Stimulating, enlightening and each one totally different: the Conference plenaries featured four brilliant keynote speakers. Their presentations are now online (click on their names to see them).
Anne Udall provided some basic truths about P2, especially when it comes to shaping education policy: people will only take part in things they care about; they need to know that their input will make a difference; they need to be told up-front why a P2 process is going ahead.
Denis Hayes shared some inconvenient truths, gleaned from a 45-year career in activism, which included organizing the first Earth Day and sit-ins at various university facilities. He added a warning about the current state of privacy in America, with the high-tech capabilities of domestic spying, and urged attendees to stand up for privacy rights because, as he puts it, true democracy can’t exist without P2 and P2 can’t exist if people are afraid to participate.
Nanci Luna Jiménez shared some uncomfortable truths about racism and guilt, and spelled out what she calls the Four Stages of Cognitive and Ethical Development. Stage One is “Dualism” – a fear-based, one-way-or-the-other, worldview; Stage Four is “Committed Relativism” — being able to see and be moved by others’ points of view; which then cycles back to a new form of Dualism. She also engaged the audience in a communications exercise, where the emphasis was not on listening, but on talking. As she puts it, the talker becomes vulnerable and the listener winds up holding all the cards.
Award-winning journalist Andrew DeVigal – now inaugural chair of online journalism and civic engagement at the University of Oregon – brought some timely truths about the new demands of journalism in the era of social media and noted the similarity of the goals of journalism and P2: mainly, to provide the public with the information they need to make choices on matters that affect them.