Deliberative Dialogue Research

In Access to Democracy: Attitude Change, Policy Impact, and Universities’ Role in the Deliberative Dialogue Process, prepared for the Kettering Foundation, National Forum researchers consider the link between the public and higher education institutions. Thanks to several grants by the Kettering Foundation and its partner organization, the Council on Public Policy Education (CPPE), this is achieved through an in-depth evaluation of the Access to Democracy project.

The Access to Democracy project is a statewide initiative intended to engage students, civic leaders, and community members in dialogues on the issues of access and quality in higher education. The overarching purpose of this initiative is to improve access to higher education through changes at both the policy level as well as at the individual and community levels. In order to achieve this goal, community dialogues were held throughout the state of Michigan in order to increase public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of these issues. Then, the information obtained through these dialogues – along with detailed, localized information about educational attainment and economic prosperity – was used through various means to inform policy decisions throughout the
state.

The report for the Kettering Foundation begins with detailed analysis of the impact of the forums on citizens understanding of the problem and on how they organize public work around the problem. It also discusses how officials understand what citizens report from the dialogues and how they interpret and use this information. Then, it looks at the impact of the dialogues on Michigan higher education institutions, and discusses the insights gained on community-university partnerships from the experience of facilitating deliberation in communities in Michigan.

The National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good is a Public Policy Institute of the Kettering Foundation/CPPE and a member of the National Issues Forum Network.

Theme in Action & Research: Deliberative Dialogue