Public Deliberation Course

The UCC approved the Public Deliberation: Citizen Dialogue Around Critical Issues course as well as the U.S. “overlay.” The course will be offered next fall and spring. I plan to take advantage of my ICB colleagues’ knowledge and ideas. As for homework, here are several goals and objectives.

Goal #1
Students will evaluate scholarly and popular sources used to describe public deliberation relative to specific public issues.


1. Students will read three journal articles and three public media sources related to a specific public issue.

2. Students will discuss the merits and weaknesses of their reading with a small group of peers.

3. Students will frame questions and develop at least three approaches to discussing and addressing a public issue.

Goal #2
Students will identify and utilize facilitation methods in conducting a public deliberation session of their peers.


1. Students will learn and practice describing the session’s purpose, agenda, and group member roles.

2. Students will learn and practice asking essential questions.

3. Students will recognize the stages of group decision-making.

4. Students will lead group members through a debriefing process.


About greggkaufman

I am a retired ELCA pastor and college professor. I am a Kettering Foundation research associate with an interest in deliberative democracy and the relationship of religion and civic life in America.
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3 Responses to Public Deliberation Course

  1. Amy Kelley says:

    I think your goals are well defined. A few questions that come to mind: If the students meet the objectives listed under each goal, will they have achieved the goal? If so, is that the only way the students can meet the goal? I think the objectives will be very helpful in Monday’s workshop matching activities to goals. I don’t think there necessarily needs to be a one-to-one relationship between activities and objectives -it may be that one activity covers several objectives. You may also want to think about spiraling the objective through multiple activities.

  2. klmk says:

    Oh gosh, I expected to still be able to read Greg’s post as I responded so I may not correctly remember exactly what prompted my thinking. Anyway I was wondering about asking students to evaluate without saying what it is so I think something like “evaluate sources in terms of their reliability, use of biased language, and readabilty” (I am making up the criteria–just suggesting you state the criteria if “evaluate” is the verb). Very smart to have only a couple goals–are they similarly weighty/valuable? Do they need to be? I appreciate being able to see your work Greg. This is a course I would love to take–klmk

  3. cbzehnder says:


    First of all this looks like a great course and I am so excited that you’ll be teaching this in Area B next year. I also recognize that then you’re kinda constrained by the Area B learning goals (critical thinking plan & US perspectives overlay etc etc) and I like that you’re specifying multiple learning outcomes for each goals.

    I like Karynne’s suggestion for describing the criteria for evaluation. I would just take it from the BOR critical thinking plan (evaluate sources for relevance, authority, format). I think specifying these criteria will also make it easier for you to assess these goals. I’m envisioning a rubric with the criteria listed along the first column and what a student with excellent ability to evaluate sources for format…maybe like this….(I know this isn’t a great rubric and I can’t manage to paste a table, but you get the idea).

    Ability to evaluation sources for format

    Student is always able to differentiate source format (primary vs. secondary, scholarly vs. popular and print vs. online sources) = 5
    Student is able to differentiate source format most of the time. = 4
    Student is sometimes able to differentiate source format. = 3
    Student frequently has trouble differentiating source format. = 2
    Student is unable to differentiate primary vs. secondary, scholarly vs. popular and print vs. online sources = 1

    I think the first objective under goal one is more of a description of an activity rather than what students will be able to do. And I might reword objective #2 in goal 1 to say ‘Students will be able to present the merits and weaknesses of their reading with a small group of peers.’ Maybe I’m just being picky about semantics, but now I can picture ways to assess the students’ ability to present strengths and weaknesses.

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