Doing Democracy Differently: Teaching Deliberative Democracy in the Secondary Classroom – March 11-12, 2023

On March 11 & 12, 2023, the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College (New York) and Democracy Without Elections (DWE), a member-run nonprofit organization in the US that promotes the use of randomly selected deliberative bodies, are offering a course to teachers for recertification credit called Doing Democracy Differently: Teaching Deliberative Democracy in the Secondary Classroom.

This college level training course for high school educators to be held in New York City will encourage teachers to include the study of randomly selected bodies and other democratic reform initiatives in their secondary school civics curriculum. The hope is that the course will both raise awareness in high schoolers of new democratic tools and fuel their active participation in future democratic reform.

The DWE Education Group has for the last year been exploring ways to initiate young people into the movement advocating for deliberative democracy, citizens’ assemblies, democratic lotteries, and other randomly selected deliberative bodies. Recently, the committee received a $10,000 grant earmarked for tuition support for teachers enrolling in this training course. They also have been searching for partners and reached out to Stanford University, Bard College, and Colorado State University, who all have strong connections to the democratic reform movement. The goal was to find an academic host for the training course who could offer college credit to interested teachers as well as connections to large numbers of potential participants.

In March of 2021, Education Group chairman, Chris Forman, announced that Bard College had accepted the invitation to host the course. An ideal sponsor, Bard attracts students from all over the country because of its cutting-edge reputation. In the fall of 2021, the Hannah Arendt Center, located on the Bard campus, hosted the conference: Revitalizing Democracy: Sortition, Citizen Power, and Spaces of Freedom. The college is well connected to a broad network of educational institutions, ensuring word of the course can spread.

To initiate the project, the DWE Education Group developed a roundtable of stakeholders to offer guidance and to develop next steps for the project. Participants included the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, University of Pittsburgh Professor of Political Science, Michael MacKenzie, and Linn Davis of Healthy Democracy.

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