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Deliberative Pedagogy’s Feminist Potential: Teaching Our Students to Cultivate a More Inclusive Public Sphere

Chapter 3: Deliberative Pedagogy’s Feminist Potential: Teaching Our Students to Cultivate a More Inclusive Public Sphere

J. Cherie StrachanCentral Michigan University

Many political theorists and social scientists argue that deliberation is not only essential for a healthy democracy, but is the key to cultivating healthy civic identity. As opportunities to engage in deliberative decision-making in natural settings decline, incorporating deliberative pedagogy in formal civic education has become an increasingly important tool for promoting civic and political engagement. Yet patriarchal prejudices and institutional barriers that once justified restricting women’s access to the public sphere still affect female students’ abilities to participate effectively in deliberative processes, especially when deliberation is explicitly linked to political participation. Hoping to draw attention to the legacy of hierarchical structures and norms used to marginalize women as well as minorities, this chapter examines factors contributing to women’s disenfranchisement.  It summarizes existing resources for facilitating deliberation in the classroom and on campus and describes a number of approaches for improving women and minority students’ learning experiences when civic engagement endeavors rely on deliberative pedagogy.

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About the Author

Cherie Strachan is Director of Student and Civic Engagement for the College of Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Professor of Political Science at Central Michigan University. She is the author of High-Tech Grassroots: The Professionalization of Local Elections, as well as numerous articles and book chapters.  Her recent publications focus on civility in democracy, as well as on college-level civic education interventions.  Her applied research, which focuses on facilitating student-led deliberative discussions sessions and on enhancing the political socialization that occurs within campus student organizations, has resulted in on-going work with the Kettering Foundation.  She also co-directs the Consortium for Inter-Campus SoTL Research (CISR), which facilitates cross-campus data collection for campus-wide civic engagement initiatives and political science pedagogy research.

Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines / Copyright ©2017 by the American Political Science Association / pp: 35-46