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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Community Conversations: Re-imagining Spaces in 901 Poyntz for USD383

ICDD convened a four-part conversation series last January - February addressing potential community uses of spaces within the current Campus East Manhattan High School after the 9th. grade class joins the West Campus.  A team of ICDD facilitators and recorders organized the inquiry with 77 residents participating on-line and in-person, following opportunities to tour the first floor kitchen, cafeteria, and two classrooms under consideration.  The Project Report to the Board of Education by  coordinators Tim Shaffer and Donna Schenck-Hamlin documents the discussion process and suggested uses that emerged.  On May 4 the Board of Education will consider the findings at their 6:30 public meeting in the Robinson Center, accessible from the USD383 YouTube channel. 

The predominant uses for space that were advocated throughout the series were focused on food, social services, and arts/creative activities. Recognizing the central location and community significance of the historical site, it's role as a gathering place for multiple generations was affirmed, while each discussion acknowledged the challenges of coordinating resources, finances, and scheduling for a multi-purpose educational facility.  Participants in these discussions included several community organizations as well as members of the MHS Civic Engagement Club and Alumni Organization, who encouraged on-going discussions and oral history opportunities. Read more on the project.

April - August is now Primary Election Season!

Since 2020, Wildcats Vote, a non-partisan student organization, has promoted the second Tuesday in April as Kansas Voter Registration Day, to alert Kansans to upcoming primary elections held in August.  Given how low turnout to these critical elections has been historically, ICDD joins Wildcats Vote in encouraging all eligible voters to check their voter registration and make a plan before summer vacation scheduling, so that they don't fail to participate.  

For students moving out: it's vital to decide where and when to cast your ballot this summer.  Advance ballots can be requested and early walk-in voting is encouraged, but you need to verify where your polling place is and the Kansas county election office for your address.

The Secretary of State website offers online access to registering, and using a smart phone you can also quickly register at KSVOTES.ORG Both will show you your polling place and allow you to update your name, address, and party affiliation.  Read more about voter registration and engagement.

Shaffer Presents at International Political Discourse Webinar

Institute for Civil Discourse and Democracy Director Timothy J. Shaffer, PhD was a panelist alongside Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography and Su Moore, Chief Executive, Jo Cox Foundation in a moderated discussion about political discourse facilitated by Tony Connelly, RTE Europe Correspondent.

The political discourse webinar on January 25, 2022,12 noon (GMT) 13h00 CET (Brussels) included discussion about how to strengthen democracy and the conditions for reconciliation through the practice of ethical and respectful political discourse and explore questions such as:

  • How critical is ethical and respectful political discourse to the future of democracy? To the future of Europe? To building reconciliation locally and globally?
  • What policy and regulatory frameworks and what policy initiatives and networks support more ethical and respectful political discourse?
  • How can ethical and respectful political discourse be the norm and what role do political parties, civil society and the media have in this regard?

The event was cosponored by the Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation and the John and Pat Hume Foundation.


K-State Student Voting Up in 2020 National Elections!

Kansas State University reported that student voting on its campus increased significantly in last year’s presidential election, rising to 67% in 2020 from a rate of 45% in 2016. Read the full campus report.

ICDD, along with all of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge team, is committed to active and informed citizenship.  These numbers reflect a concerted effort across the university to engage students and faculty in voter registration, despite the challenges of the pandemic. Significantly, the rate at which registered student voters from K-State actually voted in the 2020 election reached 78%, an increase of 18% from 2016. 

This report comes from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE), creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE. IDHE is located at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.

Nationwide, the study’s authors report a record-breaking set of findings. On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66% in last year’s presidential election. The 14 percentage point increase, from 52% turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”

At K-State, a student-led initiative led to Kansas Voter Registration Day, a spring semester complement to the September National Voter Registration Day, and a mid-term reminder for students to be ready for summer primaries and update their addresses in the voter registration rolls.

IDHE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE, pronounced n-solve) is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and at this time, nearly 1,200 campuses of all types—community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women’s colleges, state universities, and private institutions—participate. The dataset reflects all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes 49 of the nation’s 50 flagship schools. IDHE uses de-identified student records to ensure student privacy. The 2020 dataset is robust with 8,880,700 voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities.

Vote in Local Elections by Tuesday!  

Advance voting is already underway, but if you prefer to wait until November 2, be sure to verify your poll location. Use the KSVOTES.ORG app or the Secretary of State website and double-check your registration in case you have had an address or name change.

4H Youth Expand Facilitation Skills and Engagement

Stories Matter is an Extension 4H youth development project built from a series of successful training and public engagement events. Participating in Conversation Bootcamp establishes the norms and best practices of public conversation facilitation.  With training, 4H youth from across Kansas have offered Community Conversations on public policy issues using National Issues Forums (NIF) discussion protocols.  Several events, including a ground-breaking deliberative approach to the annual Citizenship in Action at the state capital in 2020, are led by 4H facilitators using NIF methods.  Another mode of facilitation being learned and applied in 4H to community conversations is Visual Thinking Strategies (watch demonstration), where participants are asked a series of questions while viewing art as a way to encourage multiple interpretations and thoughtful listening.  The Stories Matter sequence has grown under the leadership of Aliah Mestrovich Seay, 4-H Youth Development Specialist for Community Vitality and ICDD's Extension Liaison. Read more on youth leading community discussions on difficult topics

(November 12, 2020)

Put Yourself on the Map  

Are you a facilitator with skills to offer communities in need of productive conversation?  Add your profile to the Kansas Civic Life Project, which aims to bring communities together with civic professionals capable of facilitating what might sometimes be rather difficult discussions. The map is a directory that demonstrates the breadth of civic discourse skills across our state.  Enlarge your own contacts by consulting this map, and inquire into modes of conversation that you can learn and experience.

KCPL map