At the Dornsife Center, stakeholder engagement is central to how we operate. In 2012 Drexel University enlisted the help of the Future Search Network to develop a shared vision to guide our planning and development. Future Search is a deliberative and fully participatory process for convening all of a project's stakeholder groups to generate consensus that grows out of diverse past experiences, current strengths, and hopes for the future. Rather than simply leading participants to compromise, Future Search guides them in identifying common ground for a shared action plan. This feature makes it an ideal framework for helping us—Drexel University, Mantua, and Powelton Village—think together about what we want the Dornsife Center to become and what role we want it to play in a healthful, prosperous, and sustainable community.
We held a two-day Future Search planning workshop in April of 2013 and more than 60 people worked hard to create the foundation of our shared vision. Out of that workshop we established the Dornsife Community Advisory Council (DCAC), a 24-seat group that meets regularly to help keep the Dornsife Center true to that shared vision. We are currently planning a followup strategic planning process that will kick off in the fall of 2016.