How to convince decision-makers to initiate deliberative mini-publics? How to ensure mini-publics’ recommendations are meaningfully followed up on? How to move from ad hoc projects to regular and regulated forms of deliberation? Find below summaries, outcomes, presentations and other materials related to workshops organised in connection with the first conference theme: political buy-in.
WS 1: Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe: real innovation or smokescreen?
Organised and with presentations by Yves Mathieu (Missions Publiques), Antoine Vergne (Missions Publiques) & Gaetane Ricard-Nihoul (DG Communications, European Commission).
We discussed the innovation of the Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe: a mixed group of professional decision-makers and randomly selected citizens who worked on putting together a series of common recommendations on the basis of the results of the European Citizens’ Panels. We discussed the successes and limitations of this exercise.
WS 13: Let a thousand flowers bloom: scaling out and replicating citizen deliberation
Organised and with presentations by Silvia Cervellini (Delibera Brasil), Pete Bryant (Shared Future CIC) and Delibera Brasil.
After sharing the challenges and questions that arose from these two programmes in UK and Brazil, participants engaged in a discussion about how to minimise the risks without giving up the pillars of citizen deliberation. The group came up with some ideas for scaling citizen assemblies at local level:
"as big as can be within the constraints, using existing public resources/intelligence such as museums";
"communities involved since the beginning, including crowdfunding";
"two models: big cities with sophisticated process and larger budgets ==> piloting methods, framing policies, raising conscience as reference for smaller cities to deliberate more specific issues, creating a regional movement of citizen deliberation with a shared general remit".
WS 14: Next level citizen participation: Institutionalising European Citizens’ Assemblies
Organised and with a presentation by Andrey Demidov (Bertelsmann Stiftung).
During the session I presented the model on institutionalisation of European Citizens Assemblies for EU policy-making. The model has been jointly elaborated by the experts from the Bertelsmann Stiftung and leading experts on EU democracy. The session was structured straightforwardly: the first half was devoted to the presentation of the model, the second half of the session was opened for the Q&A with the audience. The Q&A or, rather, the questions asked by the participants could be considered the major outcome. The audience was diverse and included representatives of civil society, state officials, EU institutions. The questions raised by the audience were crucial from the perspective of clarifying some blind spots in the model.
TS 1: Decision-makers as movers and shakers, communities as moonrakers: comparing two models
Organised and with presentations by Pandora Ellis (DemSoc), Mel Stevens (DemSoc) & Tom Lord (Sortition Foundation).
Participants were invited to compare two case studies from our work on a permanent Citizen's Assembly with Newham Council and a Democracy Review with London School of Economics Students' Union. At set intervals during the presentation content, we added pause points for small groups to reflect on the conference themes: political buy-in, inclusive participation, and democracy in crisis. Issues and ideas were shared in whole group plenary discussions. The session illuminated nuance in the strengths and weaknesses of each case study, with no right or wrong argument in favour of top down or bottom up approaches.
TS 3: Whole system buy-in
Organised and with a presentation by Harm van Dijk (G1000.nu).
The training was meant as an introduction in the way G1000.nu organises Citizens’ Assemblies. In the philosophy of G1000.nu a citizens’ assembly is about its participants and is meant to revive community and start change. Even before policy change has been reached. For both of those reasons it's important to have the 'whole of the community' in the room. So, not only sorted citizens, but also politicians, civil servants and employers. As they decide, together with citizens, what and how things can happen in the community.
TS 5: Towards collaborative governance: enabling public authorities to harness the power of deliberation
Organised and with a presentation by Lukas Kübler (Collaborative Governance Lab, Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management) & Giulia Molinengo (Collaborative Governance Lab, Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management).
Experimentation with instruments of deliberative democracy can increasingly be observed at all levels of the respective political systems. Moreover, the question of institutionalisation and integration with existing governance structures is being addressed with growing intensity. Against this background, the training workshop focused on the role of public authorities as conveners of deliberative forums such as mini-publics.
The session organisers provided input on their work in a public sector innovation lab that supports public sector organisations in adapting their structures and processes to the needs of participatory processes. They also offered an analytical framework for understanding what it means for public sector organisations to harness the power of deliberation. In small group work, participants reflected on their own work in the field and its relation to the role of public authorities and connected experiences as well as good practices in the room.
TS 7: Bringing citizens' assemblies to the public
Organised and with a presentation by Thorsten Sterk (Mehr Demokratie e.V.).
In the workshop, the participants worked out together why public relations work is important for mini publics and which ways and methods are suitable for this.
How to prevent mini-publics from reproducing structural inequalities? How to connect mini-publics to the wider public? What are the challenges and opportunities of digital democracy? Find below summaries, outcomes, presentations and other materials related to workshops organised in connection with the second conference theme: inclusive participation.
WS 2: Enclave deliberation
Organised by Kimbra White (MosaicLab).
The purpose of this workshop was to explore the group's collective experience of enclave deliberation (deliberations of like-minded people, including minority or specialist groups) and to consider the question: what can we do in the design and facilitation of enclaves to gain the expected benefits and reduce the likely problems?
Information from the academic research was provided in written form on the definition of enclaves, benefits and problems of enclaves and three case studies.
There were four steps in the workshop:
1. Introductions were undertaken using sociometry based on people's home country and their experience in facilitating or researching enclaves.
2. The group identified the enclaves they had facilitated or researched. These included:
- Yarra Valley Water Price Submission – Australia (MosaicLab)
- XR in New York City – Prioritisation of demands/efforts - USA
- Consultations of Good Faith – IASS
- Defecting from Supremacy. Target audience (people classified as) white men. www.whiteawake.org
- Local community planning process with Scottish local government – small deliberative focus groups with targeted population sectors before public meetings regarding the local plan.
- Fair Energy Transition for All (EU/ifok)
3. Working in small groups and using Thiagi's textra process, the group discussed and understood the information provided from the academic research.
4. The group considered the question what we can do in the design and facilitation of enclaves to gain the expected benefits and reduce the likely problems? The results were as follows:
- Involve people from the communities into the design and facilitation
- Enclaves need to grow rather than being designed – Bogota – “care blocks” leading to offering space
- Training facilitators
- Include the ‘enclave’ in the design of the process
- Deliberative equity in follow-up process
- The design of enclaves should focus on the differences between participants to show that they are not all the same
- After care – follow up, decompressing/group processing
- Three stages instead of two when bringing enclaves into wider deliberations
- Supplementary/additional recruitment to bring in missing groups
- Combine it with a large process
- Reserve space and time for those who are most silent
- Dismiss the necessity for consensus
WS 8: Unpacking the Global Assembly: an exploration of the first global citizens' assembly pilot
Organised and with presentations by Jon Stever (i4Policy), Remco van der Stoep (G1000.nu), Sanskriti Menon (CEE), and Claire Mellier.
Members of the Global Assembly core delivery team presented an overview of the 2021 global citizens' assembly on the climate and ecological crisis. Participants were offered an overview of the methodology, implementation and outcomes, followed by a Q&A.
A full report of the Global Assembly can be found at: www.globalassembly.org/report
WS 9: Creative techniques to foster more equal and inclusive deliberation
Organised by Jez Hall (Shared Future CIC), Pete Bryant (Shared Future CIC) & Kimbra White (MosaicLab).
WS 15: Including the ignored
Organised and with a presentation by Irene Alonso Toucido (FIDE) & Jonathan Moskovic (Francophone Parliament of Brussels).
The session delved into the struggles that deliberative processes might encounter when trying to include groups in a situation of vulnerability. It analysed the issue from two different angles: recruitment and deliberation. The audience and the two speakers reflected on the possible solutions or methodologies that could be used to organise inclusive assemblies. From the recruitment point of view, the possibilities of knocking on people's doors, contacting local organisations that work with migrants or the homeless to give information on the deliberative process, or guaranteeing a stipend and childcare were some possible solutions that would encourage participation of the 'hard to reach'.
On the other hand, the way the communication and debate happen within the assembly in itself must be carefully designed as the cultural and educational differences might provoke the domination of certain voices over others. As such, the facilitators must be well-trained to notice such discrimination.
TS 6: Taking deliberations online
Organised and with a presentation by Ceri Davies (NatCen) & Duncan Grimes (NatCen).
The session considered questions of technology and democracy - including whether or how we can scale up more deliberative forms of democracy using online means, including:
- a new form of democracy, rather than just thinking about ways to translate what we know from in -person experience,
- paying attention to the assumptions of what democracy is and what technology might need to do by those who code and develop the tech. Platforms are not neutral,
- issues of technology, access and design vary across the globe – what happens in local places where internet connection isn’t stable or very expensive?
- whether we know enough about people’s democratic experience using online forms
- what the relationship with social media might be – not just as potential places for deliberation but what impact they have on democracy, e.g misinformation, or the influential views of those who are popular.
The group shared examples of their own work using online means (mostly videoconferencing) to run deliberations to explore research questions as well as engage citizens in democratic processes and policy decision making. We agreed there needed to be more room to exchange approaches and support learning as well as bespoke software that could be designed just for deliberation.
The group also posed, but didn’t answer, a philosophical question – that if you do it online, is it still democracy? How is our sense of citizenship altered in online contexts - what implications does this have?
So! A wide-ranging discussion, and whilst there were big questions, there were also examples of where this is already starting, with some potential opportunities to do democracy ‘beyond the elite’, tackle global issues or support forms of deliberative democracy at scale, potential benefits in inclusion and reach and perhaps as a means to increase how young people can get involved.
Democracy in (times of) crisis
What are the fundamental challenges to democracy today? What is the potential and what are the limits of deliberative democracy in the context of these challenges? How to connect deliberative democracy with other forms and instruments of democracy? Find below summaries, outcomes, presentations and other materials related to workshops organised in connection with the third and final conference theme: democracy in (times of) crisis.
WS 3: Wartime Democracy: what’s going on with democracy & how to cope with war? Experience of Ukraine
Organised by Olga Kutsenko (Berlin Technical University & Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv); presentations by Viktor Stepanenko (Institute of Sociology at Ukraine National Academy of Sciences), Andrii Gorbachyk (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv), Uliana Movchan (University of Tübingen & V. Karazin National University of Kharkiv) & Julia Bidenko (V. Karazin National University of Kharkiv).
The workshop was focused on the unique experience of Ukraine that highlights the dilemma of democracy arising from two contrasting trends. The current large-scale escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine has objectively shrinked the space and functionality of democracy and, on the other hand, triggered the powerful wave of patriotism and civic activism. Volunteer’s groups, grass-roots social networks including socially responsible business and ordinary citizens are acting in various areas of the current war-reality and all together contribute to a collective struggle for freedom and democracy. Citizens and their multiple assemblies have become powerful actors in wartime Ukraine which strengthens their impact on the governmental policy during the war and compensates for the gaps of the policy.
The game between grass-rooted democracy and authoritarian tendencies, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of democracy under the war, were in the focus of consideration. Democracy is not only the willingness of the government to listen to the voices of people. This is also the ability of the citizens to express and defend their visions, to be responsible for the political process and to trust critically the elected politicians and the government in their decision-making.
The case of Ukraine shows that successful democratic development requires values and geopolitical goals, which include the mass support of a democratic system and the mass-supported value of freedom. The sociological fact that supporters of European integration of Ukraine mostly support democratic values is important for the post-war society and democracy. The clear connection between the European aspirations of Ukrainians and democratic values testifies to the sincerity of the European choice. After the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war, it is the European integration aspirations of Ukrainians that will reliably block any temptations to slide into authoritarianism.
Article Stepanenko on war against Ukraine (in German)
Article Stepanenko Ukraine under Zelensky (in German)
Essay Stepanenko sociological notes on war
NDI survey results August 2022
NDI survey results May 2022
Presentation Fisun & Movchan
WS 6: New deliberative institutions for the next democratic paradigm
Organised by Ieva Cesnulaityte (DemocracyNext) & Aviv Ovadya.
Our current democratic institutions fail to reflect society’s diversity, they tear us apart, they concentrate power in the hands of the few. We need new democratic institutions – permanent deliberative institutions with rotating citizen representatives at the heart of the democratic system. In this workshop we take a step to the future and opened up the space to imagine new citizen deliberation based democratic institutions for different parts of the democratic system. Participants in small groups reflected on and came up with ideas how economic, cultural institutions, local planing decisions, media, and public governance could be made genuinely democratic based on principles on deliberation, sortition, and participation.
WS 10: Mirar la democracia deliberativa desde el Sur Global/Global South perspectives of deliberative democracy
Organised by Sofia Castillo (SUR Institute) & Carlos Brown (SUR Institute).
The Global South perspectives of deliberative democracy workshop is intended to start a conversation around ways to expand deliberative democracy in the so-called Global South, but also how do we understand the particular needs and processes of the territories and people of the Global South to strengthen deliberative democracy?
What is the key element to strengthen deliberative democracy in the Global South? And to build equity between South and North deliberative democracies?
- Capacity building/development for deliberative democracy in the Global South
- Increase financial capacity for the Global South
- Develop different context-specific methodologies for the Global South
- Tackling corruption in Global North - South relations
- Implement deliberation as part of building community within the network
- Acknowledging local capacity and knowledge (support acknowledgement and visibility from the Global North to South knowledge and processes of DD)
- Arts and visual elements as a tool (adapt to local contexts)
- Incentives to participate (i.e. dynamic anonymity; money, but not only)
- Non-technical communication: "Deliberation is more universal than elections" as a key message
WS 11: Assembling a volunteer-based citizens’ assembly with zero budget in times of political crisis
Organised and with presentations by Ronen Goffer (DEMOS Participatory Processes) & David Dunetz (The Heschel Center for Sustainability, CAI).
Our main goal was to tell about the Citizens’ Assembly in Israel in general, but mainly from the perspective of running it with a very low budget and with volunteer-based work. We have managed to bring this perspective to participants, and also the dllemas that go along with it. Some of the participants concluded that it was almost "liberating" to know that a citizens’ assembly can be organised and executed in that way.
WS 16: Rising above crisis: deliberative democracy and the consolidation of democracy in Central Africa
Organised and with presentations by Chikodiri Nwangwu (University of Nigeria, Nsukka), Ben Nwosu (University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus) & Edlyne Anugwom (University of Nigeria).
The workshop took the format of presentations by three speakers on case studies in Central Africa. Chikodiri Nwangwu spoke on “Deliberative democracy and conflict resolution in Chad”; this was a reflection on the prospects of deliberative democracy in resolving the internecine political and ethnic conflicts in Chad.
Ben Nwosu on “Feasibility of Deliberative Democracy in Gabon” contended that despite substantial capture of state institutions there is the possibility of change which can be brought about by alliance of democratic actors and organisations in establishing institutions of engagement for participative engagement and deliberation.
In the presentation, “From one party state to one party democracy: Deliberative democracy and the imperative of genuine democratisation in Cameroon”, Edlyne Anugwom examined the democratic credentials and challenges in that country and possibilities of deliberative democracy especially through normative values and CSOs.
The workshop was lively, and participants arrived at a consensus on the precarious nature of democracy in the subregion. Generally, the audience was well-captivated and showed interest in the discussion of the contemporary situation, dynamics, and challenges to democracy. There was no escaping the conclusion that democracy as practised in these nations is far from the ideal and has been bedevilled by internal factors ranging from ethnicity, corruption, underdeveloped civil society to external factors.
However, deliberative democracy was positioned as a viable way to ensure that governance in these countries studied lived up to expectation and engender development. But for this to happen, there is a need to deepen and sustain democracy. Some of the paths towards the above include strengthening civil society, enabling political opposition, devolving governance, strengthening political institutions. While the challenges appear daunting, there is hope that political will, elite support and empowered civil society would bring positive and radical changes in the long run.
WS 17: Bursting our bubble: using deliberative practices for constitutional reform & political result
Organised and with a presentation by Graham Allen (Former Member of Parliament UK) & Wendy Willis (Oregon's Kitchen Table).
We had a robust discussion about the role that deliberative democracy--and citizens' assemblies more specifically--might play in democratic and constitutional reform. Because Graham and I come from different constitutional traditions, we framed some of the similarities and differences in approaching structural reform through deliberation. The participants talked about their own democratic (or not so democratic) systems, and we discussed how we might seed a broader movement that brings deliberative processes to bear on big, systemic questions. We all agreed that demonstration projects and reliable technical assistance would be invaluable. Graham and I agreed to continue the conversation and seek opportunities to collaborate.
WS 18: Where next for climate assemblies?
Organised and with a presentation by Graham Smith (Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies (KNOCA) / University of Westminster) & Mark Beanland (KNOCA / Danish Board of Technology).
The interactive session “Where next for climate assemblies?” was organised by the Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies (KNOCA), a European-based network that aims to improve the commissioning, design, implementation, impact and evaluation of climate assemblies. The session began with a brief overview of KNOCA’s work and some of its early findings on the current state of climate assembly practice. The main part of the session focused on three key questions:
- What is the likely future for climate assemblies? More of the same, a loss of interest or new directions?
- What is our preferred future for climate assemblies – and how can it be shaped by Democracy R&D, KNOCA and other actors?
- What risks can we mitigate and which barriers do we need to break down?
We were fortunate to be joined by a number of participants with different experiences of running and observing climate assemblies and other citizens’ assemblies. The overriding concern of participants (mirroring findings from KNOCA’s work) is the danger that the more common comprehensive assemblies – where members are tasked with considering the whole realm of climate policy – will too often fail to have impact on climate governance. This is not a surprise given the large number of recommendations that emerge with often no clear link to policy cycles. Remits may be better focused on more specific and salient areas of climate policy where a clear and obvious policy window is open and where public authorities are struggling to resolve trade-offs.
TS 10: Turning one off deliberations into resilient democracies
Organised and with a presentation by max stearns (Democratic Society) & Hanne Bastiaensen (Democratic Society).
After presenting the concept of democratic infrastructure as a way to move from one-off projects and processes to longer-term effects, there was a question-and-answer session that culminated in a more fundamental discussion on democratic innovation and deliberative democracy. Some of the issues raised in this discussion were:
- Is democratic infrastructure the right term for the set of (non-physical) elements that enable democracy in the long term?
- How do we deal with democratic infrastructure that is already present in a context and how can this concept of democratic infrastructure also acknowledge and include these elements?
- Who decides what 'good' democratic infrastructure is, what agency do citizens and other involved stakeholders have in it?
- Every democratic process leaves something behind in the context in which it takes place. How can we be more conscious and intentional of what we leave behind?
No consensus was reached around these questions but the discussions went very much into depth and will feed and shape this thinking in the future. Perhaps the most important conclusion was that in the seclusion of this workshop, some fundamental questions were raised that are important not only for the concept of democratic infrastructure, but for the whole field of participatory and deliberative democracy.
Deliberative Democracy School - methods & tools
On the third day of the conference, a ‘deliberative democracy school’ was organised, aimed at peer-to-peer learning about relevant methods and tools related to deliberative democracy. Find below summaries, outcomes, presentations and other materials related to training sessions organised as part of the deliberative democracy school.
TS 4 + 9: Facilitating collaboration: groups self-writing reports & reaching common ground
Organised by Kimbra White (MosaicLab).
The purpose of this training was to demonstrate some key facilitation processes to enable deliberators (the training participants) to create ideas and from these to write their own recommendations, review draft recommendations and come to agreement on final recommendations - some key steps in the deliberation process.
The group was provided with a handout of MosaicLab's 7 steps and 34 sub-steps that they use to design and facilitate deliberations. To make this as realistic as possible Kimbra set the remit as 'What can D R&D members do together to encourage more governing bodies world-wide to institutionalise deliberative democracy? This has been a question being considered by one of the online D R&D groups over the past six months. This online group had come up with numerous ideas that Kimbra had clustered into about 8 themes. These 8 themes and all the ideas were presented on a wall in the training room. So it was assumed that the deliberating group (the training group) had already been through steps 1.1 to 5.3.
The deliberators (training group) undertook the following steps:
- Introductions using sociometry. Step 2.1
- Small groups were set up and provided with one set of data (one of the 8 themes). They used this data to write one draft recommendation using a template (heading, recommendation, rationale/why this recommendation is important). Step 5.4
- Review - each recommendation (about 6 were written) was placed next to a 'Love it to Loathe it' ideas rating sheet (refer MosaicLab's book or Jason Diceman's resources) and each person in the group individually rated the idea on the scale: Love it, Like it, Live with it, Lament it, Loathe it or Confused and wrote comments on how the draft recommendation could be improved (to increase their rating). Step 5.5
- Ideas Rating Results - the scores are added up and the whole group reviewed the results to see what recommendations had 80% support (or more) and what recommendation will need more refinement or need to be let go. Step 5.6
- Rewriting - the draft recommendations are rewritten using the information on the Ideas Rating Sheets. Step 5.7
- Walk through - Kimbra demonstrated how MosaicLab facilitates a final voting and word-smithing of the recommendations in a large (the whole) group discussion process. Step 6.3
More information on these steps can be found in MosaicLab's book 'Facilitating Deliberation: A Practical Guide'.
TS 8: Pre-deliberation learning focused on lower formal educational groups make better assemblies
Organised and with a presentation by Ana Lucia Lima (Delibera Brasil) & Christiane Dienel (nexus Institute).
In the session, different approaches to inform participants beforehand and during the deliberative formats were presented. One way to address persons with lower formal education is to use graphics and schemes. This was used widely and successfully by Delibera Brasil. Another interesting approach was a card game giving information about specific aspects while playing it. In Germany, the Climate Citizen Assembly also used videos especially produced for the session that explained different theoretical standpoints by an actress that would present those as her own view. The actress would present different standpoints in exactly the same way, with the same dark clothing and in front of a dark background. By this, even persons not used to distinguishing different standpoints could easily grasp that there are different approaches to a subject and that they are equally justified and you have to make up your own opinion. The discussions in the workshop then focussed on the question how to realise an open and inclusive space of discussion.
TS 12: Recruiting representative samples by democratic lottery: what does this actually mean?
Organised and with a presentation by Rich Rippin (Sortition Foundation).
It became obvious early on in the session that many of those attending were not at all clear how the process of selecting people by democratic lottery works in practice. We therefore used the time to outline the key approaches currently in use (2-stage processes, including those using mailouts, phone calls, door to door house calls) and to explore the strengths and weaknesses of these.
As specialists in using democratic lotteries to select participants for deliberative processes, Sortition Foundation is keen to share knowledge with the wider network on how this is done. We will be offering learning calls to do this.
TS 13: You're going to need a bigger room!
Organised and with a presentation by Harm van Dijk (G1000.nu).
This training session was meant to give participants a clue on how to deliberate with a bigger group (up to 1.000 participants) and why one should want to do it. During the session we shared our learnings out of the many (30+) citizens’ assemblies we organised during the last 8 years. It was interesting to see how many insights we had in common with the participants in the room.
The conference in pictures
The Democracy R&D annual conference was jointly organised and hosted by