West Virginia Universitys Division of Social Work in the School of Applied Social Sciences is offering a new summer session II course, Social Work 693R,Sustained Dialogue/Public Deliberation.
Jon Van Til, the Anna Dean Carlson Distinguished Visiting Professor of Social Sciences, will teach the course. The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the School of Applied Social Sciences, will also bring to campus international leaders in the areas of sustained dialogue and public deliberation for the course.
We are trying to establish a research and teaching initiative at WVU that we hope will lead to a center that would be a world leader in these areas,said Roger Lohmann, professor of social work.Public deliberation is a matter of getting groups of parties together to talk about public issues, such as AIDS . Sustained dialogue involves creating ongoing conversations between groups engaged in conflict. An example of this would be Henry Kissingers shuttle diplomacy that took place in the 1970s.
Sustained dialogue is also being used successfully to improve relations between black and white students on a number of campuses and in other settings. West Virginia has an extensive public deliberation program under the leadership of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life. Dr. Lohmann has also been conducting public deliberation-like exercises for a number of years in a graduate course he teaches.
International figures such as Harold Saunders, president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue at the Kettering Foundation and a member of Kissingers shuttle diplomacy team, David Robinson from the University of Victoria in New Zealand, and others will visit campus to work with Van Til in teaching the importance and complexities of these issues. Justin Rockefeller, son of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who was active in a campus Public Deliberation program as an undergraduate at Princeton, is also expected to visit.
Van Til is a professor of urban studies and community planning at Rutgers Universitys Camden Campus where he chairs the Urban Studies program and is a co-founder of the graduate program in public policy. An active leader in the development of nonprofit organizations in the Camden area, Van Til is a former board member and longtime adviser of the Community Planning and Advocacy Council, the Human Services Coalition of Camden County.
Sustained dialogue and public deliberation are based on some of the greatest lessons learned in the social sciences in the 20th century. We seem to be in danger of forgetting them in the 21st century,Lohmann said.
For information regarding registration or class schedule, contact Lohmann at 304-293-3501 ext. 3112.