National association of universities selects FHSU for initiative in specialized polling

For the second time this year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities has singled out Fort Hays State University for special notice.

In June, AASCU presented one of its highest awards, the William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement, to Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost. Now the university has learned it has been selected as one of the universities that will be participating in the 2008-2009 Deliberative Polling Initiative, which is an activity of the AASCU-sponsored American Democracy Project.  

"Deliberative polling" may be an unfamiliar concept to most people, but Dr. Chapman Rackaway, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and campus coordinator for FHSU's American Democracy Project, explained the value of this specialized form of polling.

"Deliberative polling's goal is to see if people's attitudes change when presented with more information," he explained. "We will choose an issue that is important to people in western Kansas. We will poll people, follow up with an invitation to a pro-and-con presentation on the topic, and then poll again after the event. We then get to see if, when given lots of information and looking at things from both sides, people's responses to polls change at all."
Rackaway said deliberative polling had special relevance for FHSU.

"Deliberative Polling is really friendly to our idea of FHSU as a hub for sharing knowledge and dialog over the important issues of the day," he said. "We will get to bring the campus and community together to discuss an issue of great importance to us all, and then the Docking Institute of Public Affairs will conduct a poll so we will all know the community's true viewpoint on the issue. It's a great national project and we're very proud to be part of it at FHSU."

As participants, selected institutions agree to three elements in AASCU's Deliberative Polling Initiative:

  •  Representatives of each institution must attend training on the Stanford University campus.
  •  Institutions must conduct one deliberative polling project on campus during the 2008-2009 academic year and share results with the other campuses participating in the initiative.
  •  Institutions must report the outcomes of their deliberative polling in June at the 2009 ADP National Meeting in Baltimore.
Rackaway is attending the training session at Stanford this week. He said that in addition to reporting at the June ADP meeting, results of FHSU's deliberative polling would also be announced locally.

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