Posted: November 8, 2014 Filed under: News and Views | Tags: deliberation, immigration, Kettering Foundation, public engagment, public issues
(The following post, by Brad Rourke, a program officer at the Kettering Foundation, first appeared in the Kettering Foundation blog, Inside Public Judgment.)
November 7, 2014
The 2016 mid-term elections in the United States are complete, and the two major political parties are evaluating what the results mean for them politically. Both Republicans and Democrats appear to have adopted a stance that might best be described as: “I will say I will work with the other side, but only if they do what I want them to do.” This is, of course, a prescription for something other than “working together,” and it is likely to leave much of substance languishing.
Both sides are already identifying immigration as an area of conflict. The president has vowed action (which observers say is likely to include some form of work permit for undocumented individuals), while the speaker of the House of Representatives has vowed that any unilateral action by the president is “playing with matches.” This is on the heels, reportedly, of a year of discussions between the two party leaders that ended poorly.
Kettering research over decades suggests that the way difficult issues like immigration are framed by policy leaders and experts is often at odds, or at least out of step with, the way in which people see those issues. Where the dominant political discourse frequently sees conflict, people in communities are wrestling with tensions among the things they hold valuable. This is not a question of one solution versus another. Instead, the question individuals must wrestle with is, what am I willing to give up—and under what conditions.
On immigration, Kettering research suggests that people see this issue in a more nuanced way than the binary amnesty-vs.-tough-borders way in which the issue has been portrayed in the media. Their concerns center on a range of things that are commonly held valuable by all—our self-image as a welcoming nation, personal and national security, and the reality seen by many that our prosperity depends on immigrants. These concerns became the basis for the options in a guide for public deliberation that Kettering prepared for the National Issues Forums Institute, Immigration in America: How Do We Fix a System in Crisis? Three options are outlined, each rooted in a different view of the problem:
1. Welcome New Arrivals. A rich combination of diverse cultures is what defines us as a people. We must preserve our heritage as a nation of immigrants by shoring up our existing system while also providing an acceptable way for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living here to earn the right to citizenship.
2. Protect Our Borders. Failure to stem the tide of illegal immigration undermines our national security, stiffens competition for scarce jobs, and strains the public purse. We need tighter control of our borders, tougher enforcement of our immigration laws, and stricter limits on the number of immigrants legally accepted into the country.
3. Promote Economic Prosperity. To remain competitive in the 21st-century global economy, we need to acknowledge the key role that immigrants play in keeping the US economy dynamic and robust. This option favors a range of flexible measures, such as annual adjustments to immigration quotas, that put a priority on our economic needs.
The difficulty of immigration lies in the tensions between these things. One reason this issue is so intractable is that these tensions must be worked through by the public before there can be any durable policy solution.
If people deliberate in communities across the United States, where they can work through these options and address the trade-offs that they require, policymakers may well see a public voice emerge that can suggest the outline for a path forward.
Click here to order Immigration in America from the NIFI store.
Posted: November 3, 2014 Filed under: News and Views | Tags: civic learning, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, deliberation, democracy, public issues, teachers, teachers institute
(The following announcement is from the David Mathews Center for Civic Life in Alabama.)
The Mathews Center is pleased to announce that registration for Teachers’ Institute 2015 is now open. Teachers’ Institute is an interactive, hands-on professional development experience designed to equip teachers with skills and tools to increase active civic learning in the classroom and beyond. The workshop will be held January 15 – 16, 2015 at the American Village, and A+ Education Partnership and Alabama Public Television will be co-sponsoring the event.
Registration is free*, but space is limited. Reserve your spot today HERE. For more information, contact DMC Program Director Cristin Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The Mathews Center will reimburse substitute pay for all attendees. CEUs will be provided.
Posted: November 2, 2014 Filed under: News and Views | Tags: Alabama, Birmingham, children, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, early childhood, public engagement, public forums
Alabama Issues Forums 2014 – 2015 Kickoff
After months of work, the David Mathews Center for Civic Life is excited to announce that we are kicking off Alabama Issues Forums (AIF) 2014 – 2015 in two weeks. During the yearlong series, we will be focusing on “Minding Our Future: Investing in Healthy Infants and Toddlers.” The first forum will be held on Thursday, November 13 from 6:00 – 8:00PM at the Harris Early Learning Center in Birmingham, Alabama. The Early Care and Education Work Group of the Children’s Policy Council of Jefferson County is convening the event, and everyone is invited.
If you are interested in convening a “Minding Our Future” forum in your community, please contact DMC Program Director Cristin Foster at email@example.com.
Posted: October 29, 2014 Filed under: News and Views | Tags: democracy, Kettering Foundation, national issues, National Issues Forums, public deliberation, public issues
The Kettering Foundation has announced that work is underway on an issue advisory with the working title, “Infectious Disease in America: How Do We Keep Our Communities Safe?”
This issue guide is being prepared by the Kettering Foundation for the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), and will soon be available to download on the National Issues Forums website at http://www.nifi.org.
Watch for more details about this latest publication in a series of issue guides and advisories intended to help people deliberate about difficult national issues.
Posted: October 21, 2014 Filed under: News and Views | Tags: American Library Association, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, deliberation, issue framing, public engagement, public issues
(The following announcement is from the American Library Association Center for Civic Life, and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.)
Does your community have a problem that looks like this?
Join us to learn how you can help overcome deadlock and lead change in your community.
WATCH it Online Now – Session 1: “Beyond Deadlock: A Better Way to Talk about Difficult Issues”
COMPLETE! View the archived webinar
- Learn to help people work together to talk about public issues and make choices.
- Uncover the deeper concerns of our communities.
Session 2: “Tools for Naming and Framing Public Issues”
Wednesday, December 3, 4 – 5 p.m. EDT / 3 – 4 p.m. CDT / 1 – 2 p.m. PDT
- Learn the steps and processes for leading a “naming and framing” effort.
- Apply tools that help people weigh options for moving forward together
- Register for Session 2 at http://bit.ly/namingframing2
Session 3: Check-in (date TBD)
- Share experiences with fellow participants in a follow-up webinar or conference call.
Registration is free, but space is limited.
Questions? Contact Nancy Kranich, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: October 21, 2014 Filed under: News and Views | Tags: Augsberg College, civic engagement, democracy, Higher Education, Kettering Foundation, public issues, Shaping Our Future, Tufts University, White House
(From Harry Boyte, email@example.com)
White House Civic Summit on Higher Education
October 16 at Tufts University, the White House, working with the Department of Education, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Tuft’s Tisch College of Citizenship, organized a gathering on higher education’s civic purposes. It was called “The White House Civic Learning and National Service Summit.” Alan Solomont, former ambassador to Spain and now dean of Tisch College, gave an impassioned opening address on how democracy is endangered. Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research and director of the CIRCLE research center, played a central role in organizing the meeting.
The meeting brought together about 50 White House aides, agency officials and staff, higher education leaders and community activists and leaders. Jonathan Greenblatt, director of citizen participation in the White House, and Robert Rodriguez, Obama education policy adviser, gave opening remarks.
The title of the gathering may have revealed a shrinking of the sense of possibility in the administration. The name of the event, “Civic Learning and National Service,” is smaller than the earlier meeting on which it built, “For Democracy’s Future,” at the White House in 2012.
But the discussions were animated and productive, and pointed to a crucial need for deeper dialogue with the public on the public aims and contributions of higher education.
Jamienne Studley, Deputy Under Secretary for Higher Education, made a strong pitch for the continuing bully pulpit role of administration officials in promoting change. Studley chaired a panel which including Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Richard Freedland, Commission of Higher Education in Massachusetts. Both discussed what has happened since the earlier White House meeting, January 12, 2012, when AAC&U unveiled the report, A Crucible Moment, commissioned by the Department of Education, calling for civic learning to become “pervasive” in colleges and universities. Perhaps the most significant development in the intervening time was the strategic plan developed among public universities in Massachusetts, which calls for pervasive civic learning and will evaluate presidents’ performance based on progress toward that goal.
“For Democracy’s Future” also launched the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP), a one year alliance to commemorate the 150th anniversary of land grant colleges. ACP developed strategies to revitalize the democracy story, purposes, and practices of higher education. In the session chaired by Andrew Seligsohn, new president of Campus Compact, I described these democracy initiatives. These include the initiative on civic science (described in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harry-boyte/civic-science-renewing-th_b_5950972.html ), Citizen Alum, an effort to broaden alumni’s roles to “doers not only donors” coordinated by Julie Ellison of the University of Michigan, and the forthcoming book collection from Vanderbilt University Press, Democracy’s Education: Public Work, Citizenship, and the Future of Colleges and Universities http://www.amazon.com/Democracys-Education-Citizenship-Colleges-Universities/dp/0826520367
They also included a conversation in communities across the country on the purposes of higher education, “Shaping Our Future,” http://www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=6&itemID=21640 . “Shaping Our Future” was launched at the National Press Club on September 4, 2012, with Martha Kanter, Under Secretary for Post Secondary Education, David Mathews of the Kettering Foundation, Muriel Howard, president of AASCU, Nancy Canter, then Chancellor of Syracuse University, Bill Muse, president of the National Issues Forums and other leaders.
My take-away from the October 16th meeting was that the civic engagement movement in higher education has a more urgent sense of the importance of higher education’s contributions to revitalizing and deepening the democratic story, purposes, and practices of colleges and universities than two years ago. There is also great need, and new opportunities, to let people know about higher education’s public and democratic roles.
The group strongly supported the proposal of Barbara Vacarr, past president of Goddard College, that presidents need to articulate a bold vision of their colleges’ democracy role. Participants also agreed s with the remarks of Carolyne Abdullah of Everyday Democracy that faculty need to learn skills of collaborative partnership with communities, becoming democratic role models for students. But today the democracy identity of colleges is largely counter-cultural. While many pundits express alarm about higher education and its purposes, few mention any relation to democracy. For all the service-learning projects, community research and other important engagement efforts over the last two decades connecting higher education to communities and the society, the democracy history and purposes of higher education are now largely forgotten. Many colleges and universities advertise themselves as tickets to individual success.
In contrast, the Commission on Higher Education created by President Truman declared in its 1947 report, Higher Education for American Democracy, that “the first and most essential charge upon higher education is that at all levels and in all its fields of specialization, it shall be the carrier of democratic values, ideals, and process.” This reflected a broad national discussion growing out of land grant colleges, the City College of New York, community colleges and elsewhere that highlighted higher education’s multiple public roles.
In “Shaping Our Future” discussion and the listening process for a follow-up national deliberation, “The Changing World of Work: What’s Higher Education’s Role?”, on how colleges can be resources for communities in dealing with radical changes in work and workplaces, we have talked with thousands of citizens about their concerns.
We found wide sentiment that the current policy debate about higher education is too narrow and short term, focused on immediate issues like student debt, distance learning, and vocational education. These are important, but as people deliberate about options they express the conviction that today’s policy discussion neglects ways in which higher education needs to prepare students for a rapidly changing world and to make contributions to that world. We also discovered that while public knowledge of the once vibrant story of public contributions by higher education has largely disappeared, there is hunger for this narrative if people have the chance to learn it. The mood shifts from “me” to “we.”
Participants in the White House civic summit on October 16 believed that it is imperative for higher education to reaffirm its democracy purposes and educate about the democracy-building story of higher education. Our discussions with citizens outside higher education have shown that people will respond, but it takes a process of deliberation and discussion to acquaint the general public with this history and current examples.
Thus, there is great importance in the “Changing World of Work” deliberation. “The Changing World of Work” will be launched at the National Press Club January 21, 2015, by the Kettering Foundation, Augsburg College, host of the ACP, and the National Issues Forums.
Democracy’s advance can no longer be taken for granted, in the United States or around the world. Higher education needs to step up to the plate, communicating a much deeper and richer understanding of democracy in which citizens are the central agents, not simply elections where we select leaders to “do democracy” for us.