Annual National Issues Forum Improves Students’ Communication Skills and Understanding of National Issues
More than 30 UHart students recently participated in a National Issues Forum and Common Ground for Action (NIF/CGA) event about Climate Choices. Hillyer College Associate Professor of Communication Rebecca Townsend has hosted the forum for the last four years to help students learn invaluable information while gaining improved communication and life skills that are pertinent to success in the workforce.
Townsend explains the NIF/CGA brings people together about a common cause and encourages them to deliberate to reach common ground. “Our society needs to be able to come together to solve problems with one another; we need to see what values we have in common and realize that just because others may prioritize them differently across issues does not mean we lose those shared senses of what is meaningful to us,” says Townsend. She also points out that she uses the forum as a way for students to develop an understanding of national issues especially as they affect people on the local level.
She says the forum participants are increasing their competency in perception and listening, developing and maintaining a constructive climate, organizing messages and events, as well as improving their delivery, facilitation, and deliberation skills.
Rebecca Townsend, Hillyer College Associate Professor of Communication
They gain experience helping others to express their nascent or well-developed ideas in a situation that is designed for civic growth and capacity-building.
Hillyer student Lenaijah Ferguson ’24 says, "Being a moderator taught me how to think outside the box and to ask more questions. The most rewarding aspect was hearing other opinions and learning more about people that I didn’t know.”