Community College Civic Forum Series - "Touching the Future"

Community College Civic Forum Series - "Touching the Future"

NH’s Community Colleges are promoting civic participation through a three-pronged series that includes a new course on the presidential primary, presidential candidate forums at community college campuses, and “Granite State Conversations” with thought leaders on issues important to America’s future. Candidate forums and Granite State Conversations are open to the public. 

“The series will deepen students’ understanding of the political process and policy issues, offer greater access to the people running for office, and provide opportunities for candidates to discuss their positions on issues that are relevant to NH voters,” explained Ross Gittell, Chancellor of the Community College System of NH.

Stuart Wallace, NHTI professor, developed the course which helps students deepen their understanding of the political process and promotes engagement in our American democracy. 

Civic engagement is not just a right in our society, it is an obligation.  Our form of government was designed to be participatory in nature.  The New Hampshire presidential primary is an ideal way to engage students.  Students in this course will not just learn about the New Hampshire Presidential Primary and the issues facing our country today, but in meeting with presidential candidates and state leaders, students will learn how to ask the right questions and get good answers.”   - Stu Wallace, NHTI instructor of the Presidential Primary

The course is also available online to high school students as a dual credit program through eStart, a partnership between the community college system and the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School. See information about the course at

The pairing of presidential hopefuls with community college students in forum-style events is a new contribution to NH’s first-in-the-nation primary, which turns 100 years old in 2016.  The forums are designed to engage the diverse population at NH’s community colleges that is representative of the nation’s young adult and working adult population. 

Granite State Conversations will engage prominent thought leaders on topics including American democracy, healthcare, economics and poverty and opportunity in American communities.

“Community college education includes a focus on real-world application of knowledge and skills.  We do this extensively in technical and career programs.  A very important part of education is also about civic and social responsibility and awareness of policy issues affecting our country, and these forums will give our students the opportunity to directly engage in the process and help to lead the conversation.” - Ross Gittell, Community College System Chancellor.

There are seven community colleges in NH encompassing the state’s most urban and rural communities, including Nashua, Manchester, Concord, Portsmouth, Laconia, Claremont and Berlin, enabling a regional focus on issues that may range from the challenges of rural economic development, to high-tech job growth along the I-93 corridor, to urban crime, to the environment.

“These forums will occupy an important place in NH’s first-in-the-nation primary tradition. Our state is known for providing opportunities for candidates and voters to meet face-to-face and have authentic conversations about issues.  These forums will pair candidates with students studying civic engagement to deliver a rich dialog about the future of our state, nation and world.”   -  Lew Feldstein, a member of the forum series steering committee and retired CEO of the NH Charitable Foundation.

For more information, please submit a Request for More Information

Forum Series partners and sponsors:   Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Unitil, First Budget, Coalition for Job Creation, NH Charitable Foundation, NH Institute of Civics Education, the Couch Foundation, Live Free or Die Alliance, Lumina Foundation, WBIN, Northeast Delta Dental

The Community College System of NH and all of the colleges within CCSNH do not endorse a candidate, political party or party platform.

Upcoming events




Previous events in the forum series: 

"Granite State Conversation" on Fiscal Policy with The Honorable Judd A. Gregg, US Senator from New Hampshire, 1993-2011, former PA Governor Ed Rendell, Kevin Davis, CEO of Performance Sports Group, and Paul Montrone, CEO of Perspecta Trust.  January 25, 2016 at Great Bay Community College, 5-7 PM.  Please register by Jan. 20 at .

"Granite State Conversation" on The Opportunity Gap and Our American Democracy with Dr. Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis and Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. January 7, 2016, 5-7 PM at Manchester Community College, 1066 Front Street, Manchester NH. Attendance is free but space is limited. Please register prior to December 19, 2015 at Please Note: This event has been approved for 2 hours of Continuing Education Units by the NH Guardian ad Litem board.

"Granite State Conversation" on Civic Engagement and Education in American Democracy, with The Honorable Judd A. Gregg, US Senator from New Hampshire, 1993-2011 and The Honorable David H. Souter, Retired Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States. Includes remarks from Jamie Merisotis of the Lumina Foundation. Oct. 26, Nashua Community College.  View Video

Candidate forum with Secretary Hillary Clinton, Oct. 29, White Mountains Community College.

Candidate forum with Gov. Martin O'Malley, Oct. 16, NHTI Concord

Candidate forum with Gov. John Kasich, Oct. 15, Nashua Community College

Candidate forum with Sern. Lindsay Graham, Oct. 12, NHTI Concord