Deliberative Forums seek to discover what people think about an issue after they have engaged deeply with multiple, alternative perspectives. These forums provide the resources citizens need to develop an opinion informed by relevant facts, expert information, and an understanding of how issues and policies affect others in their community. The diagram below shows several elements of a deliberative forum and the pages in this section highlight a number of projects showcasing the work of the Program for Deliberative Democracy.
Elements of a Deliberative Forum
1. Organizers recruit a diverse group of participants.
2. Participants receive background materials offering basic information and a balanced overview of various perspectives on issues.
3. Participants engage in small-group discussions facilitated by trained moderators.
4. Participants’ questions are addressed by a resource panel of people with expertise on the issues.
5. Participants return to small groups to reflect on the information provided by resource panelists.
6. Participants complete an exit survey.
Benefits of a Deliberative Forum
• Participants develop an opinion informed by relevant facts, expert information, and an understanding of how issues and policies affect others in their community.
• Participants enrich their understanding of their own perspective.
• Participants develop understanding of new or alternative perspectives.
• Participants develop a more comprehensive knowledge about the issues.
• Participants practice skills of civil deliberation.
• Process fosters civic connectivity.