Deliberative Democracy

A group of more than 30 students gathered in the Memorial Union to deliberate on the future of clean energy and practice their civic skills.

Carrie Chapman Catt Center hosted a discussion workshop over the pros and cons of clean energy and how the community can transition to renewable energy.

Karen Kedrowski, director of the Catt Center, who organized the event, was satisfied with how the clean energy presentation with Jon Carson and the workshop discussion went. 

Students had the opportunity to discuss three topics pertaining to clean, renewable energy. Students were divided into four small, separate groups to ensure everyone had the opportunity to speak.

Each group was given three topics to discuss, with each discussion topic lasting fifteen minutes. Briefing papers containing more specific information over how renewable energy works were made by Yu Wang, associate professor of global energy policy for the department of political science, and her students. The strategy options detailed what citizens could do to efficiently transition into using renewable energy to replace fossil fuels. 

One of the discussion points included the question: Should the U.S. become more self reliant through using renewable energy sources? One of the results was it could lead to the U.S. not being as involved in the Middle East for oil. Another was if the people themselves should limit their energy usage to combat climate change, or should the people focus on targeting big corporations as the culprits. 

Students pointed to European countries as examples of what to do to fight against climate change. Spain, for example, has an efficient public transportation system that helps reduce the amount of carbon emissions from individual cars. 

Others pointed out Iowa State University is updating its two coal-burning boilers to natural gas. Some students pointed out how it does not address the fact that the natural gas boilers still emit carbon into the atmosphere. 

At the end, all the groups came to multiple conclusions, however the groups agreed that the fight to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy is obtainable through community action. 

“I was expecting a whole lot of disagreements but we had a lot of consensus,” said Gabriel Shoop, a freshman majoring in history, when asked what was his takeaway from the discussion. 

Jacob Friedrich, a junior majoring in Horticulture, said he was pleased that the students were able to come to a conclusion that clean energy was a priority after the discussion ended. 

“That was really the goal of the effort was to really sort of practice this kind of civil and deliberative conversion about important policy issues,” said Kedrowski. 

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