Why develop The Deliberative Voice web site? First, after 40 years of community organizing and teaching, it is impossible to stop doing what I am passionate about in retirement. Second, with all humility, I believe I have something to offer. And third, I am interested in helping others plant the seeds of deliberative democracy among people of all ages. Ordinary citizens can accomplish extraordinary things when they collaborate with others. I have seen elementary school children identify problems, deliberate possible solutions, and organize themselves for action. I have enjoyed observing people with widely divergent perspectives struggle with tough issues through civil discourse.
My goal: I hope to develop relationships with people and organizations who are interested in engaging citizens in problem solving, holding forums, designing discussion guides, learning how to moderate, and pass on solution ideas to key community decision makers. I am associated with two organizations that have a long history with this work, the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forum Institute.
A native of Weatherly, Pennsylvania, Kaufman retired in 2014 from Georgia College, Georgia’s Public Liberal Arts University, where he coordinated civic engagement activities and taught in the Department of Government & Sociology. Prior to his ten years at Georgia College, Kaufman served for thirty years as an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor in four congregations in Stone Church, PA, Carrollton and Macon, GA, and Princeton Jct., NJ. Kaufman earned degrees at Waterloo Lutheran University (B.A. Political Science, 1971), Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1975), and Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1993).
Kaufman’s life-long interest in community organizing resulted in collaborative accomplishments that include the development of a soup kitchen and domestic violence shelter in Carrollton, GA and The Cherry Tree Club, a pre-school for children of homeless families in Princeton Jct., NJ. Kaufman introduced two courses at Georgia College that engaged students in substantive community scholarship. Public Achievement is a youth citizenship education effort that is used by universities in the U.S. and in twenty countries around the world. College students coach elementary through high school-age students in democratic skills that assist them in making a difference in their communities. Kaufman developed a Public Deliberation course for a first-year a core curriculum dedicated to critical thinking. The course draws on the experience of Public Agenda, the Kettering Foundation, and National Issues Forum Institute and promotes deliberative dialogue. Students learn neutral facilitation skills and weigh the advantages and consequences of distinctive problem-solving approaches. Kaufman taught Religion and Politics in the United States as well as a global perspectives version of the course, Nonprofit Management, and Ethics and Society.
Kaufman’s service to communities and the university took the form of strategic planning, community organizing, facilitating inclusive participation in problem solving, and championing civil discourse. Kaufman initiated a weekly current events dialogue series in 2006 at Georgia College called Times Talk that launched its tenth year in August 2014. He serves as a consultant with the New York Times Education Division and has conducted faculty workshops focused on incorporating the New York Times into instruction and campus life at universities across the country.
In 2014 the American Association of State Colleges and Universities American Democracy Project awarded Kaufman the inaugural Barbara Burch Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement Award. He is also a member of the National Issues Forum Institute advisory body and a research associate with the Kettering Foundation, Dayton, Ohio. Kaufman is actively engaged in several ongoing research initiatives including the role of religious institutions in community building.
Kaufman is married to Linda and they have two children and three grandchildren.