During the early founding of our nation, citizens were expected to participate in shaping community life. However, in the last decades people have become farther removed from civic life. Public life has become synonymous with politics, which are increasingly polarized. People perceive that governments are the source of solutions for difficult problems that plague our nation and communities, yet solutions seem almost impossible. Across the nation, centers for civic life are experiencing success in reconnection people with a civic mission, engaging them in discovering their own solutions and bringing those solutions to pass. They are encouraging citizens to work collaboratively with governmental agencies to produce solutions.
What is the Center for Civic Life at Ashland University?
The center strives to involve citizens in deliberating issues of concern and in developing and initiating solutions for their communities. Through this effort, Ashland University will education people in the region about civic life and engage them in deliberative practices that allow them to meet needs in their communities and to shape their communities' future.
What does the Center for Civic Life Do?
The Center for Civic Life works with both the campus and community to bring citizens into deliberation on public issues by:
- Hosting/co-hosting public forums on issues of common interest.
- Following up with groups who are working on solutions.
- Consulting with and conducting workshops for organizations, schools, agencies and departments on issues of importance internally or externally.
- Working with classes and faculty to teach processes on deliberation.
- Providing opportunities for Ashland University student to participate in and lead forums.
- Conducting research related to deliberative democracy and citizen action.
Goals of the Center
- To teach deliberative practices by conducting forums and workshops at the University and in the community
- To empower citizens to discover and initiate their own solutions to issues
- To publish research related to deliberative democracy and citizen action
Facilitated public forums, including
- Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?
- A Nation in Debt: How Can We Pay the Bills?
- Prescription Drug Abuse: A Problem Hiding in Plain Sight?
- Stimulating the Economy of Loudonville, OH
- Right from the Start: What Should We do to Help Our Youngest Children Thrive?
- Are We Over-Medicating Our Children? How Should a Community Respond to Emotional and Behavioral Issues in Children and Youth?
Participated in interviewing citizens and developing Issue Guides for forums
Promoted the development of a Community Action Group on prescription drugs
Held moderator workshops
What are the Benefits?
Learning how to deliberate issues fairly and honestly develops people intellectually and ethically. Deliberating impels people to seek wisdom and justice and prepares them for being citizens who work together to devise and carry out solutions to both local and global problems. More specifically, people participating in the Center for Civil Life will learn how to:
- Engage in dialogue and civil conversations with those who hold different perspectives.
- Work together to solve difficult problems.
- View civic action as part of the ongoing work of citizens.
- Develop strategic networks for achieving public ends.
- Desire to be involved in civic matters.
- Weigh the benefits and trade-offs of choice.
- Become more open to others' perspectives.
How can You Get Involved?
- Attend forums and engage in deliberation on public issues
- Participate in moderator workshop and become a forum moderator
- Partner with the Center or host a moderator workshop
- Discover and carry out solutions to public issues
- Become a member or supporter of the Center for Civic Life at Ashland University
For more information or to get involved today, contact Dr. Louise Fleming, director of the Center for Civic Life, at 419.289.5347 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org