4 Great New Papers from Public Agenda    

The team at Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE) — an organizational member of NCDD, we’re proud to say — has recently released four great new papers, all examining the latest developments for professionals in deliberative democracy, and all worth reading and freely downloadable from www.publicagenda.org/cape!

Here are the papers: 

Beginning with the End in Mind: A Call for Goal-Driven Deliberative Practice
By Martin Carcasson, Ph.D., Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University

What do we hope to accomplish by giving “ordinary” citizens a greater voice and role in public life?  This essay explores how a clearer understanding of the goals and purposes we are trying to achieve through public engagement can sharpen our methods and increase our impacts. It offers a practical framework that can help any practitioner think through critical questions about their work before, during and after public deliberation processes.

Promising Practices in Online Engagement
By Scott Bittle, Chris Haller, Alison Kadlec

The Internet’s revolutionary impact on information-sharing and network-building is having an increasingly powerful impact on public life. So far, however, the deliberative democratic potential of the medium has been less fully explored than has its application to electoral and interest group politics.  This piece highlights multiple approaches to how the Internet can help build capacity and momentum for inclusive, collaborative and boundary-crossing problem solving on both the national and local level.

Beyond Debate: Impacts of Deliberative Issue Framing on Group Dialogue and Problem Solving
By Alison Kadlec and Will Friedman

This report builds on ideas developed in the CAPE publication Reframing Framing by summarizing research that explores the impacts of framing issues for deliberation (in contrast to framing them for persuasion). How one frames an issue can effect the ability and willingness of citizens to productively discuss issues and come to thoughtful judgments. The data suggests that when issues are framed for deliberation:

  • Group discussions tend to be more analytic and less ideological.
  • People tend to spend less time venting about the system and more time asking questions about the problem.
  • They are more willing to confront hard choices rather than settle for pat and easy answers.
  • Their conversation tends more towards seeking solutions and less towards circular, redundant arguments.

Democracy, Growing Up: The Shifts that Reshaped Local Politics and Foreshadowed the 2008 Presidential Election
By Matt Leighninger, Deliberative Democracy Consortium

In his recent book, The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule is Giving Way to Shared Governance-And How Politics Will Never Be the Same (2006), Matt Leighninger analyzes the quiet revolution in democratic governance that has been occurring in hundreds of communities over the past two decades. In this piece, Leighninger updates his main argument that a shift in citizen attitudes and capacities has caused new tensions between citizens and government, produced new public actors and problem-solvers, and inspired a new generation of civic experiments.

Dan Yankelovich, chairman and co-founder of Public Agenda, and Will Friedman, chief operating officer and director of Public Engagement, have a new book entitled Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World, expected in late 2009.

Public Agenda’s public engagement team was created to study and share what Public Agenda has learned about the practice and science of public engagement and to consider new tools to use and innovative approaches to take within that field.  Major support for CAPE has been provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. CAPE products have also been developed through work done in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation.

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