South Dakotans have chance to discuss nation’s future

South Dakotans have chance to discuss nation's future Citizens in South Dakota will be able to debate free trade or protectionism; environmental preservation or economic development; open borders or barred doors at their local library as part of a nationwide program on America's future.

The program, Choices for the 21st Century: Defining Our Role in a Changing World, is a four-part reading and discussion series that will be held in four South Dakota communities and will coincide with the 2000 presidential campaign. Participants will wrestle with the broad question of our nation's role in the world and look at the ways in which foreign policy decisions affect our domestic priorities.

The South Dakota Humanities Council is coordinating the program which was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. More than 140 "Choice" series will take place in libraries across the country in 2000. Community and educational groups will also be invited to participate in Spring 2000.

The format of the series enables participants to explore changes taking place in the world, weigh national priorities, and discuss together � in a neutral, public library setting � the directions U.S. policy should take in the post-Cold War era. Because the program examines the values underlying policy choices, and not their technical and political feasibility, this four-part series attracts a general audience. A local humanities scholar will serve as discussion leader at each site.

At the end of the series, participants are invited to complete a ballot expressing their vision and concerns regarding the U.S. role in the world. Results of these ballots are compiled � along with those from other participating libraries around the country � and a report sent to elected officials, the news media, and participating libraries.

Four South Dakota libraries will be selected to participate in the program. The "Choices" series was developed by the "Choices for the 21st Century Education Project" at Brown University in Providence, RI, and since 1992, more than 8,000 people have participated in similar discussions. "Choices" high school curricular materials have been used in more than 4,5000 schools. Interested librarians or community groups should contact Jeanne Jones Manzer at the South Dakota Humanities Council for more information.

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