The Franklin Forum is an educational outreach program sponsored by the Prometheum. It takes the form of a moderated discussions on political or philosophical issues and is open  to students, teachers, parents and other members of the community.

The Franklin Forum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Mission

The mission of the Franklin Forum is to initiate and foster a lifelong habit in students of reflecting upon, discussing, and evaluating societal issues and public policy, and casting a knowledgeable vote. The Forum accomplishes this by engaging students in the arena of public discourse where participants test their opinions, hear opposing views, and debate current issues. This is conducted in a free and open exchange among their peers and people invited from the community, where all opinions are equal in value. The Forum helps students gain an appreciation of our democratic principles while developing self-confidence, self esteem, respect for the opinion of others and the ability to effectively communicate their views.


Franklin Forum Overview

The Franklin Forum is based on a simple premise, one clearly understood by our founding fathers - Democracy Demands Discussion, Discourse, and Debate.

The Franklin Forum is this principle of democracy in practice. It places people in the arena of public debate; allowing them to test their opinions, hear opposing views, and debate current issues, all in a setting with a free and open exchange of ideas. The Forum teaches civility in civil discourse, the ability to disagree and still be agreeable even in a passionate exchange of views.

Applied to the high school environment, the Forum obliges students to discuss issues and defend their opinions among their peers and adults; it forces them to think more seriously and analytically about an issue and its ramifications. Rather than depending on knee-jerk reactions or a crowd mentality, students begin to form their own political philosophy as well as an understanding of the fundamental principles of government and society. They discover that their opinions matter and that it is important they be able to articulate those opinions. This will lead to better students and better citizens.

A representative democracy needs citizens who discuss and evaluate issues and vote with an educated opinion. Unfortunately the climate of political discussion today is prohibitive, often degenerating into name calling. Discourse has become coarse. We often only watch news programs, listen to radio stations, and read newspapers that agree with our political bias. Many formulate opinions based on peer pressure or a "team" mentality, often not listening to the reasoning of the opposing view but instead accusing those who hold it of bad intentions.

It seems that we are losing the ability to discuss difficult, controversial, or even simple issues without losing our temper. The Franklin Forum was created to change that dynamic. In it one can challenge any viewpoint and is equally challenged in his or her own. The best aspect of the Forum is that it almost always ends with the participants more friendly when they walk out then when they came in.

Young people, especially from lower socio-economic levels and those with challenging family lives, often feel disconnected from society and detached from their community. The Franklin Forum gets students engaged in the world outside their circle and provides a significant link with the community and to adult role models outside the school.

The Franklin Forum begins a process of participation in a democratic society at the most basic level - by encouraging involvement in the public discourse. It gets people to think about issues and public policy. It makes better citizens who can communicate their views, respect the opinions of others, and are more prepared to cast their vote.

For more information contact:

Stephen Bowling
sbowling@prometheum.org

The Franklin Forum, Inc.
300 Bedford Street
Stamford, CT 06901



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