About the Project

Before and after the 2012 elections, community members and students throughout Long Island are coming together to discuss major public policy issues that affect each and every one of us.

These “town meeting” forums emphasize deliberation (as practiced by juries) rather than debate, as a way to foster “a different kind of talk; another way to act.” True democracy is not simply two voices debating for the country to observe, but a process that requires active participation from all of us.  Deliberative decision making is particularly important for those problems in which communities as a whole have to act because no one group or institution can solve the problem alone.

Our non-partisan trained moderators from Hofstra University will help facilitate these conversations with the aid of National Issues Forums Issue Guides from the Kettering Foundation.  Issues Guides do just that, they help guide us through issues by presenting an overall problem and then three or four broad approaches to said problem. These forums provide a way for people of diverse views and experiences to seek a shared understanding of an issue and to search for common ground for action.

Forum participants work through the problem by considering each approach; examining what appeals to them or concerns them, and also what the costs, consequences, and trade offs may be that would be incurred in following that approach. As participants take in the experiences of others, they often are able to redefine the problems that confront them.  As such, their understanding of the problem broadens, becoming more comprehensive and nuanced.  This process and enhanced understanding leads people to identify new approaches, political actors, resources, etc. that had not been recognized before, and new innovative ways of solving the problem can emerge.   Deliberation helps add a public voice (a synthesis of many voices) to our political discourse.

Some of the NIF Issues Guides we will use include:

Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?

Immigration in America:  How Do We Fix a System in Crisis?

Regaining American Prosperity: Building an Economy That Works for Everyone

A Nation in Debt: How Can We Pay the Bills?

Economic Security: How Should We Take Charge of Our Future?

Youth and Violence: Reducing the Threat

America’s Role in the World: What Does National Security Mean in the 21st Century?

We cannot afford to have a nation of spectators; we invite you to the discussions!


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