Deliberative dialogues to address democracy

Beginning Sept. 19, Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development will host four deliberative dialogue sessions on the topic "Democracy's Challenge: Reclaiming the Public's Role."

Each session, which will accommodate up to 30 students, faculty and staff, will be hosted by moderators from the student body, University Police, Residence Life and various academic departments.

David Levy of the philosophy department, a key organizer of the dialogue, said that the discussion will focus on the perceived withdrawal of the public from civic engagement and involvement in politics.

"I hope participants come away from the experience with an appreciation of the depths and challenges [of the issues]," said Levy. A few observed examples he gave of citizens shying away from political involvement were declining memberships in organizations such as Rotary and fewer "letter to the editor" submissions.

Geneseo has hosted at least one deliberative dialogue every semester since Fall 2004. Typically, the dialogues were held in one larger session, but this semester there will be four meetings. Levy hopes each will bring together an "interestingly diverse mix of experiences."

Onondaga Hall RD Ben Delozier said the dialogue will be, "Very very pertinent for first-year students. Hopefully it will be something that will really empower our students to become involved in whatever way they can."

Attendees of all sessions will have access to a myCourses page structure to facilitate further discussion about the state of democracy and how individuals can go about affecting it.

The first session, now closed, will consist of 18 registrants - nine students, four staff members, and five faculty members including a member of the College Council. The remaining sessions will take place on Sept. 29, Oct. 7 and Oct. 30. All members of the college community are welcome to sign up at