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The University of Alabama

UA Organizes Student Conference to Encourage Democracy

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s New College is offering “Connect the Dots,” a national student conference to encourage the democratic practices of public dialogue, deliberation and community problem-solving and action. The conference is from Wednesday, March 3, to Saturday, March 6, in Point Clear, Ala.

In partnership with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, the Community-Based Research Internship Program in New College will host students, faculty, program administrators, practitioners and community members from across the nation to share ideas about democratic practices. The conference workshops and learning exchanges will give students skills they need to bring broader public engagement practices to their campuses and Alabama communities.

“This is a rare and exciting opportunity for students and all those who work with them to explore creative and effective ways to work with community partners and campus groups,” says Lane McLelland, coordinator of the internship program.

Workshops include “Preserving Free Speech and Civil Discourse On Campus: Student Rights and Responsibilities;” “Organizing Public Deliberation Programs;” “Directing A Student Program On Deliberative Practices;” “Working With Public Officials;”  “Sustained Dialogue;” and “Measuring Success.”

Workshop leaders include Alice Diebel, a program officer at the Kettering Foundation; Wendy Willis, development director of the Policy Consensus Initiative; Matt Leighninger, director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium; Sandy Heierbacher, director of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation; and members of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network and the Democracy Imperative.

“New College is proud to partner with the Mathews Center in bringing to students across the state and around the country an opportunity to gather, network and learn about best practices in shaping democratic capacity,” says Dr. James Hall, director of New College.

The conference is at the Marriott Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala., south of Fairhope on Mobile Bay. Details about the conference schedule and registration can be found at For more information, including registration scholarships, phone 205/348-2642 or e-mail:

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.