Q: What is CACTUS?
A: CACTUS stands for Citizens’ Assembly for Critical Thinking about the United States.
Q: What is a Citizens’ Assembly?
A: Citizens’ Assemblies are groups of randomly chosen citizens from all walks of life who are invited to meet, study a topic, consult with the public, debate, and make a recommendation for approval by the voters. Citizens’ Assemblies on Electoral Reform have been created by governments in Canada and the Netherlands, and a proposal for one has been introduced in California’s legislature.
Q: How will CACTUS resemble these?
A: CACTUS meets weekly during the spring semester to learn, consult, debate, and seek consensus about a topic of public significance. It is modeled on the format developed in those countries. As part of CACTUS, you will get to place the Assembly’s recommendation before the EKU community and try to win support for it.
Q: How will CACTUS differ from these?
A: CACTUS has a course number (POL 301) and you will get a grade and three credit hours for participating. CACTUS also may be used for BLOCK VII General Education credit, for a political science elective, or a general elective.
Q: WHO should sign up for CACTUS?
A: YOU should…if You are tired of “politics as usual”… You are tired of “classes as usual”… You want to serve your country by becoming a more engaged citizen… You want to gain ability and confidence in speaking in front of others, working in small and large groups, thinking critically, debating and reasoning together, and develop your reading, writing, constructive listening skills… You want to learn whether there is a better way to do democracy than partisan bickering, trite clichés and media sound-bites.
Q: Will CACTUS have exams and assignments?
A: CACTUS will be unlike any class you have taken. Yes, there will be some exams and assignments. However, much of your time will be spent working together to think about options, whether there is a need for change, and what direction it should take.
Q: Must I know a lot about politics to participate?
A: No. Citizens’ assemblies are based on the belief that ordinary citizens, given adequate education and information, can debate and reason together and make informed consensual political decisions.
Q: Will there be a lot of required group work outside of class time?
A: No. CACTUS will consist of large group and small group sessions during the weekly meeting time. There will be some individual work and discussion board opportunities between CACTUS meetings, you may choose to host or participate in a public hearing on campus at a different time.
Q: Will I be required to speak in front of a large group?
A: No. While we hope that as you become informed, you will feel increasingly comfortable speaking in front of others, you will be interacting in small groups and discussion boards as well as plenary (full) sessions. Also you will to voice your opinion through your vote on the Assembly’s final decision.
Q: Who should I contact about CACTUS?
Dr. Jane Rainey
Dr. Glenn Rainey
Dr. Joe Gershtenson