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Building our Democracy, One Conversation at a Time

by | Aug 3, 2021

If you are concerned about the state of our democracy and our public discourse, looking for more opportunities to engage with others on the difficult issues facing our society, or want to learn how to effectively facilitate such discussions in your family, organization, or group of friends, you might want to check out Davidson College’s Deliberative Citizenship Initiative (DCI). The DCI is dedicated to creating spaces for people from across the political spectrum to productively deliberate on challenging topics. There are three main ways to get involved in the DCI this fall – becoming a DCI Fellow, joining a D Team, and participating in the DCI’s Deliberation Facilitator Training Program.

Become a 2021-2022 DCI Fellow: DCI fellows include Davidson students, staff, and community members who spend the year playing a leadership role in the initiative.  They immerse themselves in deliberative theory and methods, help choose the issues for the year’s focus, facilitate robust deliberations on those issues, and reflect on and document their experiences as sponsors of these discussions. Applications will be accepted for these paid positions until August 13 on WildcatSync, and all Davidson community members are encouraged to apply.  A short video and description about the program can be found on the DCI website’s Fellows page.

Join a Fall D Team: D Teams are amazing ways to get to know and engage with your fellow citizens on the challenging issues facing our society.  They are moderated by trained DCI Facilitators and are open to any student, faculty, staff, community member, or alumnus committed to meeting with a small group once a month over the course of a semester. WildcatSync will be available until August 16, with the first D Team meetings taking place in September. Some D Teams may meet in person while others continue to meet in a virtual format. When signing up, interested individuals have an opportunity to state their preference for the type of D Team — BridgeBuilder and SkillBuilder Teams — they would like to join.

SkillBuilder D Teams focus more on the skills of dialogue and deliberation and may not have as great a diversity of views as the BridgeBuilder D Teams. To join a BridgeBuilder Team, which are designed to include and engage a broader diversity of perspectives, participants need to sign up with at least one individual who is ideologically or demographically different from themselves. Both teams – like all DCI activities — will continue to explore both areas of agreement and disagreement  on important issues.

The DCI is also launching a related but new “Bring a Friend” option for both types of teams. If you are interested in joining but are hesitant because you might not know anyone in the group or won’t share important things in common with other participants, you can sign up with a friend who you do share something in common with.  You’ll have an option in the application to specify this person’s name and we will put you on the same D team together.  To learn more about D Teams, please visit

Participate in the DCI’s Deliberation Facilitator Training Program: The Deliberative Citizenship Initiative is excited to host a deliberation facilitator training open to all Davidson students, faculty, and staff, as well as to members of the wider community. This 8-hour training, spread across two days, will equip participants with skills and knowledge to improve their ability to facilitate difficult discussions about political and social issues among people who may have different backgrounds, values, and perspectives.

Participants in the training can expect to:

  • Explore deliberation as an alternative to the non-constructive cross talk that has come to dominate our public discourse

  • Learn how to host and organize welcoming and well-defined deliberative events

  • Learn facilitation approaches and skills that help deliberation participants adopt deliberative dispositions and skills that enable meaningful deliberations

  • Become better facilitators of both formal and informal discussions of difficult topics

  • Establish a community of individuals dedicated to creating more productive discourse

Successful completion of the training program will involve some pre-reading as well as full and active participation in group discussions, deliberation simulations, and other learning activities. Participants who fully complete the training program will be certified to serve as DCI Deliberation Facilitators for deliberative forums and other deliberation-involved events. Participants will also be able to translate the skills they learn to a variety of other contexts – from informal conversations among friends and family to contentious discussions within the workplace.

The training program sessions will occur Saturday, August 28th and Sunday, September 12th from 1:30 to 5:30 pm. Registration is required, and both sessions are required for completion of the program. The training is free but space is limited. The training will take place in-person at Davidson College, but a limited contingent of off-site individuals may also participate through virtual and breakout room integration. However, in-person participation is highly recommended. Individuals should sign up on Eventbrite by Monday, August 16th.

To learn more about the DCI, check out the short overview video and Annual Report on its website, and contact the DCI at [email protected] with any questions about any of these opportunities.


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