpartisan university-based organization to help examine the situation from an impartial, third-party perspective, and then design, facilitate, and report on a public participation process. The organization utilized students throughout the process, including as facilitators of small group discussions during each of three large public meetings. In the end, the public engaged a difficult issue much more productively, the school district gained high-quality public input, students had an opportunity to gain valuable experience and sharpen their twenty-first century skills in a "real-world" situation, faculty researchers learned useful lessons about collaborative problem solving and deliberative practice, and the university bolstered its value to the community. Projects such as these are happening more and more across the country in recent years. The continued development and maturation of campus-based centers and institutes tied to deliberative democracy, such as those that are a part of the National Issues Forum network and the University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG), represents a phenomenon that holds great promise to provide communities with the necessary capacity to spark and sustain productive collaborative problem solving. Such centers can serve as critical "hubs" of democracy that provide the necessary impartial resources and process expertise to connect experts, institutional decision makers, and the public in ways that democracy currently sorely lacks, but clearly requires to function well. This chapter provides an introduction to these centers, an overview of the two networks, and a summary of the type of work they do. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Colorado