Public Deliberation Project

March 2004 – May 2005

Public Deliberation on the Mission of Community Colleges

Funded by the Council on Public Policy Education

The Community College National Center for Community Engagement partnered with MCCD’s Center for Civic Participation, part of the National Issues Forum national network, to offer training for community colleges on how to moderate for public deliberation.

Community Colleges are a uniquely American Creation. Started over a century ago, their mission has evolved to meet the changing needs of American communities. They now deliver general education, transfer education for university degrees, occupational education, continuing education, and community education. What should the mission of community colleges include for the 21st century economy? This issue was framed for public deliberation through this project and professional staff from colleges were trained in how to moderate forums to engage the public in deliberating about the issues.

Research Questions

This proposal addressed the following research questions:
How can public deliberation assist community colleges in clarifying their diverse mission?
How can community college faculty and staff who learn the techniques of public deliberation apply these tools in their ongoing work?


Research and Analysis
Maricopa Community Colleges’ Center for Civic Participation (CCP) held a two-part workshop entitled “Envisioning the 21st Century Community College.” Young leaders from the community were led through an interactive process to learn more about thte mission of commuity colleges. In this process, they were surveyed to identify and prioritize the main mission areas that colleges should undertake. Analysis of this data was used to shape and inform the issue framing process.

Issue Framing
A team of community college personnel and community leaders met in an Issue Framing Workshop to review the data from the “Envisioning” session and develop an “issue frame” about what community college missions should entail in the 21st century. A Discussion Guide was developed for use in public deliberation. A “test forum” was held with another group of young leaders to test the issue framing.

Pre-conference Training
Prior to the national meetings of the American Association of Community Colleges (April 4-7, 2009) and the Community College National Cener for Community Engagement (May 20-22, 2009), both of which were held in Phoenix, pre-conference sessions were held to train participants in how to moderate forums using public deliberation. The Discussion Guide on the community college mission served as the forum for this training, since participants learn best how to moderate if they actually experience it in the context of an actual forum.

This material was based upon work supported by the Community College National Center for Community Engagement through a grant from the Council on Public Policy Education. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Community College National Center for Community Engagement or the Council on Public Policy Education.