In late 2005, we began thinking about education and college classrooms as another forum in which we might further develop our methods for facilitated, small-group discussions of broad public policy topics. We were drawn to this approach by certain key similarities between education and our evolving approach to public discussion:
- Time – both have a longer-term framework and don’t impose demands for immediate pay-offs
- Developmental – both are focused on exploration and development as valuable activities in their own right
- Discussion and interactivity – both value continuing discussion, dialogue, and discourse as important democratic and life skills
- Civic engagement – both attempt to increase individual engagement with the political and policy realms.
These similarities have led us to support a number of education-related discussion efforts. Summer Institutes. We have sponsored and hosted two “Summer Institutes” in 2006 and 2009. In these summer conferences, we worked with interested college professors to adapt elements of our discussion process to the college classroom. Out of each of these summer programs, the Foundation has supported a variety of college courses that employ significant aspects of the IF discussion process. Our work with the Summer Institute faculty members has been very productive—both for us and, we hope, for the faculty members. We are continuing to work with many of them—not only on course design and implementation but also on a number of other collaborative research and discussion-related projects. Wesleyan College-IF Collaboration. In the spring and summer of 2012, we began collaborating with faculty at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia on a first-year seminar program that would employ the IF discussion method for student-led discussion. Over the past school year (2012-2013), this collaboration has been very productive.
Other Education-Related Activities.
- Research Projects. From time to time, IF engages in and provides support for a variety of research projects focused on our classroom discussion process, though we also support research on our public and project discussions as well.
- Sponsoring Public Discussions of our reports by various college faculty and other scholars
- Teaching Aids, Guidebooks, and academic papers. We have developed a number of teaching aids, facilitation guidebooks, and other support materials for using aspects of the IF discussion process in classroom discussions. We have also supported the development of a number of academic papers on related topics.
- U.S. State Department’s Junior Faculty Development Program. In 2010-2012, two of our Fellows in the D.C. area led a facilitation training program for foreign faculty.
- IF Interns & Residents. We also collaborate with certain undergraduate students, and post-graduate students on particular projects and activities.