Research and Study
The Board of Directors consults with members, citizens and local officials to review major issues and concerns facing our region. At least a year before the forum date, the main topic is selected.
Expert researchers are called upon for a comprehensive analysis and thorough study of the topic. At least one or more of Arizona’s three state universities, (Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and University of Arizona), the Arizona Town Hall (the model for our organization), government agencies, and private research institutions have participated in this important research effort.
The Research Team then publishes a thorough background report that is provided to participants giving each of them a good base of knowledge for the small group discussions that take place at the Forum. Background research may also be referred to during discussions and deliberations when the time comes to craft recommendations or proposed solutions.
The Forum's Background reports comprise a unique, comprehensive summary of valuable information about our region and the topic at hand. It would take hundreds of hours of individual research to compile such a succinct and well organized document were it not for the fine work of our research committee and its partners.
Great care is taken in nominating forum participants. The only goal is to have the most accurate demographic sampling that it’s possible to achieve -- from the standpoints of age, gender, career status, occupation and locale.
High school and community college students are invited to participate with adults, assuring a diversity of knowledge and capabilities. This provides imaginative proposals and realistic conclusions on the topic.
Analysis and Discussion
Years ago when we were still known as The Sedona Academy, our annual Forums ran for three and half days. Due to today's time constraints and busy schedules, we have pared the process down to an evening and a day.
When participants arrive at the Forum location, they are registered, provided with a name tag and a packet of materials that includes the short biographies of all participants. A background report is no longer distributed because it is now accessible only online. The registration packet also contains an agenda, names of staff members, facilitators and other key individuals.
There is always some time provided to meet and greet other participants before the first evening's program begins. At the Friday night session, dinner is provided followed by a keynote speaker whose presentation sets the tone for the next day's topics.
Participants return the next morning to gather for breakfast together followed by another relevant speaker or panel discussion before the day's work really begins in the breakout panel discussions. Each participant is assigned to a table with approximately 9 others along with a moderator and recorder.
Groups meet during the morning and for part of the afternoon session. During the afternoon lunch break, stimulating speakers, all experts in their fields, provide presentations relevant to the group sessions to follow. During breaks, the interchange of ideas with the members of other discussion groups can provide stimulation for the discussions.
In summary, Forums usually involve these elements:
- Kickoff and keynote talk
- Breakout group discussions
- Featured speakers at mealtimes
- Final plenary session
Developing the final report
During each panel discussion, the recorder summarizes the participants’ ideas in writing and later presents them orally to the Forum Moderator and Forum Recorder who begins to compose the beginnings of what will eventually become a Final Report. After the Forum adjourns, a team composed of writers and editors polish the initial drafts until the desired finished result is achieved and the final report is eventually published and available on our website.