Center for Public Deliberation celebrates expansion with July 17 event

Story by Carol Busch and Jeff Dodge

The Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University hosted an “Engaging Change” event on July 17 to celebrate some recent changes to its facilities, staff and business model.

The center, formed in the Department of Communication Studies 13 years ago, recently moved to new offices in the General Services Building and hired an assistant director, Elizabeth Parks, who joined the department’s faculty in 2018. The center has also issued a new partnership guide and adopted a new pricing structure that will allow it to continue offering its services long into the future as the population of northern Colorado grows.

The Center for Public Deliberation offers facilitation services that help public governing bodies, nonprofits and other organizations resolve challenges using an inclusive, comprehensive, deliberative approach.

“We know that engaged scholarship like this is hard and time-consuming, and this is one way to do it more sustainably,” said Kalie McMonagle, a two-time communication studies alumna who was named managing director of the center two years ago. “We are expanding to accommodate increasing demands for our services, and our new space gives us more room for our students as well as additional storage areas for our event materials.”

The event

The July 17 event in the Nancy Richardson Design Center gathered CPD’s regional partners for an afternoon of networking and learning. Attendees participated in a national civic index exercise to gauge the civic health of their organization or community. Parks delivered a presentation about her recent publication “The Ethics of Listening: Creating Space for Sustainable Dialogue.” She discussed four different types of listening styles and how each affects our ability to effectively engage.

And McMonagle shared the various ways that the CPD’s expansion and its new fee-for-service business model will help the CPD remain on the leading edge of research and engagement focused on deliberative practices.

McMonagle said the center recently adopted a live note-taking and voting system that registers participants’ views and opinions in real time, allowing student facilitators to collate responses from multiple discussion groups simultaneously on a large computer monitor.

Ginny Sawyer, project and policy manager for the City of Fort Collins and longtime CPD partner, supports the Center’s new business model.

“I think it’s similar to the unique skills that many in the community bring – such as artists and musicians,” Sawyer said. “We shouldn’t expect that service for free if we want the CPD to thrive.”

Attendees included College of Liberal Arts Dean Ben Withers, Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry, Fort Collins City Council members, and representatives from local libraries, area nonprofits, the Bohemian Foundation and CSU Extension’s Family Leadership Training Institute.

The Center for Public Deliberation is housed in the Department of Communication Studies, which is part of CSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

The CPD’s new offices are in the General Services Building.

CSU University Communications Staff