ASSOCIATION OF CENTERS FOR THE STUDY OF CONGRESS
Deliberative forums are nonpartisan and do not advocate a particular perspective or solution to any public issue. Instead they allow diverse groups of citizens to determine together what direction they want to take, what kinds of actions and policies they favor or oppose, and what they are able to do, individually and as a community.For a public deliberation forum in your institution’s programming, you may download copies of A Discussion Guide for Community Dialogue and the support booklet—A Guide for Forum Conveners and Moderators—on the topic The Divided State of America: How can we get work done even when we disagree?.
The 30-page issue guide, The Divided State of America?, was published by ACSC in 2015. This issue guide gives three options for participants to deliberate around the issue of How can we get work done even when we disagree?. From the guide… “Many Americans are concerned that our differences are preventing us from tackling the serious public problems we face in our communities and nation. Political observers say we’re more polarized now than we’ve been since the Civil War. People in communities say they feel increasingly discounted, segregated and excluded based on their beliefs. This discussion guide explores ways we can get work done even when we disagree. It offers three options as starting points for the dialogue. Although not mutually exclusive, the options reflect different ways of thinking about the problem.”
The 35-page moderators’ guide for The Divided State of America?, was published by ACSC in 2016. This moderator’s guide provides a road map for convening and moderating a successful national issues forum for community deliberation.
In 2011, the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) and the Kettering Foundation entered an agreement that ACSC would coordinate and Kettering would fund a project to establish National Issues Forums through various ACSC-member congressional centers. This initial phase of the project provided a task force of representatives from nine congressional centers with training in convening and moderating national issue forums for public deliberation.
The following year, ACSC and Kettering entered a second collaborative project (Phase II) to name and frame the congressional centers’ own issue for public deliberation. Seven of the nine centers represented in the original project with Kettering Foundation made three-year commitments to the Phase II project—Carl Albert Center for Congressional Studies, John Joseph Moakley Archive and Institute, Claude Pepper Library, W. R. Poage Legislative Library, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, South Carolina Political Collections, and John Stennis Center for Public Service.The two-project partnership with Kettering Foundation fulfills an ACSC goal to provide its member institutions training and experience in establishing civic engagement programs that foster public deliberation on important issues that come before Congress and the nation. This activity not only furthers the study of Congress, the primary mission of ACSC, it also promotes representative democracy and unity in the association to accomplish together what its members cannot as individual centers.