The Long-Term Impact of Learning to Deliberate
Christy Buchanan Katy Harriger Jill McMillan Stephanie Gusler
Kettering Foundation Press
This report is a follow-up to Harriger and McMillan's Speaking of Politics: Preparing College Students for Democratic Citizenship through Deliberative Dialogue (Kettering Foundation Press, 2007). That book described a four-year study at Wake Forest University in which students, called Democracy Fellows, were exposed to the process of deliberative dialogue both inside and outside of the classroom.
The focus of this report is an alumni study of the Democracy Fellows 10 years after their graduation. For purposes of comparison, they are matched with a class cohort that did not participate in the Democracy Fellows study. The authors describe differences in the ways that the Democracy Fellows and their classmates understand citizenship. They found that the Democracy Fellows have a more "complex and nuanced understanding of citizenship and its responsibilities." Ten years later, they are more likely to be politically active and express more eagerness "to engage with people who hold different beliefs." Their classmates' concepts of citizenship are "more legalistic and less complex than those of the Democracy Fellows."
The authors of this follow-up study bring together research insights from the literature on political socialization, political participation, and deliberative democracy, with a particular focus on whether and how interventions during the college experience might shape subsequent civic engagement. Their work demonstrates the enduring impact of learning to deliberate.
About the Kettering Foundation
The Kettering Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is: What does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation. For more information about Kettering research and publications, see the Kettering Foundation’s website at www.kettering.org.
Author BioChristy M. Buchanan, who received her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1988, is a professor of psychology and senior associate dean for academic advising at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her administrative responsibilities include the orientation of new students and academic support for undergraduates.
Katy J. Harriger, who received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1987, is professor and chair in the department of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her research and teaching interests focus on the civic engagement of young people, American politics, and constitutional law. In 2007, she co-authored with Jill J. McMillan, Speaking of Politics: Preparing College Students for Democratic Citizenship through Deliberative Dialogue (Kettering Foundation Press).
Jill J. McMillan is professor emerita of communication and research professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her teaching and research have focused on numerous aspects of communication and rhetoric in and around organizations and institutions: corporate identity; the strategies and impact of an organization's public messages; communicative dysfunction among organizational members and groups; organizational democracy and decision making; and pedagogy in higher education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1982.
Stephanie Gusler is a doctoral student in child psychology at the University of Kansas and the director of programming for the university's PAIR (Preschoolers' Adjustment and Intergenerational Risk) Program. She received her master's degree from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2015.