National Issues Forums

National Issues Forums

National Issues Forums offer citizens the opportunity to join together to deliberate, to make choices with others about ways to approach difficult issues and to work toward creating reasoned public judgment.

National Issues Forums is known for its careful issue framing and quality issue guides, which outline three or four different viewpoints. Forums are neutrally moderated in a way that encourages positive interaction between people who are not expected to agree, but are encouraged to find a shared direction. For two or three hours, participants are led by a neutral moderator who encourages exploration and evaluation of several possible solutions to the issue at hand. Every solution comes with a set of costs and consequences that must be thoroughly measured. Only then do you know which costs participants are willing to bear. 

Use National Issues Forums when: You want to encourage exploration of tough public problems in increase public knowledge of the issue, and/or you wish to influence public decisions and policy.

Topics suited for this model: Health care, immigration, policing, substance abuse, energy, climate change and more! National Issues Forums has materials in a variety of topics, including historical frameworks for reflecting on big issues in history.

Why we chose this model: This approach to deliberating the tough issues of today is already used in academic settings across the country to engage students and the broader campus community. It allows for deep exploration and evaluation of the options available to address specific issues, which gets participants thinking more deeply about the issue and what is at stake.

Visit the National Issues Forums website

Learning Sessions







First 30 Days: Getting Started
Resources: National Issues Forums


The Public's Voice: Building Community Engagement through Deliberative Dialogues

A PowerPoint presentation for an NIF workshop on how to facilitate NIF deliberative dialogues.

Helps supplement learning in the webinar and bolster learnings from the in-person workshop.

Get The Public's Voice: Building Community Engagement through Deliberative Dialogues

Issue Guide: Safety & Justice

A guide for discussing safety and justice issues in the U.S., including community-police relationships and more.

Helps provide a framework for discussing safety and justice using the NIF model.

Get Issue Guide: Safety & Justice

Common Ground for Action

NIF's online platform for deliberative dialogue.

Provides opportunities for participation in online dialogues, as well as online trainings for online moderators. Libraries can utilize this platform for free.

Get Common Ground for Action

NIFI Materials

NIF's full collection of Issue Guides, forms, publications and more.

Provides additional materials for forums and resources for convenors and moderators.

Get NIFI Materials


These resources are offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) that seeks to strengthen libraries' roles as core community leaders and agents of change. LTC: Models for Change is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

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Get started with the free e-course, "Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries."

LTC: Accessible Small and Rural Communities will offer more than $7 million in grants to better serve people with disabilities.

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Learn basic facilitation skills with ALA's free guide, "Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries."