Julia Chappell on Deliberative Discussions

31 Oct

A junior at Hofstra University, Julia Chappell is currently pursuing a BA in Public Relations.  In the spirit of Debate 2012, many academic departments at Hofstra offered special courses that study issues, the media, history, current affairs and political science relevant in the current election cycle.  Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, Julia enrolled in Professor Andrea Libresco’s Honors College seminar, Analyzing the 2012 Election.  Professor Libresco has incorporated three NIF forums into her syllabus, and has invited our Democracy Fellows into her classroom twice so far.  Below is Julia’s take on the two forums she has participated in, and is eager for our Fellows to return for the third forum this week!

I cannot speak highly enough about my experience with the two forums in which I participated. The forums were held in one of my classes at Hofstra University, and we discussed the topics of the national debt crisis and national security. These forums were unlike any other conversation I have had in the past, without partisan politics or pushy personal opinions. For this conversation, no matter what the participants’ knowledge was about each topic starting the conversation, everyone came out with a better understanding and appreciation of different aspects involved.

The National Issues Forums booklet lays out the issue in a way that is easy for people to understand, which I think helps ensure a successful conversation. I liked this conversation because no one had to be an expert about the issues. We were all speaking to the same material, while bringing our own personal examples and knowledge of subject.

Hearing different opinions about the topics helped me solidify my own views, while making me more open to others. Having these discussions made me feel more like an educated citizen and more prepared to vote. These short discussions informed me more about the issues than hours of watching the news.

I hope more people continue to participate in these forums and leave feeling aware and engaged about the issues currently facing our nation. Framing the issues without partisan ties allows people to develop their own understanding while finding common ground with others, which is what democracy is all about.



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