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Reports and articles on dialogue, deliberation, public engagement and conflict resolution.

Playing for the Public Good: The Arts in Planning and Government

Arts and culture play a crucial role in increasing, diversifying, and sustaining public participation, navigating contentious issues, and fostering productive public dialogue and decision making. In 2013, Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, published Playing for the Public Good: The Arts in Planning and Government – a trend paper that highlights a wide range of arts and culture-based projects or programs that broaden participation and deepen meaning beyond typical planning processes and/or governmental systems and structures. When governmental and civic entities employ the arts to engage people in public processes, […] (continue)

Community Rhythms: Five Stages of Community Life

Communities have rhythms to them that we must come to understand so that our approaches, programs and initiatives — and the building of public capital — work with those rhythms, take advantage of them, even accelerate them. This 1999 report from the Harwood Institute describes five stages of community life: The Waiting Place, Impasse, Catalytic, Growth, and Sustain and Renew. According to the Harwood Institute, while a community can accelerate its movement through the Stages of Community Life, it cannot violate, or simply pass over, […] (continue)

Envisioning the Role of Facilitation in Public Deliberation

This 2013 article by Kara Dillard argues that academic research has neglected a critical factor in promoting successful citizen deliberation: the facilitator. In outlining a continuum of a facilitator’s level of involvement in deliberative dialogues, the author finds that facilitators are important to the forum process. More academic investigations into facilitator actions should reveal more of the logic that turns everyday political talk into rigorously deliberative forums emphasizing quality argument and good decision-making. (continue)

The Future of Family (IF Discussion Guide)

The Future of Family, a discussion guidebook from the Interactivity Foundation (IF), examines possibilities for public policy on family life distilled from a series of small-group discussions that wrestled with a wide range of questions and concerns for the future of family, including— In a culturally diverse society, what roles should cultural heritage play in policy decisions about the family? Different cultures have different ideas about how families are formed, how big they should be, and the roles people have within them. How should we address our […] (continue)

Making Public Participation Legal

Most of the laws that govern public participation in the U.S. 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 administrators and public engagement practitioners are hindered by the fact that it’s unclear if many of the best practices in participation are even allowed by the law. Making Public Participation Legal, […] (continue)

Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better

In November 2013, Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center released a new report called Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better. As part of the research, we looked at more than 170 different technological tools now available to funders, dove deeply into the literature on philanthropic collaboration, analyzed the results of recent Foundation Center surveys, and spoke with a wide range of experts from the worlds of both technology and philanthropy. The Harnessing Collaborative Technologies report helps readers make sense of the dizzying array of technologies that are now […] (continue)

Integrating News Media, Citizen Engagement, and Digital Platforms Towards Democratic Ends

This 5-page AmericaSpeaks report examines how we might use new forms of media, digital platforms, and citizen engagement principles to reengage the center and those who have turned out due to apathy and disgust. The report discusses some of the issues that need to be considered to bring the power of new technology and the digital world to the complexity of media, citizen engagement, and politics.  What needs to happen in today’s new news space to prevent many of the same structures of inequity, exclusion, and […] (continue)

Public Collaboration in Maine: When and Why It Works

Government by itself cannot address all complex public policy issues. The authors of this 2010 article in the Maine Policy Review write that “public collabo­ration” can alter the discourse on divisive local, regional, and state issues. Public collaboration is a process in which people from multiple sectors (government, business, nonprofit, civic, and tribal) work together to find solutions to problems that no single sector is able to resolve on its own. The authors describe the common features of effective public collaboration and provide detailed case […] (continue)

From Dialogue to Action: Climate Dialogues and Climate Action Labs

This 2008 article by Phil Mitchell shows how a global issue like climate change can be handled gracefully at the local level with little funds by working in collaboration with the existing infrastructure provided by local environmental organizations. (Vol 2 Issue 2 of the International Journal of Public Participation, December 2008) Abstract: The Greater Seattle Climate Dialogues is a climate change education and advocacy project with its roots in dialogue and deliberation. Using an adapted study circles model, the purpose of its Climate Action Labs […] (continue)

Human Migration: Policy Possibilities for Public Discussion

The Interactivity Foundation (IF) has recently published a discussion guidebook entitled “Human Migration: Policy Possibilities for Public Discussion.” The guidebook was edited by IF Fellow Ieva Notturno, who also managed the long-term project and two discussion panels that explored and developed the ideas that resulted in the six policy possibilities listed below and further outlined in the guidebook. The discussion panelists initially worked thru a series of fundamental questions and concerns about human migration, including “What could human migration mean? What are the forces that […] (continue)