Colorado State University’s Center for Public Deliberation (www.cpd.colostate.edu) will be hosting its first moderator training workshop Aug. 2-Aug. 4.
The workshop focuses on providing participants with the background and skills necessary to convene and moderate National Issues Forum-style public forums (visit www.nifi.org for more information). While the workshop will use NIF material, the skills learned are relevant in other areas. NIF is a nationally recognized nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping our democracy work by building civic capacity, helping train moderators and providing impartial information on key issues to help communities learn new strategies for communication. NIF forums focus on helping people of diverse views find common ground for action on issues that concern them deeply.
The training will be free of charge; space is limited. The workshop will take place from 6:30-9 p.m. Aug. 2 with a welcome and a practice forum. The workshop will continue 1-5 p.m. Aug. 3 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 4. Primary faculty facilitating the workshop will include Martn Carcasson, director of the center and assistant professor in Colorado State’s Speech Communication Department, and Taylor Willingham, an experienced NIF moderator and trainer who is the director of Texas Forums, which operates out of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas (www.texasforums.org).
To reserve a spot in the workshop or if you have questions, contact Carcasson at (970) 491-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org. People interested in the workshop but unavailable on the listed dates may contact Carcasson, who will keep an "interested" list for future workshops.
"If there is sufficient demand, the Center for Public Deliberation may hold an additional workshop in the fall and/or spring," Carcasson said. "Typically, we plan on hosting workshops at least once a year."
The NIF-style involves a two-hour forum structured around walking participants through three to four approaches to dealing with a public problem, all moderated by an impartial facilitator. Depending on the topic and the degree of connection to decision makers, forums may focus on learning about the issue, learning about fellow participants and their perspectives, uncovering potential individual actions, or influencing institutional action.
This workshop is geared to training citizens to be able to develop and host such forums on their own. Many use this training and prepared NIF issue books at community forums or develop similar material for topics of their own particular interest (the NIF Web site also has examples of locally developed "issue books;" see http://www.nifi.org/discussion_guides/guides.aspx?catID=15).
The non-partisan Center for Public Deliberation was founded in August 2006 within the Speech Communication Department at Colorado State. Working as an affiliate of the National Issues Forum network, the center will organize and host many events in the coming years. Working from a communication perspective, center’s staff and students focus on the process of deliberation, not necessarily its product. Deliberation requires safe places for citizens to come together, good and fair information to help structure the conversation, and skilled facilitators to guide the process. The center is dedicated to providing these three key ingredients to Northern Colorado.
The primary work of the center is completed by Colorado State undergraduates who have gone through workshops similar to the one being offered in August. If interested, community members who complete the center’s workshop can inquire about becoming official "Community Associates" at the center and can work with center staff and students on various local projects.