Following are examples of the types of projects we work on in the community, on campus, and for organizations. You can find information about many of our other projects in our Annual Reports.

Community Projects

Harrisonburg/Rockingham Bike-Walk Summit: ICAD continued its longitudinal support of this annual Summit, a collaborative effort by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and the Central Shenandoah Valley Planning District Commission to bring together key decision-makers, public administrators, university actors, and bicycling/walking enthusiasts to discuss ways to improve biking and walking in the City and the County.

United Way ALICE Community Conversation - The United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County asked ICAD to design and implement a ‘community conversation’ about the local ALICE population or ‘Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed’ population. This project involved graduate students in public administration in process design and involved additional MPA and EMU graduate students as facilitators. Read more.

Campus Projects

Exploring Historical and Contemporary Blackface: In collaboration with faculty members of the Department of History, ICAD developed an interactive forum that combined the expertise of historians with the engagement of facilitated dialogue to challenge conventional notions of knowledge and meaning regarding racial history in the U.S. The resulting innovation entailed dividing participants into four groups and assigning a history ‘expert’ to each group.

JMU’s Legacy of Exclusion: Confronting our Past and Creating a Culture of Inclusion - Working with the History and Context committee of the JMU Diversity and Inclusion task force, students in Lori Britt’s undergraduate facilitation course helped JMU students learn about some of the more difficult aspects of our institutional history. The goal of the dialogue was to encourage students to think about systems or structures on campus that we may overlook on campus that may be unintentionally preventing campus from being truly diverse and inclusive.

Organizational Projects

Renew Rocktown Strategic Planning - Rob Alexander worked with a Communication and Advocacy graduate student to design and implement a full day strategic planning retreat for Renew Rocktown, a Harrisonburg-based climate advocacy group connected to the community organization, Vine and Fig. The retreat focused on the facilitation of dialogue about the group’s vision and mission to generate actionable goals for the calendar year.

Virginia Social Studies Leadership Consortium: ICAD designed and facilitated a series of three sessions focused on helping this organization develop a mission and vision, and key advocacy objectives for the Virginia Social Studies Leadership Consortium. 

Grants and Publications
  • 2019-2022, Kara Dillard was awarded a three-year $195,000 grant by the Kettering Foundation to pursue research into digital deliberative practice and online moderator training. 
  • ICAD is included as part of a grant awarded to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors from the National Association of Realtors for community work on addressing the needs for low-income housing. Planning for this project is underway and will continue for summer and fall 2020.
  • For Summer 2020 and Fall 2020, Lori Britt was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Interactivity Foundation to develop, pilot and refine a certification program in dialogue and deliberation for college students.
  • 2019, Lori Britt from the Interactivity Foundation, for work on the Development Team for a Certificate Program for Deliberative Discussions, $500

Britt, L. L., & Alexander, R. (2019). Stories Communities Tell: How Deliberative Practitioners Can Work with Community Narratives. Journal of Public Deliberation, 15(3), 6. DOI: 

Britt, L. L., and Ball, T. C. (2019). Deliberative Communication about Complex Social Issues: An Innovative General Education Course for Honors Students. Journal of General Education: A Curricular Commons of the Humanities and Sciences

Pastor, D., Goldberg, A., Britt, L.L., Shuyler, K., Thacker, E., Whaley, C., and Williams, J. (2019) Political Learning & Democratic Engagement at JMU, A campus climate study.  


In Progress

Common Ground for Action (CGA): A Macro-Level Case Study in Design-Build Innovations in Online Deliberation. Using three meta-case studies of major projects utilizing Common Ground for Action as the primary deliberation treatment – in online deliberative forums for U.S. Members of Congress, in online deliberations for college students across a diversity of US-based universities, and in an initiative encouraging online deliberation on key 2020 election issues sponsored by a major US newspaper – this essay examines the utility and function of the deliberation theory-based design features of CGA as well as the drawbacks and constraints of game design as they relate to promoting deliberative talk and choicework

Outrage and incivility in new online deliberative spaces: How design choice impacts political discourse. Analysis of discussion board content from the U.S. newspaper USATODAY and transcripts from National Issues Forums (NIF)-style deliberative forums convened on the Common Ground for Action (CGA) online platform. Both datasets are features of USATODAY’s national election year initiative “Hidden Common Ground 2020” with the newspaper pushing readers to participate in online deliberations via their on-site message board and in CGA forums. Preliminary analysis provides two important related insights relevant to efforts at encouraging deliberation: First, that a richer, moderated online deliberative forums harbored far less uncivil talk and outrage language than the leaner, online deliberative message boards and second, that design choices about how to structure online deliberation may make significant difference in outcomes.

Attitudes and behaviors of students after cross-campus forums. This project aims to assess how impactful online deliberation via CGA is on civic attitudes and behaviors. Each year, NIFI hosts a weeklong series of  cross-campus forums connecting students from disparate campuses  - urban with rural campuses, conservative with liberal, large with small, liberal arts with tech focus, etc. – together in deliberation. Often, students participate in campus-based forums only with students like themselves or who, because they are on the same campus, have similar experiences. Connecting different students together using CGA is a unique way to see how much of an impact exposure to different voices and stories has on the forum experience. Survey instrument is being designed for use in Fall 2019; a pilot test was conducted Spring 2020. Data collection in Fall 2020 and project completion by end of spring 2021. 


Conference Presentations

Dillard, K. (2020, February). “The power of deliberative democracy on campus” Workshop session at IMPACT conference, Arizona State University.

Britt, L. L., Goldberg, A. Boehm, J., Koether, K., Pickering, B., and Churchill, L. (2020, June). “Shaping Dialogues to Generate Ideas and Support for strengthening Campus Democratic Engagement.” Workshop presentation at the virtual Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Conference, June 2020.

Dedrick, J., Dillard, K., Lindaman, K., Muse, B., (2020, June). “Democratic Deliberation: Free Speech and the Inclusive Campus. ”Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement  (CLDE) Conference. 

Dedrick, J., Dillard, K., Lindaman, K., Theis, J., Muse, B. (2020, June). “Democratic Deliberation in Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.” Campus Compact annual conference, Seattle, WA* (*Conference canceled, no virtual option available)

Speaking Engagements

Britt, L.L., Invited Speaker, Careers and Practices of Facilitation, JMU Outriggers, February 2020

Britt, L.L., Invited Speaker, Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School, Fishersville, VA. Transforming Talk about Public Issues. Part of the Giving Voice: Lunchtime Speakers in the Humanities series, February 2020

Britt, L.L., Invited Speaker, Inaugural Saturday Scholars Program, JMU Honors College, Transforming Talk about Public Issues, February 2020.

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