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Center For Public Deliberation Header

What is Public Deliberation?

Public Deliberation, simply defined, is the discussion and choice-making that is necessary before we can solve problems that affect our communities together. In other words, before we can choose where we want to build the road, we need to consider the various values and interests we have as people. We need to also consider the costs and the trade-offs we are willing to accept for our values.

Public Deliberation Meeting Photograph More broadly, public deliberation is the name we use to discuss the various models of communication which are designed to help citizens form their own political voice. In fact, many public deliberation "approaches" have been developed and researched. The model studied since 1981, is the National Issues Forum, but other approaches to deliberation include Everyday Democracy, AmericaSpeaks, Deliberative Polling, Citizen Juries, and many more. Regardless of the specific approach taken, public deliberation holds certain distinguishing characteristics.

Characteristics of public deliberation? (click to find out more)

How does public deliberation differ from focus groups or town hall meetings?
(click to find out more)

What do individuals and the community gain from participation?
(click to find out more)

What do community leaders, decision makers and government gain from working with the reports generated from deliberative forums as well as listening, participating, sponsoring and encouraging public deliberation?
(click to find out more)

What does the National Issues Forums (NIF) model of deliberation look like in action in Houston?  (click to find out more)

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Last updated or reviewed on 6/15/10

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