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[ATG] Civic health and community engagement focus of roundtable talks
Start Date: 3/22/2016Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/22/2016
Entry Description

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- During an interactive roundtable brainstorming session Tuesday, Columbus-area residents learned about and discussed ways of enhancing citizen involvement in their community and state. 

Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC) hosted “Value Your Voice, Redefining Indiana,” a free two-hour discussion on civic health sponsored by Wabash College and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. 

Students from Wabash College’s Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative led roundtable discussions with groups of audience members, focusing on civic health and citizen engagement in their community, culminating in each group making recommendations to the whole audience.

Before the audience broke into small groups, attendees heard opening remarks from Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller about the findings of the Indiana Bar Foundation’s 2015 Civic Health Index, a public opinion research study of Hoosiers’ level of trust in institutions and their level of participation in aspects of community life, such as volunteering, assisting neighbors, joining organizations, attending school boards and local government meetings, expressing views on public issues and voting.

“The Indiana Bar Foundation’s 2015 Civic Health Index found that Hoosiers have relatively low rates of participation in public meeting attendance and participation in school or community groups compared to residents of other states. This civic engagement presentation here at IUPUC is intended to brainstorm practical ways that citizens can get involved in their communities and state, address concerns effectively and make a difference. Citizen involvement is crucial for representative government; so we are honored to be a part of this event during the State of Indiana’s bicentennial year,” Zoeller said.

The Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative at Wabash College teaches leadership skills and trains students, known as Democracy Fellows, to prepare and facilitate structured discussions on complex public problems and suggest approaches for solutions.  The initiative emphasizes cultivating democracy through community participation and deliberation. Its students have led interactive roundtable discussions on several other subjects in other cities.

“The Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative is excited to be collaborating with Attorney General Zoeller on this important public deliberation on civic health in Indiana. Deliberation is a process that brings different parts of the community together to talk about a common concern or issue, working through different approaches to addressing that issue and then deciding action steps to move forward. At the ‘Value Your Voice’ event, community members have an opportunity to learn about the state of civic health in Indiana, identify and discuss areas for improving Indiana’s civic health and prioritize key action steps for individuals and groups to take in the future,” said Professor Sara Mehltretter Drury, director of the initiative at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind.

Zoeller thanked Professor Ryan Neville-Shepard and IUPUC, who provided the Summerville Room facility for today’s event at no cost to the state, and thanked Professor Drury and the Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse Initiative students, who led the program and provided materials for “Value Your Voice,” also at no cost to the state.

“We appreciate the effort, energy and professionalism that the Wabash students who are young leaders brought to this project, with their special focus on reaching out to college-age ‘millennials,’ and their encouraging civility in listening to a variety of viewpoints,” Zoeller said.

Today’s free event was the second civic engagement seminar the Attorney General’s Office has sponsored. The first was held Sept. 23, 2015, at Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne, where the Civic Health Index also was discussed and audience input was sought.

The Attorney General’s Office conducts public education seminars several times each year, sometimes in conjunction with continuing legal education programs. In 2011 and 2012, the Attorney General’s Office participated in a series of public access seminars about Indiana’s open meetings laws and public records laws, in cooperation with the Hoosier State Press Association and Indiana Public Access Counselor’s Office; and both also helped the AG’s Office conduct the September 2015 civic engagement seminar at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.

NOTE:  The Indiana Bar Foundation’s 2015 Civic Health Index is at this this link:

Background on the civic engagement seminar in Fort Wayne in September 2015 is at this link:



Location Information:
Bartholomew County

Montgomery County
Contact Information:
Name: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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