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Arkansas’ Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is crafting an approach to public deliberation rooted in principles of respectful dialogue, diverse opinions, and collaborative problem-solving. It is called the “Rockefeller Ethic,” and it is designed to maximize the influence of public deliberative processes on policymaking and public officials.
Civic life, particularly the aspects of civic life that interact directly with government, can often seem lifeless. What role do happiness, pleasure, and joy play in participatory democracy? What possibilities might we imagine together if we paid particular attention to nurturing those emotions in our work and in our civic spaces.
One starting place for building a more collaborative and less adversarial democracy is strengthening the power of communities to take collective action to solve their own problems. State “preemption” laws that limit the power of local government could hinder that process.
The 2023 All-America City Award identified communities that are actively engaging citizens, especially youth, in the policies and decisions that shape their lives by breaking down barriers to meaningful participation. The award winners illustrate how small acts undertaken collaboratively can foster democracy as they chip away at today’s challenges.
Educators and civil society leaders have been warning about a crisis of civics education for years. Many students are unable to answer basic questions about U.S. government and American history. But taking a course called “Civics” is not the only way for young people to learn about democracy and civic life.
National Civic Review (Print ISSN 0027-9013, Online ISSN1542-7811) is published quarterly by the National Civic League, Copyright © 2023 National Civic League.