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What are National Issues Forums?
National Issues Forums bring people together to talk about important issues. No two forums are exactly alike. They range from small forums or study circles held in people's homes to large community gatherings modeled on New England town meetings. Each forum focuses on a specific issue such as illegal drugs, Social Security, or juvenile crime.

Where and when are these forums held?
NIF forums are held in communities across the country. They are convened by a wide variety of non-partisan, non-profit and locally financed groups of individuals. This includes libraries, high schools, community colleges, women's groups, literacy councils, churches and synagogues, labor unions, civic clubs, and many others. This site provides information on how you can start an NIF forum in your community, and a calendar of forums around the country.

What is the goal of National Issue Forums?
The purpose of these forums is to help people of diverse views find common ground for action on issues that concern them deeply.

What makes these forums different from debates or other discussion groups?
NIF forums are structured discussions, led by trained moderators, using nonpartisan issue discussion guides. Participants examine and weigh several possible ways to address a problem. They analyze each approach and the arguments for and against it. Moderators encourage participants to think not only as individuals but as members of a community.

What happens after the forums?
The results of the forums may be shared with national and local leaders. In addition, citizens who have attended a forum may decide to work together to address problems in their community.

What if I don't know much about the issue?
The forums and discussion guides are designed to help you learn about the issues. No one needs to be an expert to participate. It is more important to be able to listen and share your ideas.

Who decides which issues will be discussed?
Each NIF group decides locally which issues it will take to citizen forums. In addition, every year members of the NIF network across the country suggest three or four issues that they would like to see discussed by citizens. You can suggest an issue for future discussion guide development.

Where can I go to learn more about how to moderate National Issues Forums?
Some groups and organizations around the country hold workshops where people can learn more about convening and moderating National Issues Forums - these are sometimes referred to as Public Policy Institutes (PPIs). Workshops are listed on our calendar page. Some workshops also offer instruction in the fundamentals of framing issues (IFWs) for deliberation. Read "Public Policy Institutes: Where It All Begins" from The Deliberator magazine.

Where can I download NIF logos?
You can download NIF logos for use on web sites or printed materials on our downloads page.

For more information, call us at 1-800-433-7834, or e-mail Glenda Rose.

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