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Beginning with the End in Mind: A Call for Goal-Driven Deliberative Practice

This 2009 essay written by Martín Carcasson for Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE) presents a conceptual framework to help practitioners more systematically consider both the short-term and long-term strategies that inform and guide their efforts. The framework outlines six distinct but interrelated goals for deliberative practitioners to target, organized in three groups. The first-order goals are issue learning, improved democratic attitudes, and improved democratic skills. The second-order goals more directly connect to action and include improved community action and improved institutional decision making. Lastly, the third-order goal is improved community problem solving. The word “community” is purposely ambiguous. Download here.

The paper explores how a clearer understanding of the goals and purposes we are trying to achieve through public engagement can sharpen our methods and increase our impacts. It offers a practical framework to help practitioners systematically consider both their short-term and long-term goals and the strategies that will set them up for success.


Also check out the “Goals of Dialogue & Deliberation” graphic created by NCDD director Sandy Heierbacher in collaboration with Martin Carcasson, Will Friedman and Alison Kadlec. Sandy was inspired by Martin’s paper to create this image, which showcases the 3 types of goals for public problem-solving work. More background about this graphic can be found at https://ncdd.org/rc/item/3636. (Click on the graphic to view a larger image.)

In his paper, Carcasson points out that although “first-order goals” like issue learning and improved democratic attitudes are often discounted as we focus on our primary goals related to concrete action and impact on policy, those first-order goals still impact the big-picture goal of increasing a community’s civic capacity and ability to solve problems.

Resource link for the article: http://www.publicagenda.org/files/pdf/PA_CAPE_Paper2_Beginning_SinglePgs_Rev.pdf

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