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Meghan Stouter Bedell CAS 138T 4-27-13 (Revised) Sustainability Deliberation Evaluation

Stouter 1

Reflecting on our four day class deliberation on the issue of sustainability, I believe that some days went much smoother than others, but overall we had a great conversation. It was most of our first times deliberating so I most certainly think we, as a whole, did a very respectable job at filling the roles of deliberators. Some of us were more involved than others, but I felt a sense of great interest from everybody in the room. In our text book, Gastil lists the nine key features of a proper deliberation. He breaks these nine criteria into two main categories: analytical and social. Numbers one though five are the analytical features which focus on the actual conversation. These involve aspects such as creating a base of information and discussing possible solutions, pros, and cons. The second category revolves around the social aspects of the deliberation. Included are things such as distributing the conversation so that everyone participates, respecting others viewpoints, and listening properly. By following Gastils key features, we as a class were able to hold a very stimulating deliberation. Beginning on the first day of discussion, I think we got right into key feature number two which is to prioritize the key values at stake. To do this, we introduced ourselves and individually revealed our personal values related to sustainability and why it is important to us. Many of my classmates stated its importance as being a better life for their own future and for their childrens. Rebecca and I mentioned living in a small town that is dependent on our resources for farming so sustainability is imperative. This is directly related to Gastils first criteria of creating a solid information base because we shared our personal and emotional experiences as to why we believe in saving our resources. Also, Chris deserves recognition because he greatly contributed and benefited our base of information. He is incredibly

Stouter 2 knowledgeable on the subject and supplied us with many facts that assisted our arguments. I would like to point out that I think Kim did an excellent job at moderating. This first day went the best in my opinion. Kim made sure that deliberative feature number six was met because speaking opportunities were adequately distributed. There were many times when one of my classmates had a lot to say, which is awesome, but Kim would interfere and give the speaking position to another one of us whose voice wasnt heard as often. Day one provided the overall best deliberation because it dealt a lot with government involvement. This is a topic that all of us hold a pretty strong opinion about, so it was easier to take a position and speak about what we believe. We first brainstormed a broad range of solutions, which is analytical feature number three, to address the issue of whether the government should be involved or not. Solutions arose such as laws that make it necessary to sustain resources by recycling, or only giving each household an allotted amount of a certain resource. In addition we discussed a solution of incentives. I think we really captured the deliberative spirit over the course of this discussion, but specifically when we were referring to the role government incentives could play in sustainability. I believed more negative incentives such as taxes on over-utilized resources should be implemented more. Some of my peers such as Katie however, thought it would be more beneficial to have positive incentives like government subsidies when you buy solar panels. There were people who agreed with both of us, and everyone shared their opinions. We followed the social process Gastil described in number eight by considering other ideas and experiences. Although we disagreed on the type of government incentives, we listened to each other carefully and absorbed what the other was saying. Afterwards we weighed the pros, cons and trade-offs of each solution. This is number four of the deliberative conversation criteria. By comparing each solution with one another, we were able to

Stouter 3 observe the advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, a disadvantage we discussed with government subsidies on solar panels was that they are still very expensive and there would only be a certain percent of the population who could afford to do it. We then proceeded to step five which is make the best decision possible. After listening to everybodys thoughts, we agreed that both positive and negative incentives implemented by the government are necessary. They could work in concordance to get the public more interested and involved in sustainability. Over the course of the next three days, we continued to follow the nine features of deliberative conversation. The second day was, in my opinion, the least successful. There were many silent pauses in the conversation and some people didnt talk at all. It may be because the main focus of our conversation was on technology. We all seemed to agree that innovation towards new technology was necessary, but we didnt know to what degree. It was difficult to decide because most of us didnt possess the knowledge on what types of technologies could potentially work. James and Chris were discussing cold fusion at one point and many of us initially had no idea what that meant. Thankfully, someone halted the conversation and asked. This is a key example of how we implemented key feature number seven which is to ensure mutual comprehension. We asked for clarification when we were confused. Chris gladly explained to the class what cold fusion is and does and it made the deliberation much more understandable and enjoyable. The last two days provided more great deliberative conversation and flowed fairly well. The conclusion was a bit shaky at first but once we all understood how it should work, we really got into it. I really liked reflecting on everything we had talked about and seeing how some participants opinions had changed. By creating the list of common ground and tensions, we were able to compare where we started and where we finished. For example, we shared common ground in the means of spreading awareness about the issue such as beginning sustainability projects and classes in schools. However,

Stouter 4 tension still occurred in the amount of money and time we should invest in new technologies. Despite these tensions, over the course of the entire deliberation we respected the other participants. This respect for other participants is listed as Gastils final social feature. This was extremely important because we acknowledged everyones opinions and responded courteously. I saw no signs of social problems at all. I have taken part in many debates before, and while I think they are fun because they are emotional and competitive, they are in no way as productive as a deliberation. The atmosphere of the deliberation was much more relaxed and tension-free. I think everyone felt much more open to talk without judgment. I know I didnt say as much as I would have liked to but that is not because I didnt feel comfortable. Rather, most of the time someone else already mentioned what I had intended to. Listening to everything was extremely fulfilling though; I learned a lot and got to see how the deliberation process really works. A major difference in a debate is that there is a winner and a loser. The loser normally blames the moderator for being too passive or too aggressive. The role of a debate moderator is generally the same as a deliberation moderator: to remain unbiased, watch the time, and redirect conversation if necessary. However in a debate, the moderator sometimes expresses his/her own opinion when things get heated. This is why I really like the role of the deliberative moderator. Because things are much calmer in a deliberation, the moderator truly stays unbiased. There was only one instance in our class that I can think of where the moderator let her opinion slip out on day two, and I think that was mainly due to the lack of conversation at that point in time. Other than that, they all remained neutral and stayed true to the ground rules. I really enjoyed our deliberation because I learned an entire new way to solve problems. Our class was definitely in agreement that drastic measures need to be taken to sustain our resources.

Stouter 5 Although we agreed on that, we disagreed a lot in terms of what needs to be accomplished. I do believe that all perspectives were present in the room for every topic. This made for a much more interesting conversation because it forced us to collaborate and come up with solutions that combined all viewpoints. Although we cant end the sustainability issue by ourselves, I believe we did a great job at presenting well thought out solutions through our deliberation.