The following is a reflection by David Mathews, president of the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio.
From time to time, the Kettering Foundation updates its research or restates its findings to prevent misperceptions of what its studies show. For example, some may mistakenly characterize the kind of public deliberation modeled in NIF forums as one of several techniques used to facilitate small group discussions or as a tool for decision making unrelated to action or resolving conflicts. Of course, people use the NIF issue books for many different purposes, and that includes those who are only interested in policy education, which is fine. Still, the NIF books are based on a design taken from two sources: how people today actually make collective decisions in the face of disagreements about how to act and how deliberation has been described in many civilizations dating back thousands of years.