The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

Mar 23rd
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Home Workshops Sydney 2011 Research Proposals

Sydney 2011 Research Proposals

Each article under this category describes a research proposal presented to the Deliberative Democracy Workshop for consideration in February 2011 at Sydney. Each will be subject to comment, deliberation and prioritisation.

An online deliberative process that delivers legitimacy

Research the design of online processes that would translate face-to-face deliberative methods such that they deliver the promises of deliberative democracy--effectiveness and legitimacy, while at the same time delivering the promises of online in terms of efficiency (cost, time, accessibility) and scale.

Idea: combine with world wide view process-replicate the face-to-face with an online process for the 22 May 2012 session.

Australia Board of Technology

Sister institute to Danish Board of Technology.

Research how to lobby the three independents to support setting up the Australian equivalent of the Danish Board of Technology. Then undertake a joint research project together.

Bringing deliberation into existing policy forums i.e. citizens advisory committees & expert panels

To what extent can existing arenas of policy debate become more effective through deliberative and inclusive interventions?

This project will examine how debates and decision making occurs in diverse venues of public debate such as advisory committees, stakeholder roundtables and citizen appointed committees. It will examine their deliberative capacity, inclusiveness and consider possible collaborative interventions.

Expected project outcomes include:

  • improved performance of different sites of public debate
  • insights into the inner-workings of committees, boards, etc. which are often neglected by D&D
  • opportunities to influence legislation/policy on the design of future forms of public inquiry
  • unique study of policy arenas including legislated citizen committees (S86 committees in Victoria)
Organisational Partner (practitioner): Janice Lane, Manager, Community Development, Surf Coast Shire

Combining stakeholder and citizen processes for impact

Governments convening programs of ‘citizen engagement’ often have separate streams for “citizens” and “organized stakeholders”. Many deliberative democrats focus exercises on individual citizens, sometimes with other ways of involving stakeholder groups (e.g. in developing briefing materials or as expert witnesses). And there are collaborative processes that blend these groups more fully. (Stakeholders are of course also citizens, and citizens bear sectoral interests—but the categories are still powerful in much of our work as researchers and practitioners.)

(1) Our research will inventory different configurations of stakeholder and citizen inputs to policy making processes, keeping the research manageable by focusing on deliberative forms of citizen work, and on policy processes around environmental sustainability at the local level. (2) We will explore the rationales offered by conveners and process designers for particular ways of combining (or separating) stakeholder and citizen participa...


Comparative analysis of hybrid (online + F2F) deliberation

While many focus on the potential of online deliberation on its own, there may be advantages to combining both online and face-to-face phases sequentially in a single process.

There have been several projects that have already completed with both online and F2F phases.

This project will compare these projects to identify features and attributest that contributed to their success (and otherwise), and point in particular to the strengths of online deliberation when applied in this manner.

Practice partners include designers of existing online platforms (eg. Brian Sullivan, Civic Evolution)

Deliberating in School

Action Research Process to trial and document/evaluate transforming a traditional school (disadvantaged) into a deliberative system of governance.

  • building civic governance
  • learning about governance
  • improving educational outcomes
  • exploring youth generated deliberative structures
  • possible research and funding partners.

Deliberation at its best - learning from different cultural contexts

Champions: Karen Cronin, with input from John Dryzek, Kennie Carbon, John Gastil, Michael Cuthill, Mark Warren

Partners confirmed: Dr Jessica Hutchins (indigenous researcher), Dennie Carbon (local gov't)

This research would require an international team  to develop an appreciation of best practices in deliberation--drawing out the norms, experiences, forms and practices found in a range of cultures in different parts of the world. The focus would be on deliberation i.e. forms of engagement that allow for effective exploration of the dimensions of an issue or proposal, draw on best available knowledge, assess and weigh options, come to a robust conclusion, etc. Requires an 'a priori' view of 'best practice' deliberation -- which could be drawn from practices in a range of cultures/research team participants. It would then identify practices, models, innovations in different cultural settings that have the potential to inform D&D practice and theory internationally.

Notes: Builds on existin...


Disaster response and deliberation - building climate change resilience

Using current (QLD/VIC) and emergent disasters as an action research space to

  1. understand current processes.
  2. understand how deliberative democracy processes can be embedded within disaster recovery.
  3. understand how D&D can impact on the way communities respond to climate change
  4. provide recommendations and an action plan/s for future interventions.


  • Disasters can provide an opportunity and a catalyst for change
  • Using / recognising D&D potential to assist with smoother transitions from response to recovery and to reinvention.
  • Interested in broadening the conversations through mainstream and social media.
  • Finding ways to scale up these approaches, including D&D from local to global level.

Embedding D&D practices in organizations, government and the community

  1. Identify examples of when deliberative activities/processes in both the public and business sectors that have led to the intent or practice being embedded or institutionalised (the way we do business around here).
  2. What are the characteristics/conditions that can be identified from those examples that created the embedding/the change.

How do young people (under 25) respond to current ideas for a post-partisan politics

Using a deliberative youth jury process designed by young people themselves, offer various proposals as alternatives to partisan politics.

Also convene a senior's jury using the same process.

Compare results, determine participants' respective visions.

This cross-generational comparison will be fascinating for deliberative democracy researchers.

The results and the process itself will be transferable to organisational developement settings.

In what ways could deliberative democracy help elected representatives do their job better?

An action research project to educate politicians in how D&D would help them serve and represent the public more effectively. A D&D style forum run by practitioners, with academic input, would explain the D&D concept, showcase success stories, enable politicians to question and debate, and work to develop a toolkit for the practical application of D&D in their daily work. Research would measure pre- and post- forum attitudes, and results would be disseminated to international academic and practise audiences.

Notes: Focus would be on Australian and New Zealand elected representatives at the local, state and federal levels, selecting a sample of new MPs. Findings disseminated/compared internationally so are of use to practitioners and academics in the US, Canada, etc.

Understanding the Pathways towards Collaborative Governance

This is an exploratory, qualitative, action research project using at least two ongoing innovations in collaborative governance (creating DD in Geralton region and gov'ts, NGOs, foundations working together in community, Canada)

Research questions:

  1. What do we know about collaborative governance from all perspectives, with a focus on pathways to achieve this.
  2. What's working and how do we get more of this?
  3. What will make it sustainable? (adapting and co-evolving)
  4. What are participants' experiences?


  • We want to use the NCDD and IAP2 networks to encourage international collaboration.
  • This will be descriptive, reflective, responsive, collaborative research.

West Australia was the most 'deliberative' jurisdiction on the planet?

What can we learn about trying to embed deliberative processes into policy and decision making from what happened in Western Australia under Gallop's premiership?

"It was just a fad. We made sure it didn't go anywhere." (WA bureaucrat)

What is the legacy of a deliberative process?

What is the legacy of a deliberative process event on participants and their organisations after a deliberative event?

Context: 3 days; 18 countries (Japan, China, Aust., Pacific islands, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam); 35 participants

Discussion Topic: National efforts to prevent obesity in the Western Pacific region of the World Health Organisation.

Outcomes: track how outcomes of the event are followed up by participants and the WHO Regional Office at set points.

Partner: Steve Allender, WHO Collaborating Centre Co-director


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