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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Participate in a public conversation

Public conversations are organized for a wide variety of reasons.  Topics arise from situations or conditions that people want to change, and sometimes from a need to simply connect and learn more about one another. Many names are given to public conversation events - for example "forum", "dialogue", "town hall meeting".  They are as varied as their organizers and issues, and you may not find every event by those names to be equally "participatory" - that is, giving all who enter an opportunity to contribute as well as listen to others attending.  We favor those events that involve more interaction among all attendees, but often that can be initiated by a speaker, a film, a panel, or some other "launch" to discussion.  

"What's it about?" and "Who's calling for the conversation?" are two valid questions to ask when you look at opportunities to participate.  ICDD urges convening groups to be transparent about who they are, with links if possible to mission statements and persons who can be contacted for more information.  Titles are designed to frame the issue and attract participation.  Go with what interests you, and expect and explore a diversity of other views, regardless of the topic.  

"Who in the public is this for?" may be another question that arises when you look for public conversations.  The topic may seem to be directed at issues faced by specific groups or populations, yet the event is free and open to the general public.  Most public issues affect a wide range of stakeholders in the public, so if the invitation is general, take it at face value.  There are occasions when organizers on a public issue prefer to address specific group enclaves on a small scale.  For example "youth leadership" events directed at teens may be focused on communication by and for that age-group.  The description of the event typically makes that clear.

Below are some examples of recent public conversations organized by ICDD Associates and Affiliates.     

Conversation     ConvenerInvitation
Citizenship in ActionKS 4-H Youth DevelopmentEnclave
Who Are We? The World in ManhattanCommunity Conversations on Race and ReconciliationPublic
Solve Climate by 2030K-State - CESASPublic
Wildcat District Community HealthK-State ExtensionEnclave


For upcoming opportunities, visit our posts of local Events or follow our Facebook page.

Are you interested in facilitating or convening a conversation? Email ICCD@k-state.edu