Environmental Issues Forums

woman in library

What are Environmental Issues Forums?

In partnership with the Kettering Foundation, Environmental Issues Forums (EIF) provides tools, training, and support for engaging adults and students in meaningful, productive discussions about sticky issues that affect the environment and communities.

EIF is building a nationwide network of locally sponsored public forums for the consideration of public policy issues. EIF is rooted in the simple notion that people need to come together to reason and talk–to deliberate about common problems.

These forums are modeled on the National Issues Forums (NIF)—a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored public issues forums. Forums organized by a variety of organizations, groups, and individuals, offer citizens the opportunity to join together to deliberate, to make choices with others about ways to approach difficult issues and to work toward creating reasoned public judgment. Forums range from small or large group gatherings similar to town hall meetings, to study circles held in public places or in people's homes on an ongoing basis.

Forums focus on an issue such as climate change, water scarcity, water quality, or energy. The forums provide a way for people of diverse views and experiences to seek a shared understanding of the problem and to search for common ground for action. Forums are led by trained, neutral moderators, and use an issue discussion guide that frames the issue by presenting the overall problem and then three or four broad approaches to the problem. Forum participants work through the issue by considering each approach; examining what appeals to them or concerns them, and also what the costs, consequences, and trade-offs may be that would be incurred in following that approach.

Who can use EIF?

EIF will take shape through the efforts and innovations of EE practitioners—like you. Educators in communities, classrooms, conservation and education organizations, government agencies, and professional development may all find something of value in EIF. 

Learn more, get involved in EIF

To learn more, and find out how you can get involved, contact us.

Missed a forum? Keep the conversation going in our Conservation & Behavior ChangeClimate Change Education, or another eePRO group

Issue guides provide the overall framework for the deliberative discussion and help forum participants focus on alternative courses of action. These guides present a general overview of the issue along with 3-4 approaches to addressing the issue.

Moderators facilitate the forum, ensuring that forum participants engage in a deliberative dialogue that helps them move toward a public decision on a difficult issue. A variety of resources have been developed to help you moderate a successful forum.

EIF offers an opportunity for educators and their students to use a deliberative process to consider critical issues related to climate change, energy, and water. A series of teacher’s guides have been developed to introduce you to the Environmental Issues Forums process.

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