Expanded investment into Alaska's oil and gas industry.-- This set of issues focuses on aligning Alaska's public policy with the interests of private investors to slow and potentially reverse the decline of petroleum production revenues; encouraging the State of Alaska to become a co-investor in petroleum development; developing a more appropriate tax structure for Alaska's future; and engaging the public in a stronger, continuous and more focused dialogue about the future of petroleum in the Alaska economy.
Responsible development of the Arctic.-- This set of issues touches on Alaska's role in the Arctic; the emerging economic landscape for Arctic development in light of climate change; the deep cultural issues involving Arctic development; Alaska's leadership in climate change research; and the importance of developing a new, continuing dialogue on “responsible development” of the Arctic.
Economic diversification through cluster development, expanded entrepreneurial opportunities, and strengthened village economies.-- This set of issues involves implementing a statewide strategy of cluster development; investing in expanded university research and development; improving the entrepreneurial support networks throughout the state; reducing the petroleum dependence in Alaska's villages by promoting renewable energy to reduce significantly the outflow of village income.
Accelerated educational innovation and improved educational outcomes.-- This set of issues involves improvements to early childhood education; expanded innovation in distance education; improved career pathways and skill development; financial incentives for postsecondary education; and initiatives to reduce high school dropouts.
This accomplishment is both needed and rare. A growing chorus of commentators has described the declining state of civility in America. This deterioration carries a heavy price. Without civility, citizens and their elected leaders lose the capacity to engage in the complex thinking needed to adapt to the fundamental changes taking place in our economy and our environment. Few states have anything close to the Institute and its Alaska Dialogue to present an alternative to the widespread deterioration of our civic life.
At the same time, the model of Deliberative Democracy––with its emphasis on conducting deeper civic dialogues around specific public policy issues––was not designed to translate ideas into collective action. Instead, Deliberative Democracy focuses on improving the insights and skills of individual citizens. The experience is designed to enable citizens to see complex issues from different perspectives through the presentation of balanced briefing materials.
In this way, citizens learn to embrace the values of dialogue. Citizens learn to deliberate about public problems and solutions through reasoned reflection and deeper conversation. They gain a mutual understanding of the values, perspectives and interests of others. They also see the possibility of reframing their own interests and perspectives in ways that can lead to uncovering common interests and mutually acceptable solutions.
Strategic Doing: A new approach to civic engagement for Alaska
Deliberative Democracy measures its impacts on the changed attitudes and behavior of individual participants. James Fishkin, the leader in the field at Stanford University, has developed the tool of Deliberative Polling to capture these changes. (Interestingly, Jim was my older brother Hunter's college roommate.)
Strategic Doing starts with a different premise Incubated at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, Strategic Doing represents a simple discipline for guiding complex civic networks. The discipline focuses on improving our civic life by designing, activating and managing new collaborative civic networks. Through these networks, citizens can more effectively address the challenges facing our economy and democracy. In sum, the underlying theory of civic change for Strategic Doing differs from Deliberative Democracy.