Public Deliberation, simply defined, is the discussion & choice-making that is necessary before we can solve sầu problems that affect our communities together. In other words, before we can choose where we want lớn build the road, we need to consider the various values & interests we have sầu as people. We need to lớn also consider the costs & the trade-offs we are willing lớn accept for our values.

More broadly, public deliberation is the name we use to discuss the various models of communication which are designed to lớn help citizens khung their own political voice. In fact, many public deliberation "approaches" have been developed & researched. The Model studied since 1981, is the National Issues Forum, but other approaches to deliberation include Everyday Democracy, AmericaSpeaks, Deliberative Polling, Citizen Juries, and many more. Regardless of the specific approach taken, public deliberation holds certain distinguishing characteristics.

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Characteristics of public deliberation? 

1. Public deliberation is not just about experts. Public deliberation forums are structured so that titles, status, or position are not as highlighted or as important as in other arenas. Deliberative forums are designed to be spaces where the public"s input đầu vào is most important. Experts serve sầu an important role in society, but in these groups, we are less interested in experts informing on issues, và more interested in working through tough choices as a community of equals. We recognize that there will always be differences in power & knowledge levels within these groups, so we encourage people with power or expertise khổng lồ listen more in these contexts than they might be asked khổng lồ vì in other arenas. We believe that one of the important skills for experts to lớn develop, often not encouraged, is the ability khổng lồ listen và to be miễn phí from the expectation of others that they must know everything. Experts can only learn the values of the public, after all, if they listen to lớn the values of the public. In order for us to lớn have the best solutions for our community, we must all have our voices and values heard.

2. Public deliberation requires echất lượng of opportunity. In deliberative sầu forums, usually conducted in groups no larger than 25 people, all participants are equally encouraged to lớn speak. In addition, all ideas given by participants are recorded và compiled inkhổng lồ a report at the cchiến bại of a forums. By listening lớn and recording each participant"s input, regardless of status or title, all participants have an opportunity khổng lồ directly affect the outcome.

3. Public deliberation is about choice work, which is different from a dialogue or a debate. In dialogue, people often look to relate lớn each other, lớn understvà each other, and lớn talk about more informal issues. In debate, there are generally two positions & people are generally looking lớn "win" their side. Deliberation requires both dialogue & good argument, but it also requires something more. In deliberation, people are challenged together to lớn weigh carefully various approaches & the views of others, to make tough choices, & to consider the unpleasant and often emotional consequences & trade-offs of these choices.

4. Public deliberation requires diversity. Public deliberation requires that the individuals who come lớn the table khổng lồ deliberate be representative of the diversity in the community. By convening and holding diverse forums, people are able lớn make the best decisions because they are grappling together with people both similar and different from them.

5. Public deliberation seeks comtháng ground, not consensus or compromise. Consensus generally refers khổng lồ a type of decision where everyone needs to come lớn agreement within a group. While compromise refers to a decision where each person or "side" gives something up. In public deliberation, however, people may and usually don"t all agree. Rather, the goal of public deliberation is to lớn find comtháng ground, which means the "actions or policies that are acceptable khổng lồ a group whose individual members may still cherish different values and hold different opinions but have a shared frame of reference or sense of direction. As a practical matter, it is necessary to identify enough comtháng ground khổng lồ move ahead." (Melville, Willingham mê, và Dedriông xã, The Deliberative Democracy Handbook, p. 47)

How does public deliberation differ from focus groups or town hall meetings?

Public deliberation is different from most town hall meetings or public hearings because these meetings are normally either one-way communication (citizens to lớn decision makers or vice versa), or a conversation between citizens and decision makers, but likely not a conversation aước ao citizens.

Public deliberation is also different from most focus groups because generally people who run focus groups are attempting to lớn "capture" what people think. Opinion polls và focus groups, in fact, can be used to capture what people think, but they are not designed lớn really change the way people think -- và the way people think politically is normally one-sided.

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Those who practice public deliberation thiết kế, facilitate processes to have citizens talking to lớn each other, working through difficult issues và making tough choices. They are trying to move sầu people from having an individual opinion to lớn having more of a public judgment (see Daniel Yankelovich"s Coming to Public Judgment). Or, another way khổng lồ say this is, they are trying lớn expvà our sense of self-interest by asking us to lớn deliberate with others to lớn see how issues affect not just ourselves but our community. When citizens vì chưng this, we become problem solvers, rather than mere consumers or political spectators. And, part of the work of deliberative democracy is moving away from these images of citizens as mere "consumers" or "spectators" as these models on their own offer less productivity khổng lồ our community.

Decision-makers who participate in deliberative sầu processes begin to lớn respect the decisions made in these forums because usually they hear mostly from individuals with svào opposing positions. Legislators get calls và emails all day long from citizens complaining about this & that, many of whom, contradict each other (We need better roads! We need lower taxes! We need better health care! We need more regulation! We need less regulation!). So for them, more public participation means more complaining và more people talking past each other. The practice of public deliberation offers something different - it offers a way for people khổng lồ talk to lớn each other và confront the inherent tough choices that the legislators have to face.

What vì individuals & the community gain from participation?

People begin lớn experience themselves differently, feel that they have power over the decisions made in their community and that they make a difference. Deliberation lessens our tendency to "demonize" the other "side" and tries khổng lồ change a polarized battle over positions. Disagreement often becomes a starting point rather than an ending point. If we never decide first as community what is important when we make decisions, we are not ever going to get out of the polarized và positional fighting when we do make decisions. With deliberation, we dig deeper by putting the solutions to lớn a problem within the context of what people value.People become more engaged in important issues in their community. People begin lớn define citizenship as having to be more that just voting, just volunteering, just giving money, or just reading the paper & being a "spectator" of politics. When people"s input in considered, they go out và vote.When people"s input is considered, they want lớn volunteer more.When people know that their voices matter, they tkết thúc lớn educate themselves on the issues so they are prepared khổng lồ speak. Knowing that your voice will matter increases everyone"s willingness to be better informedWhen people"s đầu vào matters, they want productive sầu relationships with their government & with various members in their community. People also come lớn appreciate new - more productive -- ways of working in groups.While people vì chưng no tend khổng lồ change their values or opinions in one session or diễn đàn, they vày broaden their experiences & more favorably change their attitude toward the position they oppose & the people who hold that position.People tkết thúc to move from understanding how issues affect only themselves, to how they affect their community. People"s views don"t often change, but rather, they exp&. Participation in forums generally increases our connection with our community, broadens our social relationships, và gives us an appreciation for the diverse members in our community.

What bởi vì community leaders, decision makers & government gain from working with the reports generated from deliberative sầu forums as well as listening, participating, sponsoring và encouraging public deliberation?

Leaders và elected officials who consult with moderators about reports of forums or who participate in public deliberation tover to lớn get better outcomes than decisions that are made in a more top-down fashion (See Fung, A., & Wright, E.O. (2001, March). "Deepening Democracy: Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance." Politics & Society, 29(1), 18.)Public participation in forums also tends lớn increase the public"s trust of politicians because they come khổng lồ understand through the process of choice making just how difficult it is lớn make political decisions for a community. Those involved in public deliberation are trying khổng lồ create a new relationship between the public and government. We"ve sầu learned that public opinion polls often tell us what the public is thinking when they are not thinking. The value of deliberative sầu forums is that they result in reports that give sầu us a truly meaningful understanding of how the public thinks và values together. We"ve sầu learned in our retìm kiếm that when you compare what policy experts or those in the media are saying to what the public is saying, these reports often look very different. Public deliberation is another way to create that needed connection between the public, truyền thông, and the government. Public deliberation is not a cure-all, but when people have sầu to work through issues in ways the leaders bởi, leaders also find the input đầu vào of the public more valuable and less frustrating as leaders are held accountable for satisfying a wide - often contradicting - array of demands.

What does the National Issues Forums (NIF) mã sản phẩm of deliberation look lượt thích in action in Houston? 

Organizers select a national issue that has been framed by the National Issues Forums (NIF), lượt thích health care, energy, or the education gap. All members of a community or communities are invited to deliberate in a forums. Those who convene the forums also work lớn actively recruit diverse participation - political affiliation, race, gender, age, class, etc. Each participant has advanced access to lớn a booklet that holds three approaches lớn an important national issue. This NIF booklet uses the language of the public, not the language of experts, lớn frame và discuss the various approaches a community can take lớn begin solving a national issue. A video clip that summarizes the three approaches is also shown before people deliberate. Forums are structured so that citizens can come together khổng lồ discuss the three framed options in resolving the problem on the table. The goal of the discussion is not to choose an option from amuốn the three, but to use the wide range of the three options -- all with their own phối of values and insights about the problem -- to lớn better reveal the thoughts, feelings, concerns, & desires of the public. Every person is encouraged to lớn speak. People are also encouraged lớn watch themselves from "dominating" the conversation. Each person"s đầu vào is recorded by a recorder on a flip chart paper & then put inkhổng lồ a final report which also captures the public"s judgment or movement toward comtháng ground on the issue. Key leaders are identified on the issue & reports are sent lớn local & national leaders. On the national level, the reports are sent lớn the Kettering foundation & compiled inlớn a national report which results in Washington D.C. dissemination activities. On a local cấp độ, the more our Houston leaders take interest in this type of participation by the community, the more these reports can have sầu impact in Houston. However, often these deliberative sầu meetings result in a renewed awareness of avenues that citizens can also take on their own lớn make positive sầu changes in our community.
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