The Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy

Deliberative Events: New for 2012 Climate Change and Public Policy

Citizen Forums

The phrase Citizens Forum is adopted from Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies and follows their approach to "refining methods for bringing the voices of 'ordinary' citizens into the public arena and studying what happens when they deliberate together." We also draw upon a growing body of knowledge about how deliberative democracy works at the grassroots level – through, for example, Citizen Juries (the Jefferson Center), National Issues Forums (NIF), and large-scale town hall meetings (AmericaSpeaks).

Throughout all these applications of deliberative democracy – face-to-face and online – the tasks of representing issues, getting good samples, creating the conditions for well-structured conversations, and conducting useful surveys are enormous. The resources needed in terms of time and personnel are daunting. In short, the task of doing democracy, of making democracy stronger, is incredibly hard. But in today’s world, we have no other choice. And it is our hope that well-designed forums, augmented by well-designed online tools, will help in some way to bring about these needed changes.

Campus Conversations

Carnegie Mellon University is applying the concept and practice of deliberative polling at the campus level. The result of this effort is to (1) create social capital within the student body, (2) raise the level of campus-wide discussions of important issues to new levels, and (3) highlight the virtues of campus diversity, as this is embedded in the nature of deliberative polls.

These campus-wide polls will be held twice yearly on matters of relevance to the campus community. Each poll will educate the campus community about the many facets of, and interpretations of, the issues to be discussed.

Citizen Forums

Managing Marcellus: A Deliberative Theatre

Fall 2011

An innovative approach to the challenges and opportunities of The Marcellus Shale, produced by WQED.

Local Government at the Crossroads

September 25, 2010

The Issue of Marriage In America

September 27, 2008

The first ever statewide deliberative poll on same-sex marriage.

District 3 Initiative

Spring/Summer 2007

A district-level deliberative poll on issues of relevance to City Council as well as local organizations and associations.

Campus Conversations

The Issue of Marriage in America

Fall 2007

A campus discussion of same-sex marriage as it appears in arguments put forth in the proposed Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment, Vermont's Civil Union Laws and the Massachusetts Supreme Court Decision: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.

Arts and the Campus

Spring 2007

The Arts play a vital role in campus life. They can also be the source of controversy and debate. This campus conversation will look recent issues arising from Public Art on the campus and seek to ascertain current attitudes toward the works and the Arts in general.

Faculty Course Evaluations

Fall 2006

FCE's have been part of campus life for decades. This deliberative poll will discuss various formats for developing and assessing course evaluations and the role they play in evaluating courses and teaching.

Previous Polls

Campus Diversity

November 19, 2005


October 29, 2005

America's Role in the World

January 24 and October 16, 2004

© Copyright 2005 Program for Deliberative Democracy