“Shaping Our Future” National Dialogue Launches Tomorrow!

As you may know, the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), in association with the American Commonwealth Partnership, is launching their latest year-long national dialogue, Shaping Our Future, with an event at the National Press Club in DC tomorrow morning (Sept 4th). This initiative encourages students, faculty, administrators, employers, and members of the general public to reflect on how colleges and universities might help the country tackle some of its most vexing problems.

Tomorrow’s kick-off event, which will be streamed live online, will include info about forums now being planned on campuses and in communities nationwide. (Tweet about it using the hashtags #nif and #ncdd so we can chat about it in the morning!)

Along with the launch, NIFI is making the digital version of the “Shaping Our Future” issue guide available free online from the NIF website. Go to this link to download the issue guide, moderator’s guide, a flyer you can use to promote your forum, and more.

NCDD is supporting this initiative by encouraging all of you to host a forum! NIF and ADP would love to see many of you involved, and have prepared a great little document to help you get started: So You Want To Hold A Forum About “Shaping Our Future”?

If you’re interested in holding a forum on how colleges and universities might help the country tackle some of its most vexing problems, you can contact Bill Muse of NIF ([email protected]) or Harry Boyte of ACP ([email protected]) to let them know you’d like to get involved. And let NCDD director Sandy Heierbacher know by email that you plan to get involved; we’d love to know!

About the “Shaping Our Future” National Dialogue

If you haven’t had the opportunity to learn about Shaping Our Future, you’ll find a lot of links below with details. For an overview, here’s NIFI’s description of the dialogues…

Are you concerned about the rising cost of higher education? Are the nation’s colleges and universities dong a good job preparing students for the future? How does higher education benefit society as a whole?

Would you like to participate in a discussion on this topic? If so, you can organize a forum or join one using the issue guide, Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?, that has been developed by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) in association with the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP). Free copies of the guide can be downloaded from the NIFI website, where there is further information about the National Issues Forums deliberation process, along with additional materials to help you promote this crucial conversation in your community.

This new issue guide will be used in many public deliberative forums in the coming year as part of a national conversation about how higher education can help us create the kind of society we want. In partnership with the National Issues Forums Institute, the American Commonwealth Partnership launched a national discussion on higher education’s role in America’s future. The discussions in communities and on campuses began in April 2012, and will continue through the year.

…and the organizers have prepared the following video to provide a comprehensive overview…

Watch Online – September 4, 2012 Launch of a National Dialogue about Higher Education

The launch event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC will feature several speakers and, fortunately for those of us not attending, be streamed live online from 9am to 11am Eastern. The speaker list is impressive — including Martha Kanter, the U.S. Undersecretary of Education, Nancy Cantor, the Chancellor of Syracuse University and Muriel Howard, President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities — along with a host of leaders and representatives of the organizations joining together to make this national dialogue initiative a reality. Simple registration is required to participate and more information, including a full speaker list, can be found on the NIF website here.

Message from Harry Boyte about Upcoming September 4th Launch of “Shaping Our Future” National Dialogue

In preparation for the upcoming event, Harry Boyte, National Coordinator for the American Commonwealth Partnership, shared a message on the NIF website last week outlining the goals and needs of the project, encouraging members of the greater dialogue community to share the news about this initiative. He also took a moment to contemplate citizenship education, from his post

In the run up to the January 10th Washington convening “Democracy’s Future,” and the launch of ACP, anticipating a year of deep polarization, I was struck again and again by how much we need a vast process of citizenship education if we are to overcome the dysfunctional politics which has gripped the nation. We used the White House event to showcase examples of citizenship education for a different kind of politics: the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Northern Arizona University, and Western Kentucky University. Here’s the White House YouTube video with their stories.

Remembering my own experiences in the citizenship schools of the civil rights movement (“the best-kept secret of the civil rights movement,” described in Dorothy Cotton’s forthcoming book, If Your Back’s Not Bent, to be released, by coincidence, on September 4) brought to mind the importance of making visible parallels today. The Huffington Post blog has proven a useful vehicle to highlight other examples of “citizenship schools for the 21st century” at Syracuse University, the University of Iowa, Augsburg College, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Winona State University, and across Minnesota in the Minnesota United campaign. There are many other stories, at all sorts of institutions and community sites (HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, community colleges, K-12 schools, as well as research universities), and we hope to use the blog to make them visible.

We hope to see many NCDDers involved in this important initiative!

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