The 36-page guide, Developing Materials for Deliberative Forums, was written by Brad Rourke and published 2014 on the Kettering Foundation site. In the guide, Rourke shares all the elements needed to design an issue guide to better inform participants during deliberation. An issue guide lays out multiple sides of a subject/issue to give participants tools to engage in more informed deliberation, the guide then offers examples of the options, as well as, drawbacks to each one. There is no one perfect way to develop an issue guide; so Rourke provides details on ways to design a guide that is effective at giving participants the information they need to deliberate on the issues at-hand.
Below is an excerpt of the article; it can be downloaded in full at the link on the bottom of this page or find it on Kettering Foundation’s site here.
From the guide…
Deliberation does not require a certain kind of guide, or framework, or language, or facilitator. But, because it can be difficult to face such choices, supporting materials can make it easier. Many community groups, national organizations, and others, including the National Issues Forums (NIF), develop materials meant to help groups deliberate together over difficult public issues. Through its research, the Kettering Foundation has learned about the kinds of materials that can spark this public work. This document explores the important elements involved in going from an initial topic to having a complete issue guide suitable to use in the kinds of deliberative forums that are the hallmark of the NIF.
Deliberative forums are used in different ways, depending on the community and who is involved. Some communities use them to set direction on important local issues. People in other communities may hold forums in order to give citizens the opportunity to think through an important national issue and what they and others might do about it. The results of deliberating together in these ways are sometimes passed on to public officials. Other times public officials personally take part in deliberating with other citizens.
There are many ways to create materials that will support such public deliberation. As long as they are accessible to all kinds of people, allow them to carefully consider options and weigh drawbacks, no one way is necessarily better than another. (more…)