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Pilot Project Profile - Ripon College

Page history last edited by laura.eppinger 11 years, 6 months ago

Lead Contacts     |     Issue Focus     |     Pilot Project Plan     |     Timeline     |     Progress Reports



Lead Contacts

  • Deano Pape, Special Assistant to the VP/Dean of Faculty, (920) 748-8152, paped@ripon.edu
  • Rusty Schultz, news bureau intern, SchultzW@ripon.edu
  • Molly Maillette, deliberative democracy intern, MailletteM@ripon.edu
  • Arielle Denis, research intern, DenisA@ripon.edu


Issue Focus



Progress Reports

  • Course Implementation Profile
  • Semi-Annual Progress Reports
    • April 1, 2009 Progress Report
    • August 15, 2009 Progress Report
    • December 15, 2009 Progress Report
    • June 1, 2010 Progress Report



Pilot Project Plan

1. Background


Ripon College’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is a campus-wide program promoting curricular and co-curricular involvement and leadership in the local community. The OCE brings a rich variety of experience coordinating academic programs that incorporate community elements, including academic service-learning, community based research, and internships. OCE staff members also bring personal expertise with policy issues as members of city and regional government committees and councils.  This makes the Office of Community Engagement a natural home for a Ripon PolicyOptions initiative.


Such an initiative will be an important step in advancing long-standing college efforts to develop solid curricular foundations for community engagement.  Beginning with a small core group of faculty practicing engaged pedagogies, Ripon College has moved steadily to expand the number of opportunities for faculty to incorporate engagement into their curricula.  From an initial faculty discussion group that began in 2001, to the selection of an AmeriCorps*VISTA to serve as a service-learning coordinator, to this year’s revival of an advisory board for service-learning, the college has made steady growth in the number and variety of faculty involved in engaged scholarship.


The PolicyOptions project will offer the next step in this progression.  By offering faculty members guidance and support as they incorporate policy analysis into courses, the PolicyOptions project will open the door to another means of bringing community issues into the classroom.  Ripon’s PolicyOptions effort will both encourage deeper community cooperation to solve entrenched problems and promote deliberative democracy methodologies that ensure all voices are heard in these discussions. 



2. Student Engagement


The Ripon PolicyOptions initiative will utilize three student interns each semester during the project period and one intern during each summer.  Interns will be recruited during the fall 2008 semester utilizing a variety of techniques, including distributing notice of the opening to the coordinators of our college workstudy program, posting flyers in aligned departments such as politics, government, sociology, and anthropology, and targeted advertising through Facebook.


The interns will begin work in spring 2009 with a coordinated training program over the first weeks of their work.  Training facilitators will include OCE staff with a background in journalism, faculty members who can speak about empirical research methods and statistical sampling, local journalists who can talk about interviewing strategies for public officials, and college staff members who can discuss techniques for working with faculty to promote policy analysis.


The first student intern will identify upcoming policy decisions.  The intern will monitor local news releases and interview city decision-makers.  Information gathered by this intern will be posted to the Ripon.PolicyOptions.org Web site.


A second intern will manage the Deliberative Polling activity.  This intern will select topics for the activities, earn Institutional Review Board approval to undertake the polling, conduct the baseline poll, prepare the deliberation events, coordinate with local media to cover the deliberation, conduct a final poll at the event, and disseminate results from the deliberation to local officials.


A final intern will begin the process of assembling PolicyOptions issue briefs.  The intern will seek community input to select a topic, conduct necessary research, prepare a report utilizing the national PolicyOptions format, publish these documents to the PolicyOptions Web site, and utilize these documents as the basis for other materials to distribute to local decision makers.  The intern will also coordinate with the Office of Community Engagement’s Service-Learning Coordinator to publicize the PolicyOptions effort to faculty and identify courses that might incorporate the issue brief format.


These interns will report to Charles Oberweiser, Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Ripon College.  He, in turn, will be governed by a Community Advisory Board, made up of representatives of local decision-making groups, media outlets, faculty, and local residents.  The board will meet quarterly to discuss the progress of the project, propose future directions, and plan for sustainability after grant funding has ceased.  The board will also have the responsibility, since Mr. Oberweiser is not employed by the college during the summer, to select an editor during those months to provide oversight and guidance to the summer intern staff.



3. Faculty Engagement


What faculty might you engage in this initiative?  Describe any courses or academic internships that faculty would teach related to this initiative. 



4. Deliberative Democracy Forum


To promote deliberative democracy, Ripon’s PolicyOptions project must respond to unique challenges of living in a rural area.  First, it must respond to the limited number of media outlets, which often lack staffing to gather even superficial public comment of current policy decisions.  Plus, our primary media outlet has no Internet presence.  This results in citizens who are not given sufficient information about upcoming policy decisions.  Second, it must respond to the small scale of discussions, which can easily become dominated by one or two individuals rather than a balanced sampling of public officials.


To overcome these challenges, Ripon’s PolicyOptions program will introduce the deliberative polling method of civic dialogue.  Deliberative polling starts with an initial scientific poll of residents on some issue, then randomly selects some respondents to participate in a small deliberation on the issue.  These participants are given carefully balanced information from each side, and work with a facilitator to form questions to experts representing each view.  At the conclusion of this deliberation session, participants are polled again with the same questions.  The results of this final poll should represent the opinions the public would reach if they had sufficient time to engage the issues.


Ripon’s PolicyOptions program has chosen the Deliberative Polling model because it is well-suited to situations where the public has little information and because it can be adapted for the small scale of a rural community.  Our program will overcome the challenge of an under-informed citizenry by utilizing the public education feature of Deliberative Polling to present a cross-section of citizens with a balanced view of the issue, as well as airing the proceedings on our local public access channel.  This will create a core group of citizens who is sufficiently knowledgeable to discuss the issue.  Second, our program will overcome the challenge of unbalanced discussions by utilizing the random sampling feature of Deliberative Democracy. Instead of allowing anyone in the community to discuss an issue, this effort will select a manageable random sampling who can come together for a meaningful discussion. 



5. Editorial/Advisory Board 






Fall 2008

  • Receive confirmation of funding status
  • Contact potential members of Community Advisory Board
  • Create internship job descriptions; begin recruiting
  • Utilize members of Community Advisory Board to interview internship finalists


Spring 2009

  • Begin student internships
  • Submit progress report
  • Attend L&S grantee meeting in Princeton, NJ
  • Select a summer student intern
  • Finalize a detailed roadmap of issues to be addressed during the remainder of grant period


Summer 2009

  • Prepare educational materials for faculty about how issue briefs can be incorporated into courses as a tool for organizing policy research
  • Interview public figures to identify major upcoming policy discussions
  • Complete sample issue briefs and publish to Web site


Fall 2009

  • Attend New Organizing Institute Organizer’s Summit
  • Conduct first Deliberative Polling effort, including a civic dialogue
  • Support faculty as they incorporate issue briefs into courses


Spring 2010

  • Conduct second Deliberative Polling effort, including a civic dialogue
  • Edit and publish first issue briefs generated by courses


Summer 2010

  • Close grant funding; switch to institutional support 


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