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deliberative polling.

Welcome to the webpage for the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s spring 2008 Deliberative Poll!

On Friday March 28, from 5 to 9 p.m., UNO will host a deliberative poll in which a random sample of its undergraduates will participate.  Participants will deliberate about an issue that should be near and dear to our students – access to education. 

This website describes the event.

What is a deliberative poll?

James Fishkin, the inventor of the deliberative poll, describes it this way on his website:

Deliberative Polling® is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the targeted issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for a weekend in order to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the weekend events are broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form. After the deliberations, the sample is again asked the original questions. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues.

What is the topic for UNO’s deliberative poll?

The topic for our poll is access to education.  In other words, what are the costs that make it harder for our students to get an education, and what public policies can increase that access?  The costs include tuition and fees, living expenses, book costs, etc., while the resources to counter the cost would include financial aid, work study, and loans.  What have the trends been over time in terms of enrollment at UNO, the increasing cost of attending, and the resources made available to counter the cost?  Would students support greater state funding of education, or higher taxes to support such funding?  The tuition UNO students pay goes to the system general fund, and only some of the money comes back to this campus:  would students support increasing the amount that returns here?

Who is the population being studied?

We are studying the UNO undergraduate population.

What incentives are being offered to participants?

Participants will receive a $15 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble.

Will dinner be provided?

A pizza dinner will be provided to all participants.

Why should I participate if I have been invited?

First, most people who participate in these events enjoy them.  They are an opportunity to meet peers and discuss issues with them in an engaging way, as well as an opportunity to learn more about a public policy issue.  Participants have the opportunity to interact directly with policy makers and experts.
Second, we provide you with a gift certificate and dinner, and you win an MP3 player.

Why is UNO conducting this deliberative poll?

UNO is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).  AASCU leads many initiatives, including a civic engagement initiative which fosters campuses’ efforts to increase political participation and discussion.  A new component of this civic engagement initiative is the conducting of deliberative polls.  Deliberative polls lead to greater civic engagement among their participants.  However, they can also benefit the community through the press coverage of the event by raising the visibility of the issue.
UNO is one of about a dozen campuses across the country that is conducting deliberative polls this semester as part of this initiative.  Each campus is planning its deliberative poll on its own, with different topics and different populations.  Representatives from each campus will meet up in June to give papers about their deliberative polls at the annual AASCU conference.

What is the history of deliberative polling?

As Dr. Fishkin’s website states,

Professor James Fishkin of Stanford University originated the concept of Deliberative Polling® in 1988. He has served as either Director or Academic Advisor for all of the Deliberative Polling® events conducted thus far. Previously he was the Director of the Center for Deliberative Polling® at the University of Texas at Austin. The Austin Center was moved to Stanford on Sept 1. 2003 and will continue under the new name Center for Deliberative Democracy. The Center will focus on research and application of Deliberative Polling®.

Deliberative Polling® experiments have been conducted over twenty two times in the U.S. and abroad.

In conclusion, if you have received an invitation to attend the deliberative poll, we hope you do!

If you have questions, please contact the director of the UNO deliberative poll, Dr. Gregory Petrow in Political Science, at 554-3991.