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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Tim Shaffer Joins ICDD

A look around Tim Shaffer’s office reveals shelves upon shelves of lengthy textbooks. Shaffer, Assistant Professor of communication studies, estimates the majority of them contain “deliberation” or “democracy” in the title. He’s read each and every one.

This year, Shaffer will be taking on a new role which will further expand on his experiences with the subject of deliberative democracy. He’s the new Assistant Director for the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD), which is housed in the Center for Engagement and Community Development (CECD).

Shaffer’s interest in deliberative democracy began during his career as an undergrad. “I studied theology and philosophy as an undergraduate, and I was really interested in social justice,” said Shaffer. “I was involved in a lot of social justice work, and then from that building more into the area of… university community engagement field, but as I was doing that, I became aware of the field of public deliberation.”

K-State’s work in particular sparked Shaffer’s interest. “A large part of what drew me to K-State was in fact the work that has been going on through ICDD, and the communication studies department as well,” said Shaffer. “I was first familiar with ICDD and (Director) David Procter’s work… when I was a graduate student. I was on a project that was kind of looking at the ways that land grant universities and extension were doing community-based work using deliberative approaches.”

“This (public deliberation) is a growing field,” said Shaffer. He cited several examples across the world ranging from Brazil’s pioneering work with participatory budgeting to Massachusetts’ community engagement effort following a bombing as methods of effective deliberative democracy.

Shaffer’s goals for ICDD are to act as the bridge between the Dialogue, Deliberation, and Public Engagement (DDPE) graduate certificate and the communication studies department.

Additionally, Shaffer is one of the associate editors for the Journal of Public Deliberation, a journal which used to be housed at K-State up until 2013. The journal is peer reviewed “with the principal objective of synthesizing the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the multi-disciplinary field of ‘deliberative democracy,’” according to the website.

Shaffer’s teachings also emphasize the importance of public deliberation. He currently teaches COMM 326: Small Group Discussion Methods at the undergraduate level, and COMM 630: Public Deliberation, Communication, and Participation at the graduate level.

Next spring, Shaffer will also be working on turning COMM 545: Communication and Democracy into a deliberative facilitative training course.