Constitution Day and Civic Dialogue Resources

May 25, 2018

In preparation for the Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative, Minnesota Campus Compact offered three different civic dialogue train-the-trainer gatherings across the state. Thanks to everyone who participated. Below are a selection of resources and takeaways, and you can see more here.

How to Choose a Dialogue Method

A recurring theme was the importance of first articulating the goals of a dialogue or deliberation before choosing an approach. Emily Shields noted this creates a clearer vision for you and your campus and can draw in issue-focused participants who might not otherwise participate. Goals can be broken up between the people/relational goals (the goal(s) for the people attending and their relationships with one another) and the organization/community goals (the goal(s) for the organization and/or the community). With defined goals, it makes it easier to choose an effective dialogue design.

Tim Shaffer recommends this Streams of Engagement chart for selecting a dialogue approach based on whether the goal is engagement, conflict resolution, decision making, or collaboration action. From there, this planning guide can help map out next steps. Shaffer’s Deliberative Pedagogy book is another deeper follow-up resource, as well as Kaner’s Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making.

Training Student Facilitators

The Fundamentals of Facilitation document from Leila Brammer and Pamela Conners of the Public Deliberation and Dialogue program at Gustavus Adolphus College shares basic facilitator responsibilities, strategies, and sample ground rules to use and adapt.

Starting with Values

Many dialogue approaches include an emphasis on starting with values, rather than positions. This survey exercise shared and adapted by Danielle Allen of Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics and author of Our Declaration creates an entry point to discussion about how students’ personal values intersect with the values articulated in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and those of their peers and community. We invite campuses doing a Constitution Day Dialogue to use this exercise as a jumping-off place for deeper conversation and more personal engagement with our nation’s founding documents. It can be adapted for your context and goals.

Approaching Local Issues through the Lens of the Constitution

At the gathering hosted by Metropolitan State University, Matt Filner shared the grassroots We the People constitution dialogue initiative he and other community members brought to life last year and participants considered ways to approach campus and community issues through a constitutional lens.  See the We the People Constitution dialogue Facebook page for videos from this initiative. A guide to adapting this approach to other contexts is forthcoming. 

Deliberation Guide: A New Land

This guide could be one way to address the constitution through dialogue using a highly structured guide by the National Issues Forum.

Intergroup Dialogue

At the first gathering, hosted by Gustavus Adolphus College, intergroup dialogue and training student facilitators were the main topics.  Anita Chikkatur of Carleton College presented on intergroup dialogue. See materials she shared here.   More Intergroup Dialogue Resources are available here.

Narrative 4

Dawn Duncan of Concordia College shared the Narrative 4 model with participants hosted by University of Minnesota, Morris. Learn more about Narrative4 here and see an overview of Narrative 4 along with examples here. 

To see the comprehensive list of Constitution Day Dialogue tools and materials, click here.

Participate in the Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative

To be part of this initiative, Minnesota Campus Compact member campuses can use any dialogue model they choose to approach an issue of interest or concern to their campus and/or community, as long as it includes activities taking place during the week of Constitution Day. Campuses can have multiple activities registered, and may engage existing or new groups to participate. Please complete the form to register your campus.

By registering your campus, you’ll allow Minnesota Campus Compact to share the story of your campus’s dialogues as part of broader communications activities to build awareness of Constitution Day dialogues around the state.

Please register your campus by August 1, 2018.

Participating Campuses

Thanks to representatives from 14 colleges and universities for participating, contributing, and hosting this season’s gatherings:

  • Carleton College
  • Concordia College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hamline University
  • Inver Hills Community College
  • Macalester College
  • Metropolitan State University
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • South Central College
  • St. Catherine University
  • St. Olaf College
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota, Morris

For more information or with questions, email sinda {at} mncampuscompact(.)org. Thanks!