The Public Deliberation Initiative (PDI) at Baylor University is an initiative of critical deliberative democracy, activism, interdisciplinary collaboration, pedagogical research, student involvement, and training for ongoing community engagement. This initiative seeks to engage students, staff, faculty, and community members in constructive dialogue and deliberation that addresses important global and local issues and offers new perspectives for participants. The PDI at Baylor enhances local civic culture, increase student/citizen participation in community problem solving, expand collaborative decision-making on campus and in the local community, and improve citizenship through civic pedagogy. There is currently nothing like the PDI in Waco, and as such, the primary mission of the PDI is to promote the development of vibrant deliberative democracy in Waco and the surrounding areas. This occurs by combining teaching, research, and service in the activities of the PDI in order to benefit Baylor faculty and students as well as citizens in the surrounding communities. The PDI at Baylor University is a collaboration between Baylor Formation and the Office of Community Engagement & Service.

Baylor’s Public Deliberation Initiative (PDI) will host deliberation forums at which participants can learn this new way of community engagement  many times a semester. Members from Baylor’s faculty and the community will serve on an advisory board. The co-leaders for the PDI are Erin Payseur, Associate Director for Community-Based Learning, and Josh Ritter, Assistant Director for Formation.

 Goals of Baylor’s Public Deliberation Initiative

  • Enhance student involvement and retention, academic research and development, as well as community relations and outreach
  • Improve the quality of public discussion and public participation concerning important institutional, local, and national issues
  • Increase civic engagement of both students and local community members
  • Provide service to the university, city, county, and region by being available for special projects connected to public deliberation and collaborative decision-making
  • Serve as a research laboratory for deliberative communication practices
  • Develop a local reputation as fair and non-partisan facilitators of public debate and a national reputation of excellence among institutions dedicated to deliberative democracy
  • Advance expertise in a wide variety of face-to-face and on-line deliberative approaches
  • Contribute to the development of a “civic habit” in Waco of high quality public deliberation concerning important issues
  • Improve student communication skills
  • Encourage sustained interest and activism in students, faculty, and community members

The PDI at Baylor University will follow Dr. Martin Carcasson’s model at Colorado State University (CSU) of training students for “passionate impartiality” within a “deliberative” democratic framework (versus an “adversarial” political framework). The PDI will also follow models associated with the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forum, and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD). More information on our models can be found under the “What is Public Deliberation?” page.

The PDF below is the Program Plan for the Public Deliberation Initiative at Baylor University.

PDI at BU Program Plan