An Evaluation of the National Issues Forum Methodology for Stimulating Deliberation in Rural Kentucky

Contact:  Ron Hustedde,

Description:  Deliberation is implicit in the community development literature. Yet it is seldom addressed as a topic in its own right. Deliberation is defined as the weighing of policy choices by the public. It involves critical thinking and open dialogue that creates a sense of the public and the movement towards a common ground. This article address the problems associated with deliberation: 1) hyperindividualism; 2) a culture of limited public dialogue; and 3) the increased hegemony of science and technology. The National Issues Forum (NIF) methodology was employed as a tool to overcome these problems of deliberation in rural Kentucky. A naturalistic evaluation model was used to critique the application of NIF in rural settings. The ten lessons learned contain insights about the problems, successes and the limitations associated with the NIF methodology for stimulating deliberation.