A National Issues Forum for your Community Organization?

Dear Long Island leader,

I am working with a group of extraordinary Hofstra students in a 2012 project for our Center for Civic Engagement.  We are in the process of conducting 100 deliberative, nonpartisan forums as part of a national study.  Several of these undergraduates have been named “Herman Goldman Foundation Democracy Fellows.”

As you may know, Hofstra University has been selected for the 2nd consecutive election to host a Presidential Debate (October 16, 2012).  We have received support from several foundations to report on the forums that we conduct.

I hope that our topics are of interest. I would be glad to assign one or more of our teams to facilitate a forum for your group.  The forum must last at least 90 minutes (and could extend to two hours).  We usually prefer a group of 15 to 18 to meet with our co-moderators.  But we will accommodate larger numbers if you prefer that (better still, would be to divide folks into segments of the smaller numbers indicated above).  We have done as many as 7 simultaneous forums (of 18 in a group) at one location (just need to take account of space needs).

Here are the National Issues topics we are presenting:

1)    “America’s Role in the World: What Does National Security Mean in the 21st Century”

2)    “A Nation In Debt: How Can We Pay the Bills?”

3)    “Economic Security: How Should We Take Charge of Our Future?”

4)    “Immigration in America: How Do We Fix a System in Crisis?”

5)    “Regaining American Prosperity: Building an Economy that Works for Everyone”

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

7)    “Youth and Violence: Reducing the Threat”

Our very brief Issue Guides are prepared by the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute ( in a nonpartisan way.  We will provide an Issue Guide for each of your participants, asking that they bring it to the discussion session.  Our “Fellows” will foster an interactive discussion.  At the end of the deliberation, each person will be asked to respond (anonymously) to a brief questionnaire.  There is no fee for the guides or for the program (contributions to the Hofstra Center for Civic Engagement are welcomed).

At least one of our Faculty mentors (often me, as well) will accompany our “Herman Goldman Foundation Democracy Fellows,” who will be the moderators for the forums.

I will make arrangements with Libraries and organizations on a first-come basis until our available dates are filled.  We have already done more than 20 forums and are eager to continue scheduling into mid-October.


Michael D’Innocenzo

To arrange a forum, or to discuss the program, contact:

Michael D’Innocenzo


phone: History Department at Hofstra (516) 463-5606


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