Last updated February, 2002 The our World Family of Companies, 2002

Examining ideas about Unity, Diversity and Pluralism


What is a Citizens' Forum ?

A Citizens' Forum is a simple process of small group deliberation.

The programs and publications are made available through the Study Circles Resource Center (SCRC). SCRC is a project of the Topsfield Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation dedicated to advancing deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States. SCRC carries out its mission by promoting the use of small-group, democratic, highly participatory discussions known as study circles.

These are just a few defining characteristics.

* A study circle is comprised of 10-15 people who meet regularly over a period of weeks or months to address a critical public or workplace issue in a democratic and collaborative way.

* A study circle is facilitated by a person who is there not to act as an expert on the issue, but to serve the group by keeping the discussion focused, helping the group consider a variety of views, and asking difficult questions.

* A study circle looks at an issue from many points of view. Citizens' Forum facilitators and SCRC discussion materials give every one "a home in the conversation," and help the group explore areas of comon ground.

* A study circle progresses from a session on personal experience ("how does the issue affect me?") to sesions providing a broader perspective ("what are others saying about the issue?") to a session on action ("what can we do about the issue here?").For more information on topical discussion programs, resources and assistance.

Achieving Individual and Team Goals.


Starting where we are: Addressing our diversity and creating community.


Why the Citizens' Forum and study circles change the way people THINK TOGETHER.

"Communities, like Families, are better understood as the sum of their interactions rather than the sum of their parts". Donald G. Carty. The our World Family of Companies

" Freedom and democracy for individuals, groups and nations require constant engagement. We need organized efforts of citizens and residents who are prepared to honestly discuss, debate, and forge fair and equitable compromises about life-defining issues. Toward a More Perfect Union in an Age of Diversity and the accompanying discussion- starter videotape are a means for all of us, in our diverse and often conflicting ways of knowing and doing, to creatively and democratically inform the meaning and shape the practices of America in an ever-changing world." -James Early, Director, Cultural Studies and Communications, Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural studies.

Achieving Individual and Team Goals.

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