Discussion series at Douglas Library will look at public policy

MINDEN - Jill Derby envisions an old-fashioned town hall meeting that will raise consciousness and, ultimately, affect democracy in America in a positive way.

Derby is facilitating a discussion series on public policy and the role of the U.S. in national politics at the Douglas County Public Library in October.

Derby, who is currently a regent for the University and Community College System of Nevada, previously was a cultural anthropology professor who says her experiences in the Middle East will help her during this series.

"The Middle East was a major focus of my doctoral studies and I also lived in the Middle East and speak Arabic, so I know the issues there very well. Also, cultural anthropology gives us a broad view of humanity so it will help me facilitate this kind of discussion," she said.

The Middle East is only one of four nights of discussions.

The first night will be Oct. 10 and the discussion will be on "Defining our Role in a Changing World: Exploring Four Perspectives." On Oct. 17, the discussion will be "The Global Environment." "The Middle East" will be the topic Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, the topic will be "Charting our Future: Balancing Priorities." Each discussion will start at 6:30 p.m.

Participants are asked to commit to attend all of the four scheduled discussions. Each registered participant will be provided with a reader, "Defining our Role in a Changing World."

Questions asked will be "How should we conduct ourselves in the world?" "What role should we play in international conflicts?" and "What costs are we willing to incur to promote or protect our national values?"

Derby, of Gardnerville, said Douglas Library Director Linda Deacy recommended her for the job. As a member of the state Endowment for the Arts, Derby knew the project was coming up and supported it.

"We need more outreach into the outlying areas. We need more programs that bring together the community," she said.

Derby said she previously was part of a discussion group called the Carson Valley World Affairs Salon.

Derby said the readings are stimulating and ask participants to examine their values and four possible futures, based on U.S. involvement in foreign countries - from fully engaged in cooperation in a global community to completely isolated. On the last nightm, participants will be encouraged to determine a fifth future that emerges from the previous discussions.

"It helps people articulate and focus on what their values are and it helps us identify what values drive our thinking," Derby said.

She said she hopes to gather a wide variety of people with different backgrounds and points-of-view for the discussion.

"By engaging in the discussion, by simply talking about this, the democratic process benefits because the people involved will make decisions from a more informed stand point," Derby said.

Individuals who are interested in participating are asked to call Linda Wilson or Linda Deacy at 782-9841.


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