The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

Aug 24th
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** DDC eBulletin Vol.6 No.7 September 26, 2007 **
Subject: ** DDC eBulletin Vol.6 No.7 September 26, 2007 **
Send date: 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Issue #: 41

Deliberative Democracy eBulletin v.6 no.7 September 26, 2007

Enormous thanks to everyone who contributed items to the eBulletin; we have a great, packed edition this go round. Please email future items to Also, help us expand our reach and the visibility of public deliberation throughout the world: encourage your colleagues and friends to subscribe:
lars hasselblad torres
editor, ddc ebulletin


1 | New Deliberative Politics in the UK?
The Prime Minister has promised "a new type of politics" in an announcement of plans to broaden consultation in government decisions. In a speech to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations in London, Gordon Brown said that with the new political season starting this autumn [parliamentary recess ends on October 8th], it could no longer be "business as usual". More at:

2 | What Value to Online Polls Have?
SLOPS were originally "self-selected listener opinion polls" and now often refer to today's ubiquitous "self-selected online polls." As I found out in today's roundup on, Ron Paul's supporters are defrauding every SLOP that they can find. They've been excluded from one straw poll for their antics, and succeeded in winning a different poll about the latest republican debate based on text-message voting. At, we've had similar problems with ("freeps!") and other libertarians making sure that they were more than adequately represented in our polls. More at:

3 | CaliforniaSpeaks Engages Thousand on Health Care Reform
AmericaSpeaks recently convened 3,500 Californians across 8 cities simultaneously for a statewide conversation on health care. In addition to the importance of the issue and the scale of engagement, the effort wass notable for its use of a random recruitment outreach process at such a large scale. Read more about the deliberation and its findings at:


4 | A Citizens Jury First: Changing the PMs Mind on Cannabis and Casinos
In what might considered by some to be its "finest hour," the most universally popular, and long enduring method of deliberative democracy (The Citizen's Jury) has pulled off a political miracle. Early in September, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown attended and participated in a Citizen's jury process in Bristol, England. The subject was the public education system. This was to be the first of many such encounters with the citizenry in this particular format. The PM said it was part of his new thinking about how to really represent the people's wishes in governance. More at:

5 | Ontario Vote Set for October 2007 on Citizens Assembly Recommendations
As expected, the big news on citizens assemblies continues to come out of Ontario. All eyes are now focused on the referendum scheduled for October 10,when the public will have a chance to vote up or down on the Ontario Citizens Assembly's policy recommendations for an electoral system. On June 20, Ontario's Government announced the wording of the referendum question that will be placed on the ballot for the October 10 election. More at:

6  Recommendations of Netherlands' Citizens Assembly Being Considered by Parliament: Passage Unlikely 
In the Netherlands, despite the high repute with which the Citizens Assembly has been credited with conducting its business, the Parliament appears unlikely to pass its recommended reforms. This is ironic because the recommendations of the Netherlands Citizens Assembly were far more modest than the recommendations of the British Columbia and Ontario Citizens Assemblies. The key difference may be that in the Netherlands the Citizens Assembly's recommendations were purely advisory, whereas in British Columbia and Ontario they were put on the ballot as a referendum. More at:

*** OTHER NEWS ***

7 | [Book] Dewey's Critical Pragmatism: New Book Makes the Case for Deliberative Democracy
Public Agenda is pleased to announce the release of a new book by Senior Public Engagement Research Associate Dr. Alison Kadlec. Dewey's Critical Pragmatism is a cogent examination of philosopher and political theorist John Dewey's writings on pragmatism and is a rallying cry for soundly-constructed public engagement programs that fulfill Dewey's vision of "democracy as a way of life." The book is available for purchase directly from the publisher at:^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0739115499

Dr. Kadlec is the Associate Director of the Center for Advances in Public Engagement at Public Agenda. CAPE promotes innovation and effectiveness in the growing deliberative democracy movement. The Center works to create new and better ways for citizens to confront and talk about pressing public problems and for communities to overcome the gridlock and divisiveness that often blocks progress.

8 | Virginia Community Partnership Slate Two Fall Deliberations
A partnership of Falls Church City community organizations today announced community-oriented dialogues focused on a proposed "City Center project." "Deliberation Night" and "Deliberation Day" will be held on Thursday, October 25 and on Saturday, October 27 respectively. The topic of both the events is "The City Center Project" and three different, widely-held approaches to the development project -- including points in favor, trade-offs and critiques of each. A discussion guide outlining the approaches, and providing other background, will be available in advance at Following roundtable discussions led by students from George Mason High School and adult volunteers, a panel of experts will respond to questions posed by participants in order to provide context for discussions about the trade-offs that are inherent in public decision-making.

The effort is supported by the Center for Voter Deliberation ( and the Kettering Foundation ( For more information contact or

9 | [Call] Communication Scholar Seeks Cases for Deliberation and Journalism Study
Communication scholar David Ryfe (Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada Reno) is working on a project that compares the kind of journalism produced

within democratic experiments and the kind produced by local newspapers. His project, "Does Public Deliberation Require Journalism?" is intended to investigate the hypothesis that a community engaging in a democratic experiment will naturally produce journalism. If true, he'd like to learn something about the character of this journalism. Does it, for instance, take the form of blogs, listservs, websites or discussion guides? And how does this journalism compare to that produced by the local newspaper?

With these questions in mind, David is putting together a list of ongoing democratic experiments in communities around the United States; he is seeking to talk with people engaging in prominent and extensive democratic experiments. If anyone knows of experiments that might be included in his sample, please contact David Ryfe,

David Ryfe, Associate Professor, on 775-784-4894 or by email at:

10 | Was the Ontario Citizens Assembly an Historic "Monument?"
Freshly back from field research in Venezuela, democracy scholar Jason Diceman has a big question: "Was the Ontario Citizens' Assembly the Most Democratic Process in History?" Based on his analysis and comparisons so far it appears to him that the Ontario (and BC) Citizens' Assemblies on Electoral Reform were precedent setting in their combination of over 100 representative citizens getting weeks of topic focused adult education, public consultation input, 6 weekends of deliberation and an opportunity to make law if approved by binding referendum.

Read Jason's recent articles, including "Was the Ontario Citizens' Assembly the Most Democratic Process in History?" at:

11 | Major Donor Has Deliberation Questions
A few weeks ago, the founder of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation was interviewed by someone carrying out a scoping project for a major foundation that is considering launching a Public Engagement grant program area. The interviewer asked a couple of questions that the NCDD wanted to get input on. Please have a look over the following questions and send Sandy Hierbacher ( any resources or links to resources that you would recommend the foundation take a look at.

  1. What is known about the impact of public engagement efforts? What studies have been done?
  2. What scans of the field have been done?
  3. What is known about differences in the ways that disenfranchised groups, youth, women, and various cultural/racial groups participate in public discourse? Are you familiar with any studies of these groups' public engagement activities? Do you know of any organizations that focus on these populations?

12 | [Book] Two New Titles from the Kettering Foundation
In Speaking of Politics: Preparing College Students for Democratic Citizenship through Deliberative Dialogue, Wake Forest University Professors Katy J. Harriger and Jill J. McMillan describe their experiences following 30 Wake Forest students, the "Democracy Fellows," throughout their undergraduate years. The authors sought to discover whether the Democracy Fellows' experiences in learning and practicing deliberation -- a useful and civil way of "speaking politics" -- might counteract the alienation from public life that has overtaken so many young people today. Their research indicates that, upon graduation, the Democracy Fellows had the skills and the interests needed to become more involved and responsible citizens than their fellow students. In Speaking of Politics, the latest book published by the Kettering Foundation Press, Harriger and McMillan offer prescriptions for how deliberative practices might be adopted at other institutions of higher education as one important antidote to political disaffection among young people.

To order the book and read more about this Kettering Foundation Press publication, visit:

A new "issue book" on the national debt, prepared by the Kettering Foundation for the National Issues Forums Institute, is now available. The 32-page issue book, "The $9 Trillion Debt: Breaking the Habit of Deficit Spending," includes an overview of the problem, three possible approaches to the problem, and a two-page post-forum questionnaire to be completed by forum participants and returned to the National Issues Forums Institute in Dayton, Ohio. Discussions on the federal debt will take place in NIF forums in hundreds of communities as part of NIF's election-year season. The intent is to see what changes the American public can agree on as key elements in solving the political gridlock that surrounds this problem.

Download the guide at:

13 | [Conference] Collaborative Governance in the West
Oregon State University and Washington State University announce a one-day fall symposium, "Collaborative Governance in the West" October 1 to examine and advance understanding of collaborative governance of environmental and natural resource issues in the Western United States. Drawing on the top researchers and practitioners in the field, the symposium will feature public presentations, keynote speakers Bill Robbins and Diane Snyder, and a roundtable discussion concerning collaborative governance at Oregon State University. The major objective of the symposium is to generate provocative new ideas on collaborative governance in the West that will expand our knowledge about this phenomenon. We are interested in generating broad theoretical and interdisciplinary contributions that will shape future research and practice in the field.

For more information visit:

14 | [Paper] Series on Youth Civic and Political Participation in Canada
The Canadian Policy and Research Network (CPRN) has just released the first three papers of our series on youth civic and political participation which they hope will lead to more in-depth research and inspire more action to revitalize civic and policitical institutions in Canada. The papers are:

  • Indifferent or Just Different? The Political and Civic Engagement of Young People in Canada by Brenda O'Neill
  • A Group Apart: Young Party Members in Canada by Lisa Young and William Cross
  • The Meaning of Political Participation for Indigenous Youth by Taiaiake Alfred, Brock Pitawanakwat and Jackie Price

In October CPRN will releasing 3 more papers in the series:

  • The State and Potential of Civic Learning in Canada by Kristina Llewellyn, Sharon Cook, Joel Westheimer, Luz Alison Molina Giron and Karen Suurtamm
  • "What Do You Mean I Can't Have a Say?" Young Canadians and Their Government by Andre Turcotte
  • Rendre compte et soutenir l'action benevole des jeunes by Andre Thibault, Patrice Albertus and Julie Fortier  and
  • a synthesis paper - Lost in Translation:(Mis)Understanding Youth Engagement (working title)

To download the papers, please visit:

15 | [Paper] Series on Youth Civic and Political Participation in Canada
In response to an upswing of interest in the U.S. to finally break out of "election hype e-campaign" into something that an enduring mechanism that engages people in governance, online democracy scholar and entrepreneur Steve Clift has proposed a new two-way online community of practice for practitioners involved with non-partisan efforts to inform and engage the public in government, elections, politics, and media at the local, state, and national level through the Internet and new technologies. This effort is inclusive of those focused on deliberation and also includes those in online news/citizen media focused on "informing" or those promoting online access to government decision-making (on the inside and out) as well as those engaged with online voter education efforts.

The group is in its drafting stage, and you are invited to join at and to offer input to Steve at

16 | [Paper] Report on Canadian Consultation in Biobanking
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have published a final report on an innovative deliberative democracy event they ran in April/May 2007 - Biobanking in BC: A Deliberative Public Consultation. The participant information booklet and background information are also available at the project website More academic analyses of the event will be published soon.

Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is running a parallel deliberative community consultation on biobanking during September 2007, using a similar event design. More information is available at

17 | [Paper] New List on Participatory Budgeting in the US
There is a new e-mail listserv for Participatory Budgeting in the US.  This group formed as a result of the sessions held at the US Social Forum in Atlanta, George in June 2007. Interested persons can subscribe by sending an email to Juscha Robinson at or directly

18 | [Paper] Cross-media Participation Research
A summarizing article by Colorado University and PlaceMatters researcher Chris Haller on cross-media public participation has been published in the most recent Limehouse publication. The article outlines the key findings from the evaluation of two cutting-edge public participation projects in Berlin, Germany and ends with a list of recommendations for successful citizen engagement in an age of rapid technological changes and convergence of communication media.

Read the paper and comment at:

19 | Human Genetics Commission Launches Citizens Inquiry into Forensic Use of DNA
On the heels of Nuffield Council on Bioethics' report, "The Forensic Use of Bioinformation: Ethical Issues," the UKs Human Genetics Commission - the UK government's advisory body on genetics matters - has written that, "We are convinced that it is absolutely essential that the public is actively engaged in this debate and we hope to address many of the issues identified in the report in our forthcoming Citizens' Inquiry into the forensic use of DNA." The Citizens' Inquiry will take place later this year and will give a group of UK citizens the opportunity to explore social and ethical issues issues involved in the current and future use of DNA for forensic purposes. The findings of the Inquiry will inform the HGC's subsequent advice to Government on this issue. The Inquiry is being held in in partnership with Sciencewise, the ESRC Genomics Forum and the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre (PEALS) and is funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (through Sciencewise), the Wellcome Trust and the ESRC Genomics Forum.

For more information visit: