NIFI News

Subscribe to receive blog notifications by logging in and going to the account subscriptions page

August 26, 2014 - Join an Online Forum about Immigration Policy in America

(This invitation is from Bill Corbett, williamgcorbett@verizon.net , of the National Issues Forums of Northern Virginia, and organizer of this upcoming, online forum.)

Join the Online Forum

I'm writing today about a new experiment to involve more people in political life, an online National Issues Forum.

It takes place Tuesday August 26 at 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm EDT.  All you need to participate is a web browser and the willingness to use chat for conversation.

Read more

"The best two hours of the semester..."

The following guest bloggers, Emerson Murphy, Stuart Watts, Pierre-Emmanuel Thomas, Jill Bolak, Xan Hall, and Colden Franklin share their insights and experiences using deliberation to engage some difficult public issues during coursework with professor Gregg Kaufman, M.Div. Th.M.  at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia.

by Emerson Murphy
November 25, 2013

Read more

Guest Post by Neil Wollman, Ph.D, Bentley University - "Facing Gridlock, A Bold Proposal for Democracy"

I hope that the piece below will lead to good dialogue, political efforts, and finally to implementation of the suggested policy change. It is by projects such as the National Issues Forums (NIF) that we will have a public informed enough to make the proposed citizen initiative/referendum system work well. As a matter of fact, if citizens engage in such dialogue, maybe they have a right to more direct say in governmental decision making! It is encouraging that Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado recently decided to promote the establishment of a commission to study the feasibility of national initiatives. It is a good first step, but it will require informed  public discussion. See more information on citizens’ initiatives and direct democracy at

Read more

Bob Daley: 50 Years with the National Press Club

Bob Daley, a long time veteran of public engagement work, and a journalist, was featured in a Dayton Daily News article on January 16, 2013. The following is excerpted from the article:

Bob Daley became a copy boy for the Dayton Journal-Herald when reporters wrote stories with manual typewriters and pasted copies of stories with flour and water. Throughout the years, Daley has been a copy boy, political reporter, press secretary, assistant to the governor, and director of public affairs. He's also always retained his membership with the National Press Club. A few months ago, the Washington Twp. man was honored for his 50-year membership with the National Press Club.

Read more

Offering an Alternative to Polarized Debate - "How Can We Stop Mass Shootings in Our Communities?"

(The following is by Brad Rourke, Kettering Foundation program officer and executive editor of issue guides.)

On Friday, February 1, 2013, National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) released an Issue Advisory that contains materials that communities might wish to use in deliberating over the issues raised by the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut in December last year. It's not a full issue guide, but a basic outline of the options, entitled How Can We Stop Mass Shootings in Our Communities? It’s available here.

Developing the framework for this issue posed challenges. In the first place, the issue is raw, happening now, and strikes deep emotional chords. This can make it hard to deliberate -- which requires that people face the downsides of their favored actions. In emotional situations, this can be difficult. A good issue framework will make it easier for people to get past their reactions and begin to make judgments together -- to weigh options.

Read more

Preventing Mass Shootings - How Should We Help the Public Work on this Problem?

by Patty Dineen

The December, 2012 shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut re-ignited public talk about what "we" as individuals, and especially, what "we" as a society should do about it.  Can we do anything to prevent the next one?  Can we identify likely future shooters? Can we make public places safer without turning such places into prison-like settings?  Would we have to give up some cherished personal freedoms in order to get the results we seek?  These and many other questions are being asked, discussed, debated, and argued about.

This public issue--what can, and what should we do to prevent this kind of violence?--as we all know, is presently being framed by many entities; media, interest groups, government, experts, and individuals in all segments of our society.  You might think that would be enough, but we don't think it is. The National Issues Forums Institute has a 32-year-long interest in a particular kind of issue framing; that is, framing a public issue in a way that can help people deliberate; or carefully consider a spectrum of approaches to dealing with the issue.  Deliberation also requires unflinching consideration of the possible consequences, costs, and tradeoffs inherent of each approach.

Read more

Citizenship as Education, by Jim Strickland

The foundation of democracy is the very human act of just talking with each other...This kind of citizenship is the most transformative kind of education there is.  You cannot emerge unchanged because continuous and responsible change is the name of the game. 

The term “public education” can be understood in a couple of different ways.  One common meaning is related to its funding source.  Public education is education that is publicly funded, as in our public schools and other publicly financed educational programs.

Another meaning of public education, however, is related to its primary purpose.  In this view, public education refers to our intentional efforts to create a public – that is, a body of citizens who have the inclination and the capacity to participate in the ongoing and responsible practice of self-government.  This broader understanding of public education encompasses the work done by our public schools, but extends far beyond them to include the institutions and political, economic, and social structures of the larger community.

Read more

Watch and Share Your Comments - Shaping Our Future, Launching a National Conversation about the Public Purposes of Higher Education

Watch the Video
Muriel Howard, President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, spoke during the "Shaping Our Future" launch at the National Press Club

We hope you will watch the video and share your comments, questions, and feedback.

You can now watch the video (approximately 2 hrs.) recorded during the September 4, 2012 launch of Shaping Our Future: How Can Higher Education Help Us Create the Future We Want? - A national conversation about the public purposes of higher education.   Through this initiative, students, faculty, administrators, employers, and members of the general public are invited to reflect on how colleges and universities might help the country tackle some of its most vexing problems. Shaping Our Future is organized by the American Commonwealth Partnership and the National Issues Forums.

Read more

Pages