Carnegie Mellon University
September 06, 2012

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon To Host Deliberative Democracy Event on Climate Change

Campus Conversation Designed To Get College Student Feedback on Potential Policy Issues

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

PITTSBURGH—Universities can play a particularly valuable role in addressing climate change. As "mini cities," they account for a large percentage of a community's greenhouse gas omissions. But, colleges and universities also are relatively free to set policies to manage their immediate impact on local environments.

To get student input on various practical action items and policy issues, Carnegie Mellon University's Program for Deliberative Democracy (PDD) will host a Campus Conversation on Climate Change from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 in the University Center's Wiegand Gym. The event — which will include students from nine different schools in Pittsburgh — will use the principles and practices of deliberative democracy to address practical issues that have been developed through discussions with members of the Pittsburgh Higher Education Consortium on Climate Change.

"The issue of climate change has been clouded by the rhetoric of political television, year-round campaign ads and vitriolic blogs and websites," said PDD Co-director Robert Cavalier, teaching professor of philosophy within the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "Hence, the task of discussing climate change and public policy is daunting, not only in regard to the challenges of translating technical information into a public language accessible to our citizenry but also in regard to kinds of forums in which such a discussion can take place. By creating a civil and productive environment in which students can be engaged in informed, well structured conversations on the such a potentially divisive topic, we also can show that the very process itself demonstrates the advantages of a more deliberative, less divisive democracy."

Participants are encouraged to read the discussion guide ahead of the event. The guide, developed in collaboration with CMU's Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making, provides a summary of the science of climate change and addresses what can be done for college campuses, communities at large and individuals.

Interested students can register to attend the Carnegie Mellon event at

Along with the schools from the Pittsburgh area, colleges and universities from across the country will be hosting their own deliberative democracy events on climate change at some point during the fall. Campuses include Chatham University, Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon, Community College of Allegheny County, Community College of Philadelphia, Duquesne University, Indiana University Bloomington, Stephen F. Austin State University, Metropolitan State University, Penn State Center-Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, Shippensburg University, Slippery Rock University, SUNY at Cortland, Saint Vincent College, University of Houston, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Montana and the University of Pittsburgh.

The Program for Deliberative Democracy is an initiative of CMU's Center for Ethics and Policy within the Dietrich College's Department of Philosophy. Since 2004, the PDD has been using deliberative polling and other forms of democratic deliberation to collect information on what a representative sample of people from a community thinks about an issue once they have had time to become informed about it, discuss it among themselves and with experts. The program has used the method of deliberative democracy techniques on topics ranging from marriage in America and public art to public policy.

For more information on the Program for Deliberative Democracy, visit