The Interactivity Foundation works to enhance the process and expand the scope and health of our democracy by bringing people together in small group discussions of broad topics of societal concern. Our goal is to engage more people in the exploration and development of more possibilities for public policy. We use a facilitated discussion process that is oriented around the notion of collaboration by difference, engaging a group to work together to uncover divergent perspectives on the discussion topic and to develop divergent approaches to that topic.
We have three focal areas for our activities.
- Project Discussions. Our Fellows conduct longer-term Project Discussions that engage separate panels of selected generalists and specialists on a public policy topic for an extended period with multiple sessions of closed or private discussions to explore and develop multiple policy possibilities. The results of these discussions are captured in a citizen’s Discussion Guide.
- Public Discussions. We conduct and sponsor shorter series of small group Public Discussions, which are open to all interested participants. These discussions use the possibilities from our Discussion Guides as the starting point for further exploration and development. We welcome others to use our Discussion Guides and offer supporting guidance for conducting these discussions.
- Education/Classroom Discussions. Finally, we collaborate with certain college faculty and other educators to develop and support facilitated, student-centered Classroom Discussions. Our efforts have focused helping students learn to facilitate their own discussion teams, where these teams are charged with developing diverse approaches to the course content. We are also interested in students’ development of vital soft skills and practical communication skills relevant to success in the 21st century.
The Interactivity Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees, which oversees the Foundation’s financial matters and its overall mission, and an Intellectual Development Committee (IDC), an executive committee that oversees the intellectual directions for the Foundation’s activities and handles all of the operational and day-to-day business concerns. IF’s administrative offices and office staff are located in Parkersburg, West Virginia. IF’s President, other members of the IDC, and each of the Fellows reside and work in other locations around the country. See the IF People page for more information.
The Interactivity Foundation is an operating foundation that does not make grants but does engage in selected joint research efforts with others. IF is a non-partisan, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities presented in its Discussion Reports. The Foundation was established, under Delaware law, in 1965 by Jay Stern, a West Virginia businessman, whose significant contributions continue to fund the Foundation’s activities. See the IF History and Jay Stern bio pages for more information.