Developing Forums in Community Politics: A Model for Sustaining Citizen Involvement and Action

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In this Kettering Foundation Report, authors David Stein, Associate Professor, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University, and David Patton, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Executive Director, Council for Public Deliberation, The Ohio State University, posit that sustaining commitments to public deliberation will require change in values and meaning associated with public life (transformative learning). These changes can occur with support and nurturance in a deliberative discussion network. The authors write, “Sustaining citizen involvement in local community issues is enhanced through the process of training moderators who can work in the community to help convene and facilitate a reasoned exchange of ideas, which is so crucial to a democracy. Individuals make decisions to become moderators, but it is the deliberative discussion community who supports and encourages the transition from forum participant to community discussion moderator.” Based on interviews and observations with experienced moderators, the researchers developed the Sustaining Citizen Leadership model, which, they say, “suggests that the transition is not necessarily the result of attaining skills for leading and conducting forums, but rather the result of developing values and beliefs that support citizen participation and efficacy in owning and acting on political issues.” 

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Theory and Practice