The Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy

Campus Conversations

New: Campus Conversations is now hosted by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs. Please go to this site for the latest information.

Carnegie Mellon University is using the concept and practice of Deliberative Polling® and other forms of democrtic dialogue at the campus level. Called Campus Conversations, the initiative seeks to (1) highlight the virtues of campus diversity, as this is embedded in the nature of deliberation, (2) provide a new tool for dissemination and feedback, and (3) create a sense of campus community and an appreciation of democratic practice and civic engagement.

Beginning in the Fall of 2008, Campus Conversations is being supported by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, with partial funding coming from the Office of the Vice Provost for Education.

According to student affairs coordinator Joanna Dickert, the new partnership is designed to engage more students in the deliberative polling process by using it as a tool for campus discussions and decision making.

"We hope to create opportunities for students to realize the benefits of the diversity found within the campus community via their participation in deliberative events," Dickert explained. "Additionally, we hope that participation in such events allows students to cultivate deliberative skills in ways that promote a sense of social responsibility and assist in their preparation for a life of leadership and impact."

For more information about these conversations, see the Events page.

Questions? Contact Robert Cavalier at 412/268-7643. Our offices are located in Baker Hall 148.



With the support of the Teagle Foundation and the Phi Beta Kappa Society, we have produced a Handbook for College-Level Deliberative Polling. This Handbook is free and available for download. We also provide a Coordinator’s Toolkit with sample e-mails, forms, and training materials for those interested using these kinds of deliberative practices on their campuses. The elements of the toolkit are as follows: Sample Timelines, Examples of Consent and Release Forms, Sample Background Document and Resource Guide, Sample Questions and Survey, Expert Panel E-mails and Descriptions, Participant Inquiry E-mails, Volunteer/Moderator Materials, Sample Checklists, Day-of-Event Materials, Sample Online Discussion Environment.

Twelve minute Documentary Video of a Campus Conversaion (QuickTime).

Interns in Deliberative Democracy

Begun in 2004 as a Coro co-sponsored Internship Program, this campus funded program creates a real and abiding link between student interns and the larger campus community via the Campus Conversations project and provides vital support for that project as well. While supporting opportunity for reflection and reading, the internship is primarily focused on civic engagement at both the campus and the regional level. This kind of practicum provides insights into the theory as well as the practice of democracy itself.

Past and current recipients: Randy Weinsten (2004-5), Neil Guzy (2006), Dan Geisey and Joanne Kilgour (2006-2007), Ashley Birt and Brad Porter (2007-2008), Tokeia Fitzgerald and Andrea Solomon (2008-2009).

Advisory Board

In order to institutionalize and maintain the Campus Conversations initiative on our campus, we have established an Advisory Board consisting of administrators, staff, faculty, alumni, and students.

© Copyright 2005 Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy