Books

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Teaching and Learning

"A sophisticated and dedicated international community of scholar-educators is working to integrate deliberation into college-level education. This landmark book combines their experience, craft, and scholarship. It addresses every aspect of the topic from theory to measurement. It's an important contribution to pedagogy and to strengthening democracies."

~ Peter Levine, Associate Dean for Research, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University

"This volume provides readers with a wide variety of experiences, insights, and cautions about applying deliberative principles to higher education. There is no simple road map hidden among these pages that shows how to arrive at a more deliberative campus, but every reader will find a case study, reflection, or exhortation that provides guidance along the way."

~ John Gastil, Professor, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

“This excellent edited volume highlights the connection between education and democracy and offers innovative and engaging approach to pedagogy. The examples in this book show how faculty in a wide range of disciplines can create learning-oriented experiences where students engage in meaningful dialogue and deliberation with diverse others in their classrooms, campuses, and communities. Deliberative Pedagogy offers insights on how we can transform college classrooms into spaces for learning that prepare thoughtful, engaged global citizens.”

~ Laura Black, Associate Professor, Ohio University, and editor of Journal of Public Deliberation

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As the public purposes of higher education are being challenged by the increasing pressures of commodification and market-driven principles, Deliberative Pedagogy argues for colleges and universities to be critical spaces for democratic engagement.

The authors build upon contemporary research on participatory approaches to teaching and learning while simultaneously offering a robust introduction to the theory and practice of deliberative pedagogy as a new educational model for civic life. This volume is written for faculty members and academic professionals involved in curricular, co-curricular, and community settings, as well as administrators who seek to support faculty, staff, and students in such efforts.

The book begins with a theoretical grounding and historical underpinning of education for democracy, provides a diverse collection of practical case studies with best practices shared by an array of scholars from varying disciplines and institutional contexts worldwide, and concludes with useful methods of assessment and next steps for this work. The contributors seek to catalyze a conversation about the role of deliberation in the next paradigm of teaching and learning in higher education and how it connects with the future of democracy. Ultimately, this book seeks to demonstrate how higher education institutions can cultivate collaborative and engaging learning environments that better address the complex challenges in our global society.

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You can read reviews of Deliberative Pedagogy here, here, here, here, and here.

Civic Professionalism

"In an age when many feel hopeless, powerless, and hemmed in from all sides by invisible scripts and unseen powers, Jumping into Civic Life is an example of the liberatory power of unscripted public work. Through first-voice stories of the experiences of professionals working as citizens with their fellow citizens on divisive problems, it opens pathways of possibility toward a new understanding of democracy. Jumping into Civic Life could not be more welcome, nor more needed."

~ Harry C. Boyte, author of Awakening Democracy through Public Work: Pedagogies of Empowerment

"Is there a place for professionals in a society grown increasingly distrustful of experts? Can there be a democratic form of professionalism that empowers citizens, connects diverse publics, listens to and learns from lay people? These vital questions are at the core of this timely and inspiring book. The powerful narratives of eight innovative Extension professionals draw on a wealth of experience--with setbacks as well as triumphs, skillful improvisation as much as careful planning. Jumping into Civic Life is of immense value for anyone interested in the university's place in a democratic culture and for anyone concerned about democratic renewal."

~ Albert W. Dzur, author of Democracy Inside: Participatory Innovation in Unlikely Places

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As the public purposes of higher education are being challenged by the increasing pressures of commodification and market-driven principles, Deliberative Pedagogy argues for colleges and universities to be critical spaces for democratic engagement.

The authors build upon contemporary research on participatory approaches to teaching and learning while simultaneously offering a robust introduction to the theory and practice of deliberative pedagogy as a new educational model for civic life. This volume is written for faculty members and academic professionals involved in curricular, co-curricular, and community settings, as well as administrators who seek to support faculty, staff, and students in such efforts.

The book begins with a theoretical grounding and historical underpinning of education for democracy, provides a diverse collection of practical case studies with best practices shared by an array of scholars from varying disciplines and institutional contexts worldwide, and concludes with useful methods of assessment and next steps for this work. The contributors seek to catalyze a conversation about the role of deliberation in the next paradigm of teaching and learning in higher education and how it connects with the future of democracy. Ultimately, this book seeks to demonstrate how higher education institutions can cultivate collaborative and engaging learning environments that better address the complex challenges in our global society.

Political Discourse

"The publication of this book is a call to join with the National Institute for Civil Discourse in its mission of improving our spaces for civic dialogue. Fundamentally, I believe that to achieve the aspirations expressed in our founding documents, we must be able to engage in civil public conversations among citizens of the greatest possible diversity all across the country.”

~ Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative, from the Foreword

“A Crisis of Civility? is vital to our national dialogue on the exigency of civility in our society. In these pages, a network of prominent scholars make a compelling case for civility as the one essential mechanism for distilling the vast diversity of ideologies and opinions in America, so that we can arrive at solutions to our most pressing challenges. Today’s forces of division and proliferation of sensationalism have combined as virulent enemies of civility. Fortunately, the National Institute for Civil Discourse is leading the movement to revive civility, compromise, and consensus building. Now, we must all join the cause and remind one another that, as we debate our differences, our use of words is powerful and critically important in setting a constructive tone for the important conversations that will determine America’s future.”

~ Olympia Snowe, Senior Fellow, the Bipartisan Policy Senator; Former United States Senator

“Americans all along the political spectrum are worried about our ability to get along and develop constructive solutions for our political problems. So many of our country’s challenges are made even more difficult by a lack of opportunities to engage in civil discourse, to talk across the boundaries that can too often divide us. The chapters in this book provide clear-eyed discussions of contemporary politics that help us to understand how we got to this point and how we can work together to improve our democracy. This is essential reading for scholars, practitioners, and anyone concerned about our nation’s future.”

~ Tom Daschle, Founder and CEO, The Daschle Group; Former Senator and Senate Majority Leader

“As the media continues to cover our increasingly coarsened political, public and even private discourse, this research will be critically important to our understanding of how words can be weaponized and language can motivate violence. This book will also be invaluable as we revive the democratic norms of civility and respect. I can’t wait to share it with my colleagues.”

~ Katie Couric, former anchor and managing editor, CBS Evening News, former special correspondent, ABC News

“The best antidote for the bitter partisanship that has overtaken American public life is also the simplest: getting people of diverse viewpoints to know and listen to each other. The thoughtful chapters in this book are an invaluable addition to NICD’s effort to keep American democracy vibrant and strong.”

~ Mickey Edwards, Vice President, The Aspen Institute; Former United States Representative

“If we are serious about restoring civility, we need to know how to recognize it and what actions might improve it, how different disciplines approach the challenge, and how past civility crises have ended. This book is a treasure trove of clear thinking and analysis to guide the restoration of civil discourse.”

~ Alice M. Rivlin, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and former vice chair of the Federal Reserve

“Many Americans perceive a crisis of incivility, yet demanding civility may suppress worthy voices. If you seek insight on these and related issues, A Crisis of Civility is the best available guide, filled with thoughtful, original contributions by scholars who represent diverse perspectives and approaches.”

~ Peter Levine, Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University

"How should the fractious state of politics be understood? And what can be done about it? With contributions from an impressive array of scholars, A Crisis in Civility? surveys public perceptions of civility, details contemporary examples of incivility, and mines the past for practical solutions. It is essential reading for a time when common decency no longer seems very common."

~ Keith J. Bybee, Vice Dean and Paul E. and the Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72 Judiciary Studies Professor, College of Law, Syracuse University

“This first of its kind interdisciplinary, research-based examination of civility in politics sheds light on the importance of improving the current tenor of political discourse to enhance the wellbeing and safety of our nation. The contributing scholars also underscore the pressing need to promote understanding, tolerance and respect for the differences among us, which is a guiding principle for the field of psychology. This is a must read not only for those in politics and journalism but also for the public at large.”

~ Arthur C. Evans, Jr., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, American Psychological Association

“America has many solvable problems, and because of our dysfunctional politics, we are likely to solve few of them. This collection of essays’ by some of America’s top researchers is therefore essential. It will help readers to understand the various kinds of civility, why most of them are declining, and what we can do—as individuals and in organizations—to bring about better public discourse.”

~ Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University Stern School of Business, and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

“I don’t think a day goes by in the United States when I don’t see or read about a fracture in our civil life—whether it be a bully’s words, a politician’s accusations, or a mass murder. Make no mistake we have a crisis of civility in this country today. The National Institute for Civil Discourse was founded out of one such tragedy—the attempted assassination of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2010 by a lone shooter. In the years since then, the NCID has become the leading voice on reviving civility in our country and this collection of essays—taken together—is an urgent call to action to seek what binds us rather than what divides us. There is no more important topic to the survival of our democratic experiment.”

~ Steven Petrow, USA Today Opinion Columnist; Host, The Civilist Podcast

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The state of political discourse in the United States today has been a subject of concern for many Americans. Political incivility is not merely a problem for political elites; political conversations between American citizens have also become more difficult and tense. The 2016 presidential elections featured campaign rhetoric designed to inflame the general public. Yet the 2016 election was certainly not the only cause of incivility among citizens. There have been many instances in recent years where reasoned discourse in our universities and other public venues has been threatened.

A Crisis of Civility? was undertaken as a response to these problems. It presents and develops a more robust discussion of what civility is, why it matters, what factors might contribute to it, and what its consequences are for democratic life. The authors included here pursue three major questions: Is the state of American political discourse today really that bad, compared to prior eras; what lessons about civility can we draw from the 2016 election; and how have changes in technology such as the development of online news and other means of mediated communication changed the nature of our discourse?

This book seeks to develop a coherent, civil conversation between divergent contemporary perspectives in political science, communications, history, sociology, and philosophy. This multidisciplinary approach helps to reflect on challenges to civil discourse, define civility, and identify its consequences for democratic life in a digital age. In this accessible text, an all-star cast of contributors tills the earth in which future discussion on civility will be planted.

Dialogue and Deliberation in Higher Education

"If democracy is in trouble, higher education is in trouble, so it is encouraging to see the cast of scholars who are mounting a response. This book is a vital contribution to the emerging field of deliberative pedagogy… It is particularly encouraging to see new themes like the role of professionals in our democracy. Well done!"

~ David Mathews, Kettering Foundation

“Reaffirming higher education’s civic mission, Creating Space for Democracy issues a compelling enjoinder for colleges and universities to play a leadership role in fostering participatory democracy. Positing college and university campuses as vital sites for democratic engagement, the authors in this volume offer tools for speaking across differences, while providing innovative models for revitalizing democracy through dialogue and deliberation, both within and beyond the gates of the academy.”

~ Lynn Pasquerella, President - AAC&U

"Creating Space for Democracy edited by Nick Longo and Tim Shaffer is well-timed and hopeful in a discouraging culture of bitter divisions, growing inequalities, and rising prejudices. This collection describes a path beyond the dysfunction, detailing diverse approaches with proven success in creating public relationships across differences. It also points toward a new stage of the higher education engagement movement, preparing 'democratic professionals' who further this work. If colleges, now under political siege, engage this difficult but transformative task, they can become catalysts for a democratic awakening and a rebirth of hope."

~ Harry Boyte, Codirector Public Work Academy - Augsburg University; Author, Awakening Democracy through Public Work: Pedagogies of Empowerment

"This book does a masterful job of making the case for why high quality dialogue and deliberation are necessary in higher education if we want to ensure that students leave us well prepared to participate politically and civically. Through a diverse set of concrete examples and case studies, Creating Space for Democracy provides excellent guidance about how to create scaffolds, programs, and opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to engage in the kinds of dialogue and deliberation that are both sorely lacking and much needed. This book is a must read for if you are in higher education, care about dialogue and deliberation, and are yearning for new ideas."

~ Diana Hess, Dean - UW-Madison School of Education

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We live in divisive and polarizing times, often remaining in comfortable social bubbles and experiencing few genuine interactions with people who are different or with whom we disagree. Stepping out and turning to one another is difficult but necessary. For our democracy to thrive at a time when we face wicked problems that involve tough trade-offs it is vital that all citizens participate fully in the process. We need to learn to listen, think, and act with others to solve public problems. This collaborative task begins with creating space for democracy. This book provides a guide for doing so on campus through deliberation and dialogue.

At the most basic level, this book describes collaborative and relational work to engage with others and co-create meaning. Specifically, dialogue and deliberation are processes in which a diverse group of people moves toward making a collective decision on a difficult public issue.

This primer offers a blueprint for achieving the civic mission of higher education by incorporating dialogue and deliberation into learning at colleges and universities. It opens by providing a conceptual framework, with leading voices in the dialogue and deliberation field providing insights on issues pertinent to college campuses, from free speech and academic freedom to neutrality and the role of deliberation in civic engagement. Subsequent sections describe a diverse range of methods and approaches used by several organizations that pioneered and sustained deliberative practices; outline some of the many ways in which educators and institutions are using dialogue and deliberation in curricular, co-curricular, and community spaces, including venues such as student centers, academic libraries, and residence halls. All of the chapters, including a Resource Section, provide readers with a starting point for conceptualizing and implementing their own deliberation and dialogue initiatives.

This book, intended for all educators who are concerned about democracy, imparts the power and impact of public talk, offers the insights and experiences of leading practitioners, and provides the grounding to adopt or adapt the models in their own settings to create educative spaces and experiences that are humanizing, authentic, and productive. It is an important resource for campus leaders, student affairs practitioners, librarians, and centers of institutional diversity, community engagement, teaching excellence and service-learning, as well as faculty, particularly those in the fields of communication studies, education, and political science.

Exploratory Discussion

Rural life has significantly changed over the past 100 years. Within the United States, we seem to be experiencing the end of subsistence farming and community agricultural practices that once enabled small-scale and diversified farming to thrive. Programs that once helped to establish stability within farming communities and create a sense of boundedness through agriculture are being eliminated. In this new era of agriculture, a new set of social and economic challenges are emerging in rural communities. Some suggest that the spirit of cooperation that was present in rural communities is being replaced with forced competition.

On the other hand, the planet’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, demands for food—and the water, land, and energy necessary to produce this food— is likely to increase with pressing urgency. New farming strategies, technologies, ideas, and policies are also likely to emerge to address the challenges of farming for the future. Many suggest that we should focus on the pressing need for efficiency and not spend too much time lamenting a past era of agriculture.

These challenges invite us to wonder: What will the future of agriculture and rural life look like? What do we want it to look like? Which values inform our hopes for the future? Agri-Cuture and Future of Farming (Interactivity Foundation) explores these various policy positions and invites communities to explore the various approaches to revitalizing rural communities.

Small Group Communication

We all confront the opportunities and challenges of small group communication. Small Group Discussion Methods offers an open access introduction to the course elements that shape how people communicate and engage in small group discussion.

This book is framed around the idea that we must understand how to participate in small group communication in order to foster a more democratic way of engaging.

Government, Universities, and Citizen-Centered Discussion

Under Contract

When Democracy Had Roots: Civic Professionals, Group Discussion, and Adult Education in the Rural New Deal. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.

A in-depth study of how government, universities, community organizations, and citizens used small group discussion and civic training to respond to challenges facing rural communities and beyond. With a focus on the role of civic professionals in government roles as well as through universities through Extension, the book details an often overlooked chapter in American history when robust democratic discussion took place in urban and rural contexts.


Grassroots Engagement, Social Justice, and Cultural Competence

Under Contract

Shaffer, Timothy J. and Nia Imani Fields (Eds). (forthcoming). Striving for Grassroots Engagement and Social Justice through Cooperative Extension. East Lansing, Michigan State University Press.

This book will focus on Cooperative Extension’s history around reaching for cultural competence both organizationally and through programmatic efforts at address social justice concerns in a variety of settings and contexts. There are three significant reasons for publishing a volume on Extension at this time.

First, higher education’s role in the mind of the American public isn’t clear. Higher education’s role is to help shape and inform citizenship through the development of students as well as through engagement work on the part of academic professionals. Much of the literature about higher education’s civic mission focuses on the former rather than exploring the complexity of the latter.

Second, those within colleges and universities are often perceived as “experts” who solve problems. They fix things. This book adds to the literature on democratic professionalism, putting into conversation the identity of the Extension educator and the programmatic efforts they engage in to foster a more vibrant democratic life.

Third, surprisingly few volumes have looked at the breadth of work done under the auspices of Cooperative Extension. Over the course of Extension’s history, scholars have sought to capture the scale and scope of Extension’s work (Miller, 1973; Sanders, 1966; Seevers, Graham, & Conklin, 2007; Seevers, Graham, Gamon, & Conklin, 1997; Warner & Christenson, 1984). Yet, the contemporary challenges we face invite us to think about the ways in which the Extension system can and should play a role in addressing social and cultural challenges through the co-creation of knowledge, leveraging expertise but not being limited in the way that we think about the relationship between democracy and expertise. This is particularly important in our increasingly diverse society.

Teaching Democratic Ideals To Public Affairs Students

Bryer, T. A., Shaffer, T. J., & Unger, J. R., II. (Eds.). (under contract). Teaching Democratic Ideals to Public Affairs Students: Findings and Reflections from Diverse Course Designs. New York: Routledge.

In 2020/2021, the Kettering Foundation convened a group of public administration scholars across a set of diverse institutions in size, student demographic, and mission to jointly read, reflect on, and design whole courses or parts of courses around a book: With: Another Way of Thinking about the Relationships between People and Governing Institutions. Dr. David Mathews, president and CEO of the Kettering Foundation, is the author of this book. The intent was to assess the applicability of the text to public administration education and to also develop recommendations to enhance the inclusion and integration of democratic practices in public administration courses. This edited volume brings together fifteen professors of public administration plus staff from the Kettering Foundation to share findings from classroom experiments and reflections on the potential for applying a “with the people” framework to public administration education and practice.

Contemporary public policy challenges in communities today are recognized increasingly as wicked problems, or problems that cannot be solved by one sector or one agency of government alone. Solutions to wicked problems also require the recognition and acceptance of tradeoffs or drawbacks, which might include a cost or sacrifice for the whole of society or a subsection of society. Based on the premise that government of, by, and for the people is not sufficient to rise to and meet the challenges of today, this volume provides strategies and ideas for public administration educators across diverse environments, as well undergraduate and graduate education, to include and integrate the principles of “with the people” in public administration education and practice.