|Advisory Committee on Pesticides, 1963|
|Project Profile || Background || Roles || Resources|
Teaching Notes -- Discussion Guide
The aim is for participants to not merely express their views, but to develop a joint recommendation. Reasoning is central. Thus, one major role of the discussion leader is to ensure that comments clearly articulate the reasons for a particular claim, based on evidence, ethical principles or other shared values. A helpful standard for facilitators is a courteous journalistic tone of gathering information and seeking clarity.
Another role of the discussion leader is to ensure that all stakeholder voices are addressed in developing the final decision(s). See table below as a general guide for where to expect, and possibly draw out, particular positions. Students often exhibit a tendency to "correct" history to reflect modern interpretations. The discussion leader can help amplify the contemporary disagreement in 1963. Similarly, the leader can help clarify items of disagreement and actively engage those with contrary perspectives in fruitful exchange.
The leader may wish to clarify, possibly through group discussion, the standards for agreement -- consensus, simple majority, 2/3 majority, or other.
Where the aim is to write a collective document, language can possibly be excerpted from individual position statements or proposals, with the final document a "collage." The Wiesner role may include compiling the final report, in lieu of an original position paper.
The other major challenge for leading discussion in this simulation is helping to deepen the level of discussion, especially where participants may be underprepared. For example, policy proposals may be vague -- advocating a position, not concrete actions or remedies that embody that position. Participants may need to be encouraged and supported in developing specifics.
Also, students tend to appeal to "easy" solutions, such as "we need more research" -- thereby avoiding the "real" issues of managing any current problem. Decisions must often me made under circumstances of scientific uncertainty or incomplete knowledge. Again, one may need to offer further guidance:
The Extension Activity, on whether Carson should receive the Medal of Freedom, allows deeper discussion of Carson's rhetoric and persuasive methods, the relationship of her scientific claims to her emotional imagery, the relevance of arguments about the control of nature, and her scientifically unfounded claims about the "balance of nature."
The following table lists the various issues and maps them to the particular roles: