A More Genuine Democracy: Teaching Political Literacy to Rejuvenate America

Date:  September 23, 2007
Speaker:  Professor Jeffrey Nielsen

Professor Jeffrey Nielsen is a philosopher educated at Weber State University and Boston College. Currently he is an adjunct professor in the philosophy departments of both Westminster College and Utah Valley State College focusing on issues in ethics, moral decision-making, and democracy. Jeff also consults with organizations around the world on management issues and assists organizations in developing peer-based managing, moral decision-making, and ethical problem solving models. Professor Nielsen has traveled internationally training with many of the Fortune 500 companies. Jeff is also a frequent guest on Public Radio discussing leadership, ethics, and public policy issues.

His most recent initiative has been to found the nonprofit Democracy House Project. The Democracy House Project is an educational initiative using his peer-based model to teach political literacy in communities, adult education programs, and schools in order to recreate and rejuvenate democracy one person, one household, and one issue at a time. The Democracy House Projects also assists local governments in organizing and training citizen councils to serve as audit and advisory bodies on public policy issues.

“My hope will be to enlist your help in creating a more genuine democracy. And I want to help you by sharing with you what I like to call political literacy, the teaching of which is the main mission of the Democracy House Project [www.democracyhouseproject.org]. As we learn and practice the competencies of dialogue and deliberation–discussing topics central to understanding democracy and the ideals of a just, democratic society–we can create a more participatory democracy. We will discuss how we can be more engaged in more authentic conversation and dialogue in our homes, neighborhoods, community associations, places of work and worship. Together we can recreate democracy and democratic citizenship.”


“Transportation Planning & Stronger Communities”

Date:  Sunday, September 9, 2007
Speaker:  Keith Bartholomew

Keith Bartholomew is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning in the University of Utah’s College of Architecture & Planning. An environmental lawyer, Professor Bartholomew received his J.D. from the University of Oregon and worked for ten years as the staff attorney for 1000 Friends of Oregon, a community development and land use planning advocacy organization in Portland. While at 1000 Friends, Professor Bartholomew was the director of “Making the Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality Connection” (LUTRAQ), a nationally recognized research program examining the inactive effects of community development patterns and travel behavioral patterns. Professor Bartholomew is also the former associate director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment at the U of U’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.

“The recent reauthorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, the nation’s primary transportation funding and planning statute, has caused some to question whether the Act fosters greater integration of transportation and community development. In exploring this issue, Professor Bartholomew will begin with observations on the purpose of cities and how they necessitate transportation systems. He will then discuss the history and principles of transportation planning policy, providing a critique of current transportation planning processes and offering recommendations for transportation decision-making processes that foster stronger communities.”

Suggested Reading:
James Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere.
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Tony Hiss, The Experience of Place.
Andreas Duany, Suburban Nation.
Tony Downs, Still Stuck in Traffic.