The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

Mar 22nd
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News items of interest from around the world.

Frontiers of Democracy 2015

Frontiers of Democracy 2015

Frontiers of Democracy 2015 will take place in Boston on June 25-27.
While powerful forces work against justice and civil society around the world, committed and innovative people strive to understand and improve citizens’ engagement with government, with community, and with each other. Every year, Frontiers of Democracy convenes some of these practitioners and scholars for organized discussions and informal interactions. Topics include deliberative democracy, civil and human rights, social justice, community organizing and development, civic learning and political engagement, the role of higher education in democracy, Civic Studies, media reform and citizen media production, civic technology, civic environmentalism, and common pool resource management. Devoted to new issues and innovative solutions, this conference is truly at the frontiers of democracy.

More information, including a link to a registration page, can be found at

This year's Short Takes presenters will include include Tina Nabatchi, Harry Boyte, Tiago Peixoto, Hahrie Han, Abhi Nemani, Caroline Lee, Diana Hess, and Brenda Wright.

Frontiers of Democracy is a public conference, open to anyone who registers. It follows the Institute of Civic Studies, a seminar that is now closed for 2015:


What Kind of Democracy Do We Want?

What Kind of Democracy Do We Want?

"What Kind of Democracy Do We Want?," the latest DDC home movie, can now be viewed on the DDC Channel - It is a short, humorous look at the questions and challenges - new and old - we face in trying to build the kind of democracy we want. The video premiered at the Frontiers of Democracy conference in July 2013. 

Creating Community Solutions on Mental Health

Creating Community Solutions on Mental Health

On January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama called for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health” and directed Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education to launch a National Dialogue on Mental Health. Creating Community Solutions is an important part of the National Dialogue. The initiative - more information at - will give Americans a chance to learn more about mental health issues - from each other and from research. People who participate in these community conversations will determine if mental health is an important issue for their community and will discuss issues related to the mental health of young people.  They also will decide how they might take action to improve mental health in their families, schools, and communities. A number of the community conversations, convened by local mayors, will be supported by leaders from deliberative democracy organizations.

Responding to the Newtown Tragedy

Responding to the Newtown Tragedy

How should schools and communities respond to the Newtown tragedy? The DDC has produced, in partnership with the National School Public Relations Association, a guide for discussion and action on school safety and other issues raised by the events in Newtown. (DDC executive director Matt Leighninger serves on the board of NSPRA). A number of other deliberation practitioners contributed to this guide, including: Will Friedman of Public Agenda, John Dedrick and Brad Rourke of the Kettering Foundation, Martha McCoy, Pat Scully, and Molly Barrett of Everyday Democracy, and Martin Carcasson of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University. The guide can be downloaded free of charge on the DDC resources page. It is an NSPRA publication, so organizations wishing to reprint the guide should insert this language:

Reprinted with permission from the copyrighted article (Insert name of article and newsletter/publication/product), published by the National School Public Relations Association, 15948 Derwood Rd., Rockville, MD 20855;; (301) 519-0496. No other reprints allowed without written permission from NSPRA.


Making Public Participation Legal

Making Public Participation Legal

The DDC worked with a number of national associations to produce a model ordinance for public participation that is designed to help cities hold more productive, deliberative public meetings and online activities. The ordinance was combined with a suite of other engagement tools in a National Civic League publication called Making Public Participation Legal. The working group that developed this resource included representatives of the American Bar Association, International Municipal Lawyers Association, NCDD, National Civic League, National League of Cities, and International City/County Management Association, as well as leading practitioners and scholars of public participation.

Most of the laws that govern public participation in the United States are over thirty years old. They do not match the expectations and capacities of citizens today, they pre-date the Internet, and they do not reflect the lessons learned in the last two decades about how citizens and governments can work together. Increasingly, public officials and staff are wondering whether the best practices in participation are in fact supported – or even allowed – by the law. Over the past year, the Working Group on Legal Frameworks for Public Participation has produced new tools, including a model local ordinance and model amendment to state legislation, in order to help create a more supportive, productive, and equitable environment for public participation. At the Brookings event, members of the working group will discuss the new tools and the larger questions about how to strengthen the legal framework for public participation. Making Participation Legal is available on the DDC Resource Page.

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The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) is a network of practitioners and researchers representing more than 50 organizations and universities, collaborating to strengthen the field of deliberative democracy. The Consortium seeks to support research activities and to advance practice at all levels of government, in North America and around the world.

[Image: AmericaSpeaks' 21st Century Town Meeting]


JPD logoThe Journal of Public Deliberation is a collaboration between the DDC, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and the Center for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University. An online, refereed journal, JPD is the flagship publication in its field, and an important catalyst for the rapid growth of interest in democracy, citizenship, and participation. Find it at


DDC eBulletin

  • Want training in public participation? Choose the courses you want to see at the IAP2 Skills Symposium in late May – Trainers include Matt Leighninger, Tina Nabatchi, Steve Clift, Anne Carroll, Kyle Bozentko, and Marty Rozelle.
  • If we gave citizens more ways to measure democracy, they would have more ways to improve it – @TechPresident
  • Nonprofits that take advantage of new thick and thin forms of engagement can thrive – @GatesSunlight
  • “If forms of government can be likened to operating systems, current variants of democracy are like early, primitive versions of Windows.” “They are neither optimally functional nor user-friendly – they are buggy, susceptible to malware, and lack desired features.”
  • The “People’s Lobby,” which allows people to generate legislation for City Council consideration, and includes a deliberative phase, starts up in Provo, Utah –
  • “Morris Engaged,” which combines education, deliberation, and citizen-led action on climate change in rural Minnesota, has been named a finalist in the Environmental Initiative awards – @JeffersonCtr
  • The National Civic League has announced the finalists for the 2015 All-America City Award – @allamericacity
  • Can we fix voting, a part of democracy, without strengthening the other aspects of democracy? Probably not. And why would we, when the more participatory aspects of democracy offer so many other benefits? Unfortunately, none of those are mentioned in this piece, which is another example of why conflating “democracy” with voting doesn’t help.
  • “Rather than blame our leaders for the dysfunction, we need to change the game.” This article includes some examples of how engaging citizens in participatory ways – and treating democracy as more than just voting – can tackle problems like climate change that seem politically impossible to address.

DDC on social media

For news, resources, and updates on deliberation, participation, and democratic governance around the world, like DDC on Facebook, follow @mattleighninger on Twitter, or connect with mattleighninger on LinkedIn.

The Next Form of Democracy

Beneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. The stories of civic experiments in "The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance -- and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same" by DDC Executive Director Matt Leighninger show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics. Learn more...

Deliberative Democracy Handbook

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook is the first book to bring together the best practices and thinkin on deliberative citizen participation processes. Deliberative democracy is the nationwide movement to make citizen participation meaningful and effective. Learn more...

Deliberative Democracy Handbook Cover

Journal of Public Deliberation
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