Deliberative Democracy Initiative

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 America’s Community Colleges Deepening the Deliberative Practice

In the context of polarized public discourse and widespread frustration with politics, higher education institutions have begun talking about democracy and civic engagement. However, what these institutions mean by these terms remains contested and lacking clarity, anything from community service to adversarial activism.

The Democracy Commitment (TDC) is partnering with the Kettering Foundation and the Center for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) in a multi-year initiative and research study to broaden and deepen the use of deliberative civic engagement practices among community colleges, and to investigate the following core research questions:

  • How do community colleges understand “democracy,” and why is fostering deliberation important to their democratic mission?
  • Why are community colleges interested in deliberative practices in addition to other approaches to civic engagement?
  • How are community colleges utilizing deliberative practices?
  • What is the impact of deliberative practices on the civic skills and attitudes of students?
  • What is the impact of the sustained use of deliberative practices over time on the civic life of the community?

This collaboration will begin with a workshop in October 2016 at the Kettering Foundation offices in Dayton, OH. The workshop will ask how community colleges understand “democracy” and why deliberation is important to their democratic mission; discuss results from the first year of the initiative; and introduce a new group of participants to Kettering’s research on deliberative practice.

By December of each program year, participating institutions will contract with TDC to host a workshop on deliberation and democratic organizing to be carried out during Spring 2017.  The workshops will include components on moderating, naming and framing issues, and organizing the campus and community around deliberation to deepen the practice of deliberative democracy at community colleges and around the world.


Participating TDC Member Institutions:

2015-2016 Cohort

  • CUNY Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
  • Delta College
  • Lane Community College
  • Tarrant County Community College

2016-2017 Cohort

  • College of the Canyons
  • Monroe Community College
  • Sante Fe College
  • St. Paul Community College

About Our Partners:

The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is: what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.  https://www.kettering.org

The Center for the Study of Community Colleges was established in 1974 in order to conduct original research pertaining to community college policy and practice. www.centerforcommunitycolleges.org.