Carnegie Mellon University

Program for Deliberative Democracy

Department of Philosophy


In If Mayors Ruled the World, Benjamin Barber wrote that the dysfunction of democracy that we see at the national – and even state level – has caused us to return to the origins of democracy in the polis – because it is in the cities that we can get things done on a manageable scale. In this regard, cities are taking on the role once played by the states.

In Pittsburgh, former Mayor Bill Peduto embraced the role of cities as leaders and endorsed a model of deliberative democracy to strengthen the community’s overall civic health. Under his administration “Deliberative Community Forums have been used to generate meaningful public engagement and to gather residents’ input about timely decisions (the selection of a new Chief of Police), regular municipal business (identifying priorities for the City’s capital budgeting process), future initiatives (facilitating resident engagement with our Affordable Housing Task Force), and the City’s involvement with national initiatives (Pittsburgh’s adoption of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative).” – Foreword to A Handbook on Deliberative Community Forums.

In 2016 the Program for Deliberative Democracy collaborated with the City to produce a Handbook on Deliberative Community Forums for use by his administration and future administrations as well as by mayors and cities across the country.

Selection of a new Police Chief for the City of Pittsburgh

Throughout the summer of 2014, six public forums provided the citizens of Pittsburgh with an opportunity to participate in the process of selecting a new Chief of Police. During these forums, residents from each of Pittsburgh’s six policing zones shared their ideas about how to improve policing in Pittsburgh, identified their priorities, and discussed the qualities they believe are essential in the new Chief of Police.