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Innovations in Democracy: An Evaluation of the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council

Discussions about participatory democracy frequently focus on levels of participation and its direct effects on policy-making. A new model for community dialogue has been developed called The Wisdom Council. This model focuses on high-quality conversation in a small group of participants, with a goal of affecting overall community conversation. Despite, or because of, its newness, there have been no critical evaluations of this approach. Recently, a Wisdom Council was held in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. This 68-page thesis provides an evaluation of that event.

Specifically, this work makes two important contributions to our understanding of the Wisdom Council model.

  • First, a comprehensive set of evaluative criteria has been developed to evaluate Wisdom Councils.
  • Second, that criteria is applied to the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council held in late 2003. The results highlight some of the success and limitations of implementing a "dialogic" public participation model.

Elliot David Shuford

A thesis presented to the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management and the Graduate School of the University of Oregon in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Public Administration (2004)

Resource Link: www.wisedemocracy.org/papers/InnovinDemocracyRVWC.pdf

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