K-12 and University
National Issues Forums Institute
Nearly 200 students from 26 colleges and universities joined in during the October 2020 Common Ground for Action Cross-College Campus forums, an annual event convened by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI). Students spent a week deliberating on issues like policing, free speech and the inclusive campus and voting as part of NIFI’s With the People Initiative.
At the end of each forum, students shared their thoughts about participating in a online deliberative forum. “I think that I was able to learn a lot more and see different perspectives I wasn’t aware of. A real eye opening experience!” remarked a student. Another student noted, “I actually think a chat room is better because it makes people feel less vulnerable and allows them to express their opinions more.” Not lost on this year’s participants is the role deliberative forums play in helping democracy work as it should, as one student put it, “I agree politics is too polarized and individuals are forgetting the most important part of democracy: talking respectfully with individuals with opposing views to meet in the middle.”
Ohio State University
Over the past five years, the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability made extensive use of Every Voice Engaged Foundation’s online deliberation software to host deliberative forums for OSU’s students on a variety of salient political issues. For example, as part of the First-Year Success Series, which provides resources for first-year students to integrate into college life smoothly, IDEA holds two dozen forums each academic year on topics like economic inequality to provide an opportunity for students to learn how to cope with the transitional challenge of participation in and engagement with a new and diverse community. Read about their efforts as part of OSU’s Conversations on Morality, Politics and Society here.