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When you decide to join a forum, this is your study guide. The material in our Issue Books is not handed down from on high, but springs from the concerns of citizens. A problem is set forth with unbiased facts, useful research, and a list of various solutions. That’s where we begin.


Based in Dayton, Ohio, the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that serves to promote public deliberation and coordinate the activities of the National Issues Forums network. Its activities include publishing the issue guides and other materials used by local forum groups, encouraging collaboration among forum sponsors, and sharing information about current activities in the network.  The institute has a distinguished group of 16 directors and officers drawn from such diverse fields like government, journalism, and secondary and higher education. Many NIFI directors also have extensive experience in neighborhood and civic organizations, libraries, and religious organizations.

Each year, the NIF network identifies major issues of concern. Issue discussion guides, who provide an overview of the subject and present several approaches, are prepared to frame the deliberative work.

By offering citizens a framework for deliberative forums, the NIF network helps the public takes an active role in policy decision making. The health of this nation's democratic enterprise depends on the active participation of responsible citizens who take the initiative to deliberate about the public policy choices and to set the public agenda.

Forums are organized by civic, service, and religious organizations as well as by libraries, colleges, universities and high schools, literacy and leadership programs, prisons, businesses, labor unions, and senior groups. The network of convening institutions is both large and diverse. NIF participants vary considerably in age, race, gender, economic status, and geographic location. Studies of NIF deliberation tell us that every type of citizen seeks out and participates in these public forums.

Windy Lawrence

Associate Professor Communication

Dept. of Arts & Humanities, University of Houston-Downtown

(713) 221-8472


Martin Carcasson

Center for Public Deliberation, Colorado State University

Eddy 210, Campus Delivery 1783

Fort Collins, Colorado 80523

(970) 491-5628


Ben Tecumseh DeSoto

CPD University of Houston Downtown Intern, 2015.

713 705-1470

        Introduction                         Basics                             History of American Homeless
         The Options    Discussion Option 1  Discussion Option 2  Discussion  Option 3                                                                 About This Guide
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