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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.



Rocking, Rolling, and Registering!

17 Sep

Summer time is coming to an end, but our project is kicking into high gear!  Joined by Daniel Altschuler from the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, a non-partisan coalition of grassroots organizations working to increase civic participation in working-class communities of color in Suffolk County, NY, our fellows received voter registration training and a chance to learn more about LICET’s work this past Thursday.  In addition to Daniel’s talk, our fellows discussed personal and communal goals for the project and ways of achieving them.  Below is the product of our brainstorm!

Leadership Skills

Building Compassion

Rekindling Democratic Spirit

Importance of Participation

Restoration of Faith in Democracy

Learn Objectivity



Breaking Down Polarization

What are people already thinking about issues?

Inform Ways to Empower


Discovering Values


Becoming Better Student Leaders

High School Engagement

Politics Are Not a Spectator Sport—ENGAGE

Multiple Ways of Problem Solving

Learn and Share Perspectives

Community Building

Student Teaching

Learning Together

Widen Conversation

Foster an Equal Playing Field

More Educated Discourse

Broaden Perspective


Voting on Issues, Not Party Lines

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History in the Making at Hofstra

16 Aug

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced this Monday that CNN’s Candy Crowley will moderate the second presidential debate here at Hofstra!  Ms. Crowley is the first woman in twenty years to moderate a presidential debate, and we are happy to report that this historical event will be taking place on our campus.

NPR reported Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel, three teenage girls from a Montclair, N.J., high school, had petitioned the commission to include a woman among the presidential debate moderators.

“Women were being overlooked, and while it might not have been an active prejudice, it was definitely there,” Axelrod told NPR’s All Things Considered on Monday. “So, the fact that now we’re closing that gap of 20 years, that is what I’m excited that a woman will bring, the equal representation.”  Axelrod reported that the group’s petitions gathered more than 180,000!

CNN’s Candy Crowley at a Mitt Romney campaign event during the Iowa caucuses in January
(Photo Credit: David Holloway/CNN)

The last woman to moderate a presidential debate was ABC’s Carole Simpson in 1992. Gwen Ifill of PBS moderated vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.

How Is Long Island Deepening Democracy?

1 Apr

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

Led by trained moderators from Hofstra University, a National Issues Forum is coming to a library or high school near you!

7 Months +  100 Forums + 26 Democracy Fellows + Hundreds of NIF Issue Guides + Thousands of Community Members


Long Island Deepening Democracy Through Deliberation