Political Science Education and the Profession

Tackling “Wicked Problems” with the NIF Framework of Deliberative Dialogue.

Alex Jorgensen Winona State University
Kara Lindaman Winona State University
America’s democracy is experiencing an identity crisis. The dysfunctional political environment culminated in the 2016 presidential election, where the socioeconomic and political cleavages highlight the growing disparities in access, privilege, and hope. This adversarial mobilizing politics of party polarization and gridlock is ill-suited for the problems America faces in the 21st Century. These “wicked problems” have no singular position, nor answer. We argue that, the practice of dialogue and deliberation cultivates student abilities necessary to explore enduring, and multidisciplinary questions and solve persistent public problems. Deliberative Dialogues were developed by the National Issues Forum to deal with “wicked problems." People who engage in Deliberative Dialogues begin to see politics differently from the adversarial electoral politics that have become so divisive. Infusing the curriculum with dialogue and deliberative practice, then, is another way to move civic education from episodic moments to sustained practice.
Supplementary material
NIF Safety and Justice Issue Guide and Survey
NIF Safety and Justice Issue Guide and Survey Questions for forum participants.