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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Our mission is to build community capacity for informed, engaged, civil deliberation.
Our vision is stronger democracy through enhanced public deliberation.

234 Nichols Hall
Kansas State University 
Manhattan , KS 66506 
785-532-3714 (fax)

Youth Facilitators and Community Conversations: K-State Research and Extension and ICDD Partner 

Mian is a student in Riley County and has participated in Community Conversations through Kansas 4-H Youth Development. She has produced a short, 6-minute video introducing the idea of community conversations, why they are different from debate, and how to facilitate these conversations (even with a nod to the ICDD Principles of Civic Discourse). You can watch Mian's presentation below.

More about Mian

Mian is an 8th-grade student at Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Manhattan, Kansas. Her passions include the violin, debate, science, and art. Inspired by her father, who works as a Graphic Designer at K-State, and fueled by her love for art motivated her to explore graphic design and compete in the Kansas Student Technology Leadership Digital Media (Graphic Design) Competition.

Mian was also trained this year as a Youth Facilitator in Community Conversations through a partnership project with 4-H and her school. The Youth Facilitators served as leaders in many forums and she believed they could use a t-shirt logo to identify their role in the deliberation process. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience as a Youth Leader while growing in confidence, communication, and leadership. Although this was her first time designing a logo, she was delighted to offer her graphic design talent to support the important mission of the collaborative project. This logo visually represents the Youth Facilitator's role, to facilitate communication between people by finding common ground when discussing complex issues. Mian has demonstrated how Youth Leaders can take an idea and put it into action.

(July 9, 2020)

Community Conversations on Race and Reconciliation

Community Conversations on Race and Reconciliation (CCRR), a project of the Manhattan Nonviolence Initiative (MNVI), is following up its February in-person convocation with a program of online, small-group facilitated discussions.  To launch the program, a diverse 8-member steering team recorded one of their own group conversations based on the question “What were your earliest messages or formative experiences regarding race?” https://www.facebook.com/manhattanksConversations/

As with all facilitated conversations, the group agreed in advance on a protocol and principles for interaction, with Susanne Glymour, the MNVI Director, leading the dialogue and sharing her own experiences.  Members sought to model best practices as well as share personal stories, and the first half-hour recording was posted as “Part 1”, to be succeeded with the more interactive segment of follow-up questions and explorations.   

Just as the steering team began to edit Part 2, events across the county in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis called for a response, to which CCRR is now dedicating more facilitated online discussions.  Mindful of the urgent need to share diverse perspectives at a moment of combined social and health crises, the recording and distribution of these conversations is intentionally designed to demonstrate how to create a safe space for sincere and deep probing into one of our most polarizing and sensitive public issues – the racial disparities witnessed in every aspect of justice today. For more information contact: Susanne Glymour by email to manhattannonviolence@gmail.com  

ICDD partners are reporting on other small-group dialogues addressing race in Kansas communities.  In Wichita, the e-newsletter Building Bridges edited by Jan Schwartzendruber reports on a Zoom series  named Discomfort and Grace hosted by Danielle Johnson of Wichita State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Joseph Shepherd, Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life at Newman University, and others.  This is a series of informal small discussions with local leaders representing diverse racial-cultural segments of Wichita.  

(June 3, 2020)

4-H Youth Community Conversations innovate online National Issues Forums

Training is in full swing in Kansas for online 4-H Youth Community Conversations using the National Issues Forums (NIF) model. The Kansas 4-H Youth Leadership Council is preparing for their event, Campfrence, happening June 22 & 23, 2020. Campfrence is an event for 12-14 year-olds as a transition from attending events as campers to either counselors or conference participants. This event was moved online with COVID-19, but that didn’t hold the planning committee back from developing an amazing youth-facilitated Community Conversations event. Several Youth Council members, 4-H Extension professionals, and Anthony Middle School students recently experienced the first step in their online facilitator training in May.  Almost all of these individuals experienced, and many facilitated, 4-H Youth Community Conversations at in-person events before the pandemic.

The Campfrence planning committee had all done extensive work with NIF at the Youth Council’s Citizenship in Action event in February. Thanks to the National Issues Forums and their Common Ground for Action (CGA) software, this shift to remote events has created a fantastic opportunity for Kansas 4-H to experiment with new tools for youth development. This initial training will also serve as another step in testing the inclusion of video conferencing technology. Participants will be using Zoom to receive many of the instructions from the facilitator and will continue a rich communication process with other participants as they would in an in-person deliberation. This hybrid innovation has been largely successful in early testing and is expected to be a key piece for serving youth in particular with online deliberation. Before the pandemic, many were apprehensive about services like Zoom as they seemed foreign. One of the silver linings of this time of social isolation is that a large change has occurred in much of the public’s comfort and willingness to participate in online media. It is with great excitement that this 4-H training will be conducted and experiments for process improvements continued along the way.  For more information, contact Jaryth Barten by email to jarythbarten@gmail.com.

(June 1, 2020)

ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge: K-State submits 2020 Action Plan

A campus leadership committee dedicated to increasing voter engagement at K-State was called in February by Dr. Thomas Lane, Vice President of Student Life, to work on an action plan for this election year.  Wildcats Vote, a non-partisan student organization, was joined by ICDD, the Center for Engagement and Community Development, the Division of Student Life, Office of Student Success, and Faculty Senate in a team effort to lay the strategic groundwork for three goals for the entire campus community (faculty, staff, and students: 1) Educate all on voter registration and election participation; 2) Remove barriers to election participation by focusing on low-propensity voters; and 3) Cultivate a campus culture that promotes civic engagement and political learning. The Action Plan for 2020 can be viewed along with those of other Kansas Regents Institutions at the ALL IN website.  Search participating campuses under the drop-down list for KS.

K-State's participation with ALL IN is paired with our participation in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which supplies our university with detailed data on student voter registration and turnout for national elections.  Analysis of that data demonstrates demographic differences among student voters, which will be taken into consideration during implementation of Goal #2.  The NSLVE reports for K-State are also available on the ALL IN website.  For more information, contact Donna Schenck-Hamlin by email to donnash@k-state.edu. 

(May 31, 2020)

ICDD leadership changes and new administrative home begin July 1

Effective July 1, the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy will move to its new home within the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and will be directed by Timothy Shaffer, Associate Professor of Communication Studies.  He has served as Assistant Director of ICDD since 2016. 

Dr. Shaffer brings his expertise in deliberative democracy, civic education, and group communication to grow and enrich the work of ICDD. He is associate editor of the Journal of Deliberative Democracy; research specialist with the National Institute for Civil Discourse; country expert on deliberative democracy with the Varieties of Democracy research project housed at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden; member of the Teaching, Training, and Mentoring Committee of Participedia; and a member of the Rapid Response Team of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy that developed the national Coming Together for Racial Understanding training program. He has edited four books exploring deliberative pedagogy, dialogue and deliberation in higher education, civil discourse, and civic professionalism in addition to dozens of articles and chapters. 

After serving as the founding director of ICDD since 2004, David Procter will be returning to the faculty of the Communication Studies Department, but will continue to be involved with the Institute.  Administrative support services overseen by Chandra Ruthstrom will be directed through Melissa Winkel.  The position of program manager held by Donna Schenck-Hamlin will be terminated, but Donna remains affiliated with ICDD on externally funded projects.  Email, website, calendar, and archival records will be maintained by Communication Studies staff. 

(See full next story in K-State Today, May 29, 2020)

Coronavirus related updates

ICDD Temporary Office Closure Due to COVID-19, Kansas State University plans limited operations status through the end of the semester, based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. If you need to contact the Institute for Civic Discourse and Demoracy, please email icdd@ksu.edu.  We will respond promptly to that email.

2020 Community Engagement Opportunities Fair POSTPONED - To be rescheduled following University guidance

2020 Community Engagement Symposium - Student Success and the Public Good  March 23-24 event has been rescheduled ONLINE opening April 15