WDPD Report – Indiana Public Health Association Conference 2017

On April 20, 2017, Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse teamed up with the Indiana Public Health Association to facilitate a breakout session deliberation at their annual conference. The breakout session focused on deliberating the impacts of problems associated with mental health issues in Indiana, and identifying prioritized actions for local and state actors.  WDPD also partnered with the Wabash Global Health Initiative, training GHI students to take part in note-taking for this deliberation event.

To learn more about the conference, click here.

The WDPD team of Ben Johnson, Blair Littrell, and Jack Kellerman authored a report summarizing the themes from the breakout session deliberation: Indiana Public Health Association Conference Report

Value Your Voice: Redefining Indiana Report

On March 22, 2016, the Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative (WDPD) facilitated a community conversation in conjunction with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General to address issues of civic engagement and improving civic health in the Indiana communities.

The community members used the WDPD created a discussion guide drawing on state statistics of civic engagement and civic health.

For more about this conversation, including themes discussed and suggested actions to improve civic health, see the report: Value Your Voice, Columbus Report.


Upcoming Event–Value Your Voice: Redefining Indiana

Join the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and
Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse, an initiative of Wabash College
for a public deliberation event


Value Your Voice: Redefining Indiana
March 22, 2016
Summerville Room, Columbus Learning Center, IUPU-Columbus

RSVPs requested at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/value-your-voice-redefining-indiana-tickets-23101819163


Sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General of Indiana, the Democracy Fellows of the Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative will be facilitating a discussing over Indiana’s civic health. The Value Your Voice: Redefining Indiana conversation aims to create an environment that allows the Attorney General to hear from the people about the issues that face Indiana, and brainstorm ideas about how to enable all of Indiana’s citizens to become civically engaged in their communities.

The conversation will be participant driven and divided into in three phases.  First, participants will be identifying the issues, both problems with becoming civically engaged and bigger picture problems, facing Indiana from the citizen’s perspective. Second, participants will discuss possible solutions to the issues they have identified in the first section. Third, participants will prioritize the solutions on what is most feasible and what is most important for Indiana to strive for. The discussion and the results will be reported directly to the Attorney General’s office.


Simpson reflects on facilitating dialogue on men’s mental health

by Deonte Simpson, ’18

It was an awesome opportunity to work with the class of 2019 as we discussed mental health here at Wabash College.  This dialogue is based off President Obama’s community conversations on mental health program that began in the fall of 2013.  That year, a Wabash tutorial group created a mental health dialogue as their course project.  Several members of that tutorial group are now WDPD Fellows, and having more fellows this year, we asked Ms. Heather Thrush if we could run a dialogue on men’s mental health for the freshmen class.

During the dialogue, the freshmen class really bought into the idea that the hypothetical students we presented were facing issues Wabash men encounter everyday. In turn, this made for a much more productive discourse in which we talked about how to respond to our fellow students.  Working on this project, my mind was blown at the fact that mental health is more than being diagnosed with a disease or disability.  These were my preconceived notions on the subject prior to conducting research on mental health.  The freshmen responded similarly as I did in the beginning of the conversation, so I was happy to be there and help them work through these issues and make them aware of resources they have available on campus, such as the Wabash Counseling Center.

The WDPD Fellows really contributed big time to the first of this two-day event producing a positive turnout, so I commend each and every one of you. I also want to give a huge thank you again to Kevin Swaim and Jamie Douglas from the Wabash Counseling Center. It is important that students know about you here on campus. We all admit the institution is challenging, and we need a person to turn to when we feel overwhelmed and in distraught. It was challenging developing the framing for this conversation, but we created a smooth plan for action.

A huge takeaway from working with the WDPD Fellows and the Counseling Center is that it has really helped me develop my ability to work efficiently in a team.  Sometimes working with a peer or colleague in office hours can spark a more interesting idea. Once we (the WDPD Fellows) all get together and begin bouncing ideas off one another, I have noticed this is when we are most effective.  Everyone brings a unique quality to the table, and together we create well researched, thought-out projects that can make a difference.


Wabash Democracy Fellows begin a new year

by Anthony Douglas, ’17

A new school year brings a new office and new faces around the deliberation table for WDPD. In the office, are some returning Fellows, but in addition to this are 8 brand new Wabash Democracy Fellows, ready and energized for what looks like a hectic Fall semester for our program.

Wabash Democracy Fellows at our first meeting of the 2015-2016 year.

Wabash Democracy Fellows at our first meeting of the 2015-2016 year.

The Fellows convened on August 26th for our first day of training. The feel was slightly different considering the fact that the program went from 8 to 13 highly qualified Democracy Fellows. As we discussed and prepared for the events this semester will bring us, we also spent time sharing what brought us to the program or back for the returners.

Around the table, the Fellows discussed our deep passion for working through community problems, as well as the satisfaction of taking an issue and helping communities find solutions. With the energy and work ethic of the men around the table and under the direction of Dr. Sara Drury, we are very optimistic about what this year will bring for the program.

This Fall brings familiar challenges, but also some new opportunities for success. Our current plans–they are always evolving–we have a five on-campus events, and potentially three campus events. This year we’ve been requested to lead deliberations in a couple chemistry courses, a biology course, and a campus mental health dialogue. In addition to this, we are working with several community partners to facilitate a deliberation about childcare in the Montgomery County.

The Democracy Fellows will be nothing short of busy this semester, but we are always looking for opportunities in civic engagement and opportunities to serve communities. All in all, we look forward to what the future holds for the initiative and ready to get to work.