From June 27 to July 2, 2008, more than 250 people from across the United States and from around the world gathered in Dayton, Ohio, during the Deliberative Democracy Exchange (DDEx), Kettering’s newest workshop series, and our annual Deliberative Democracy Workshop (DDW). As with all Kettering meetings, the focus of DDEx and DDW was research: reflecting on, analyzing, and sharing experiences in order to answer fundamental questions about what it takes to make democracy work as it should. Most workshop sessions explored new experiments, including opening additional areas for collaborative studies. Beyond explorations of potential research projects, DDEx and DDW participants came together for intense discussions about the state of democracy around the world. These discussions took place in the halls, in small meetings, and over meals during the workshop. "The exchange created a space," Kettering President David Mathewsobserved, "where people could share their experiences and then synthesize those experiences into what for everybody was a better understanding of what they were doing." "This kind of space is very rare; it’s very fragile," Dr. Mathews said. "It’s a space in which we can, on a multinational basis, explore the human dimensions of politics." As part of our research, Kettering gathered several groups of participants to talk about their work. During these discussions, we asked them to consider these broad themes to inform further research:
- What do you think is happening to democracy today?
- What is the role of citizens in the democracy that is emerging in the 21st century?