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Real Democracy Now! a podcast

Real Democracy Now! a podcast answers the question: can we do democracy differently? If you're dissatisfied with the current state of democracy but not sure how it could be improved this is the podcast for you. You'll hear from experts and activists as well as everyday people about how democracy works and how it can be improved. Then you get to choose which reforms you think would make the most difference.
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Real Democracy Now! a podcast
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Mar 19, 2017

Welcome back to Real Democracy Now! a podcast.This is episode one of Season Two. Season Two is about representative democracy 

Season Two is about representative democracy: its origins, components, how it can be evaluated, different approaches to democracy, the democratic deficit and the relationship between democracy and capitalism.

In Episode 1 of Season 2, I'm talking to Professor Paul Cartledge. Professor Cartledge was the inaugural A G Levants Professor of Greek Culture

Professor Cartledge was the inaugural A G Levants Professor of Greek Culture in the University of Cambridge and President of Clare College, Cambridge. Between 2006 - 2010 he was Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in History and Theory of Democracy at New York University. Over the course of his career, he has written and edited numerous books on the ancient Greek world, most recently Democracy: a Life. He has served as historical consultant for the BBC television series The Greeks, and for four Channel 4 documentaries, including The Spartans.

If you would like to hear more from Professor Cartledge I've added some videos to the Real Democracy Now! YouTube Channel.

Some other material you may find interesting:

How student activism informed Paul Cartledge's new history of democracy

Ancient Greeks would not recognise our democracy

G1000 in Cambridge

In the next episode, I'll be talking with Professor Nadia Urbinati and Roslyn Fuller about the history of democracy and design. I hope you'll join me then.

Feb 12, 2017

In this episode I speak to three academics who each take a critical perspective on the operation of deliberative mini-publics. Each of them takes issue with a different aspect of the impact or influence that the recommendations coming from deliberative mini-publics have on public policy.

For Associate Professor Genevieve Fuji Johnson the failure of the democratic innovations she studied (which includes deliberative mini-publics and deliberative polling) was that they didn't have any real impact on policy and decision-making.
 
Professor Cristina La Font takes basically the opposite view. For her deliberative mini-publics should not have any impact on policy decisions, rather they should be used to support the broader engagement of citizens.
 
Associate Professor Caroline Lee’s critique is that many democratic innovations, including deliberative mini-publics, appear to allow for influence or impact but the issues they are asked to consider are often heavily circumscribed, and deliberative mini-publics are explicitly denied the opportunity to address the challenges underlying the difficult issues they are faced with.

And Roslyn Fuller provides another perspective suggesting that citizens may change how they approach decision-making within a deliberative mini-public depending on whether they believe their recommendations will be implemented or not.

This is the final episode of Season 1 looking at deliberative mini-publics. If you haven't already listened to episodes 1 - 18 I'd suggest you go back and listen to them all, starting with Professor Carson explaining what deliberative mini-publics are in episode 1.1.

Season 2 will look at the history of democracy, the dominant model of representative democracy, as well as what is working and what isn’t.

Season 2 will commence in mid-March. I hope you'll join me then.

 

Jan 29, 2017

In today's episode, I speak with Professor Graham Smith and Professor Brigitte Geißel about the evaluation frameworks they have each developed to assess the value of democratic innovations. 

I ask each of them how their frameworks apply to deliberative mini-publics and they provide quite different assessments of the value and effectiveness of deliberative mini-publics as democratic innovations.

Professor Smith's framework identifies four democratic goods:

  1. inclusiveness
  2. popular control
  3. considered judgement and
  4. transparency.

Professor Geißel's analytical framework comprises five criteria:

  1. inclusive participation
  2. meaningful participation
  3. legitimacy
  4. effectiveness and
  5. citizen enlightenment.

As you can see, there are some similarities between these frameworks. However, the conclusions each person draws about the value and effectiveness of deliberative mini-publics is quite different.

In next week's episode (the final one for Season 1) I talk to three other academics who take a critical perspective on the operation of deliberative mini-publics:

  • Professor Cristina La Font from Northwestern University in the US,
  • Associate Professor Caroline Lee from Lafayette College in the US and
  • Associate Professor Genevieve Fuji Johnson from Simon Fraser University in Canada.

I hope you'll join me then.

Jan 22, 2017

In today's episode I speak with four everyday people who have been participants in deliberative mini-publics in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Each person has their own unique take on being a randomly selected participant in a deliberative mini-public, but they all agree they would recommend being part of a deliberative mini-public to family and friends.

First up is Ben McPeek who was a member of the Residents’ Reference Panel for the Davenport Community Rail Overpass project in 2015. This Reference Panel was commissioned by Metrolinx and designed and facilitated by MASS LBP.  I spoke to Peter MacLeod from MASS LBP about their work on episode 6 of the podcast.

Next, I spoke with Lewis Adams who was a juror on the Infrastructure Victoria Citizens’ Jury in 2015. Infrastructure Victoria was developing a thirty-year infrastructure plan for the State of Victoria in Australia and ran a multi-faceted engagement program which included two concurrent citizens’ juries: one in the capital - Melbourne and the other in Shepparton in regional Victoria. Lewis was a juror on the regional Citizens’ Jury. The Infrastructure Victoria Citizens’ Jury process was designed by the newDemocracy Foundation and involved a range of facilitators (including some of the people who I spoke to on episode 11 of the podcast) under Nation Partners who were responsible for delivering the overall engagement process.

I also spoke with Caroline Victor who was a juror on the Cats and Dogs Citizens’ Jury in South Australia in late 2014. This citizens’ jury was established by the Dog and Cat Management Board to advise on measures to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats. This process was facilitated by DemocracyCo, whose co-founder Emily Jenke I spoke to on episode 10 of the podcast). Recruitment for this citizens’ jury was undertaken by the newDemocracy Foundation. I was working for newDemocracy Foundation at that time and managed the recruitment for this citizens’ jury. The Dogs and Cats Citizens’ Jury won the IAP2 Australasian Core Values Award in the environmental category in 2016.

And finally, I talked with Andy Holdup who was a member of the Citizens’ Assembly South in Southhampton in the UK in 2015. Unlike the other three processes covered in today’s episode, which were all commissioned by government agencies to get input into decisions they were making, the two Citizens’ Assemblies run in Sheffield (Citizens’ Assembly North) and Southhampton (Citizens’ Assembly South) were commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society with a number of academics interested in democratic reform as a project to demonstrate the value of engaging with everyday citizens on key governance issues, in this case the devolution agenda. In episode 8 I spoke with Professor Graham Smith one of the academics involved in the Democracy Matters project about these assemblies and in particular about the experimental aspect of the process where Citizens’ Assembly South included local politicians as well as citizens. And in episode 10 I spoke to Titus Alexander the lead facilitator for these Assemblies. The Democracy Matters process won the UK Political Studies Association Annual Award for Democratic Innovation in 2016.
 
There are only two more episodes to come for Season 1. Next week I'll be talking to Professors Graham Smith and Brigette Gießel about how they evaluate democratic innovations, including deliberative mini-publics and the following week I'll be talking to a number of critics of deliberative mini-publics to get a different perspective on these democratic innovations. I hope you'll join me for the final two episodes of Season 1 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast.
Jan 15, 2017

Professor Fishkin developed the idea of deliberative polling in 1998 since then deliberative polls have been held in over 24 countries and once in 22 languages simultaneously. Professor Fishkin holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University where he is Professor of Communication, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy.

Deliberative polls have been designed to provide the conditions under which people can think about an issue and decision-makers can see how those people's views change as a result of this process. The conditions Professor Fishkin identifies as optimal include:

  • carefully vetted and balanced briefing materials
  • randomly allocating participants to independently moderated small groups
  • groups work together to identify the questions they want to be answered
  • experts from different sides of an issue provide answers to those questions
  • repeat the previous three steps multiple times.

A confidential survey is administered before and after the face-to-face meeting with the same questions in both plus some evaluation questions in the post-process survey. Generally, participants' policy positions will change significantly as a result of being exposed to information and having their questions answered. Professor Fishkin and others' research suggests that people become more 'public spirited,' making decisions based on the needs of the community rather than themselves. Fishkin sees deliberative polling as providing what Mills called 'schools of public spirit.'

Professor Fishkin provides many examples of deliberative polls and their outcomes. One involved eight deliberative polls across Texas on energy futures which lead to Texas moving from the last place in 1996 to first place in 2007 in the US for the use of wind power.

In next week's episode, I will be talking to four everyday people who were randomly selected to participate in deliberative mini-publics in the UK, Canada, and Australia. I hope you'll join me then.

Jan 7, 2017
The G1000 model has expanded beyond its home in Belgium and has been particularly popular in the Netherlands. In today’s episode I speak with one of the founders of the G1000 in the Netherlands, Harm van Deijk. Harm has a background in facilitation and used these skills together with the underlying principles of the G1000 to develop a model which has been used in numerous local government areas across the Netherlands as well as being adapted for regional and industry issues. 
 
Harm explains how the G1000 was introduced in the Netherlands as well as providing a detailed description of how 1000 people are able to identify key issues and discuss these in detail in one day. Like the G1000 in Belgium, which we heard about in last week’s episode, in the Netherlands the G1000 is focused on agenda setting. Harm gives an example of how a politician, who doesn’t see much value in the G1000, promotes a new idea for his local area, not realising that it came from an earlier G1000 process.
 
In next week’s episode (Ep1.16) I’ll be talking with Professor James Fishkin the creator of Deliberative Polling about what this is, how it works and where it has been used. I hope you’ll join me then.
 
To listen to every episode when it is released please subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.
Jan 1, 2017

The G1000 arose in Belgium out of frustration with the inability of the political parties in Belgium to form a government. The G1000 began in 2011 and had three broad phases:

  1. public agenda setting,
  2. the Citizens' Summit and
  3. the Citizens' Panel

Unlike many of the other deliberative mini-publics we've heard about in earlier podcast episodes the G1000 was explicitly about agenda setting by citizens rather than providing advice to elected representatives on a topic those representatives have chosen.

A short overview of the G1000 process and outputs can be found on Participedia.

Didier Caluwaerts is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the VUB. His research interests include deliberative and participatory democracy, social, democratic and public sector innovation, social entrepreneurship, innovation management and cooperative governance. He recently set up a lab experiment with professor Michael MacKenzie (University of Pittsburgh) on deliberation and long-term thinking regarding environmental policy.

He was previously a post-doctoral researcher of the FWO at the VUB. His PhD (2011, VUB) dealt with deliberative democracy in divided societies. It was awarded the 2012 ECPR Jean Blondel PhD award and it was nominated for the Annual PhD Prize of the Dutch and Flemish Political Science Associations. He is also the winner of the 2010 ECPR Dirk Berg-Schlosser award, and co-organizer of the G1000 citizens' summit (2011).

 

In next week's episode I'll be talking to Harm van Dijk one of the people who has taken the G1000 to the Netherlands.

 

Dec 25, 2016
Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer is currently the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization in the United States that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in the political system. As a leader in the field of deliberative democracy, Carolyn works to restore the US's democracy to reflect the intended vision of their founding fathers. 
 
Dr. Lukensmeyer was also the founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization that promoted nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies. 
 
 In today's episode she talks about what brought her to work with both of these organisations and gives examples of their work including facilitating 5000 people providing advice to the City after the 9/11 attacks and working with communities to address the underlying causes of mass shootings.
 
In next week’s episode we’ll be learning about the G1000 from its roots in Belgium to its extension into the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I hope you’ll join me then.
 
Dec 18, 2016
Democracy in Practice is an organisation dedicated to democratic innovation, experimentation, and capacity building currently working in Bolivia. Their mission is  to transform how people envision democracy, and to develop innovative ways for even the largest organizations, communities, and governments to be truly democratic—not just in theory or in name, but in practice.
 
Democracy in Practice are currently in their third year of school-based projects that reinvent student government, combining democratic experimentation with the a focus on providing young people with an experiential democratic education. 
 
In this episode I speak with Adam Cronkright who co-founded Democracy in Practice in 2013. Before engaging in democratic innovation in Bolivia, his passion for democracy led to a broad base of experience, which included an independent study of the jury system; dialoguing with members of the 2011 Icelandic Constituent Council; co-facilitating two NYC General Assemblies; co-writing the Spokes-Council Proposal at Occupy Wall Street; and teaching and learning at the democratically-run Brooklyn Free School. 
 
In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I’ll be talking to Carolyn Lukensmeyer the current Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse in the US and founder of America Speaks. I hope you’ll join me for that episode.
Dec 13, 2016
In this episode I speak with three Australian facilitators: 
  1. Keith Greaves, co-founder of Mosaic Lab, a Victorian based company focused on improving democracy through discussion and dialogue (@ 1.11).
  2. Lucy Cole-Edelstein, Director of Straight Talk, a NSW based company specialising in helping people understand each other (@16.36) and
  3. Max Hardy, Principal at Max Hardy Consulting, based in Victoria and works with leaders and organisations to achieve results through collaboration (@44.40).

Each of these facilitators has over 20 years experience working with communities and all of them are award winning facilitators of deliberative mini-publics. 

Because deliberative mini-publics are so popular at the moment here in Australia there is a growing demand for facilitators who are skilled in managing these processes. I asked each of these facilitators a series of questions and whilst they take a similar view on many things they each have their own unique take on others. 
 
In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I talk with Adam Cronkright from Democracy in Practice about how they use of random selection and deliberation in their work with school students and school councils in Bolivia. I hope you will join me for this episode.
Dec 5, 2016

With the growth in popularity of deliberative mini-publics there has been a increased demand for people to facilitate these processes. In today’s episode I speak to two such people - Emily Jenke from Democracy Co in South Australia and Titus Alexander from Democracy Matters the UK.

Emily Jenke has been facilitating community engagement processes for nearly years, most recently moving into supporting deliberative processes. Emily was in the midst of facilitating one of Australia’s largest deliberative mini-publics with 350 people considering the future of nuclear fuel storage in South Australia when we did this interview.

Titus Alexander is a facilitator, educator and community capacity builder. Titus trained the other facilitators for the two Citizens’ Assemblies that Professor Graham Smith described in Episode 8. He is also the author of Practical Politics: Lessons in Power and Democracy a text book on learning practical politics, which is aimed at encouraging students and lecturers to develop political skills to create a more inclusive, empowering democracy.

Nov 27, 2016
I have asked all of my guests what they think is the essence of a real democracy. In this episode I showcase their responses.
 
Professor Carson sees the essence of a real democracy as being about self government and trust.
 
Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, founder of the newDemocracy Foundation, agreed that people should be able to govern themselves.
 
Professor Janette Hartz-Karp from Curtin University in Western Australia highlighted the need to consider the common good co-designed by the people.
 
Peter MacLeod from MASS LBP in Canada talked about giving citizens a role between elections with more opportunities for citizens to be involved.
 
Associate Professor Helene Landemore from Yale University democracy talked about inclusiveness and equality, where everyone has an equal chance of being heard in decision-making.
 
Iain Walker, the Executive Director of the newDemocracy Foundation, doesn’t believe that democracy equals the vote, rather it should be about acting on the informed will of the people.
 
Professor Graham Smith for Westminster University sees citizen participation at the heart of democracy with citizens able to participate in critical decisions which affect their lives.
 
Emily Jenke from DemocracyCo, a facilitation company in South Australia, its about active citizenship.
 
Titus Alexander from Democracy Matter in the UK believes the public should have an equal say in public decisions.
 
Associate Professor Caroline Lee from Lafayette University identifies social, economic and political equality being more balanced as important in a real democracy.
 
Jay Weatherill the Premier of South Australia, like Janette, sees citizens acting in the community interest as part of a real democracy.
 
And Professor Gerry Stoker from Southamption University proposes a real democracy would be one that allows people to participate when and how they want to, what he calls 'politics fit for amateurs'.
 
I’d love to know what you think is the essence of a real democracy. Please share you views with the Real Democracy Now! community on our Facebook page, by Twitter or on the website. I’ll share some of your perspectives in later episodes.
Nov 20, 2016

Professor Graham Smith from Westminster University was part of a number of academics who designed and ran the Democracy Matters project in 2015. This project involved two Citizens' Assemblies both considering devolution of local decision-making. 

In addition to being demonstration projects around engaging everyday citizens in decision-making about local governance these two process involved slightly different designs to allow the academics involved to test the impact of having elected representatives as part of the Citizens' Assembly. 

Graham explains the background to these two Citizens' Assemblies as well as the preliminary findings about the impact of having politicians as members of the Citizens' Assembly South.

For more information about the Democracy Matters project visit http://citizensassembly.co.uk/home-page/about/

 

Nov 14, 2016

The newDemocracy Foundation is a is an independent, non-partisan research organisation here is Australia that aims to identify improvements to our democratic process with a focus on promoting deliberative mini-publics as a key democratic reform.

Iain Walker is the Executive Director of the newDemocracy Foundation and has designed and managed over twenty deliberative mini-publics for local and State Governments in Australia. 

Iain explains the approach newDemocracy Foundation takes to the design of deliberative mini-publics generally and also sets out the example of the Melbourne People's Panel a 43 person deliberative mini-public, involving both residents and businesses, which advised the City of Melbourne Council on their 10-year budget. 

The newDemocracy Foundation makes all of their deliberative mini-public designs public on their website and recently designed and managed one of the largest citizens' juries in Australia, the South Australian Nuclear Citizens' Jury. 

Nov 6, 2016

Peter MacLeod is the CEO and Founder of MASS LBP, a Canadian consultancy focused on democratic innovation and public strategy. 

Since 2007, MASS has led some of the country's most original and ambitious efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy choices while pioneering the use of Civic Lotteries and Reference Panels on behalf of forward-thinking governments.

MASS LBP has conducted twenty-five major reference panels, citizens assemblies and commissions for government involving more than 1000 Canadians and reaching 250,000 households. Cumulatively, this represents some 30,000 hours of deliberation on significant public issues, making MASS an internationally-recognized and unparalleled leader in the design and delivery of deliberative processes for government.

Peter lays out how MASS approach the design of the reference panels they conduct including how they explain the purpose of these processes, how the invitations are designed and the size of the groups. 

He also takes us through a couple of processes they have conducted from the Residents’ Panel to Review the Condominium Act a multi-year process to update this piece of legislation to a hyper-local issue with Grandview-Woodland Community Plan Citizens’ Assembly.

And in case you were wondering LBP stands for Lead By People.

Oct 30, 2016
Professor Janette Hartz-Karp is a Professor in the Sustainability Policy Unit at Curtin University in Western Australia. As well as undertaking research in the area of democratic innovations Janette has lead numerous large innovative deliberative processes as community engagement consultant to the then Western Australian Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Allanah McTernan, and more recently with the City of Geraldton. 
 
Janette explains how she approaches the design of deliberative mini-publics focusing on three key elements: influence, deliberation, and representativeness.
 
Then she describes a number of processes she has designed and delivered including
  • Dialogue in the City, a large process involving 1,100 people both randomly selected citizens and stakeholders, looking at future planning for Perth
  • a Citizens' Jury involving residents from two communities agreeing on the location of freeway exit after eight years of argument and disagreement
  • an Enquiry by Design process to develop a Statutory Plan for Geraldton involving 300 people working with a multi-disciplinary design team responding to the participants' input
  • two participatory budgeting processes using citizens' juries to make recommendations on 100% of 10 year Capital Works budget and 100% of the Operational budget of Geraldton Council.
Oct 23, 2016

Deliberative mini-publics are a popular form of democratic innovation around the world. In today's episode I talk to a range of people to get their perspectives on what is behind this popularity.

Professor Graham Smith is a Professor of Politics in the Centre for the Study of Democracy, in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster in London.

Professor Janette Hartz-Karp, from the Sustainability Policy Unit at Curtin University in Western Australia. Janette is renowned nationally and internationally for her innovative work in community engagement and deliberative democracy.

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, the founder of the newDemocracy Foundation in Australia. The newDemocracy Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research organisation aiming to identify improvements to our democratic process with a focus on promoting deliberative mini-publics as a key democratic reform.

Peter McLeod, the Principal and Founder of MASS LBP a consultancy focused on democratic innovation and public strategy. Since 2007, MASS has led some of the country's most original and ambitious efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy choices while pioneering the use of Civic Lotteries and Reference Panels on behalf of forward-thinking governments.

Emily Jenke is the co-founder of Democracy Co a consultancy that works with governments, business, not-for profits and local communities to help them make better decisions together that improve the quality of people's lives.

Oct 16, 2016
Jay Weatherill is South Australia’s 45th Premier and has held that position since 2014. 
 
Under his leadership South Australia has become a leading light in democratic reform in Australia and around the world. In particular, South Australia has been at the forefront in the use of deliberative mini-publics, or citizens’ juries as they are often called here in Australia.
 
In South Australia the Government has conducted a number of citizens’ juries to address a range of issues including 
  • how to ensure their capital, Adelaide, has a safe and vibrant nightlife
  • how cars and bicycles can share the road safely
  • how to manage unwanted litters of dogs and cats
  • how to fund major infrastructure and most recently
  • how the State should respond to a Royal Commission’s findings about the nuclear fuel cycle.
Oct 12, 2016

Helene Landemore is an A/Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Her research interests include democratic theory and theories of justice.

Her book Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many, was based on her PhD research in which she demonstrated that decisions taken by the many are more likely to be right than decisions taken by the few.

Helene is currently working on another book about post-representative democracy, a hopefully not too distant future, where democratic innovations are implemented and truly change the nature of the relationship between citizens and their representatives.

 

Oct 12, 2016

Professor Carson is a world renowned expert on deliberative mini-publics, having researched, designed and run them as well as training others in how to engage with citizens through dialogue, deliberation and engagement. 

Carson is passionate about improving how democracy works. Carson would like to see Australia leading the way in democratic reform, perhaps by setting up a Citizens' Senate, providing a real exemplar for others to adopt.

Oct 12, 2016

Real Democracy Now! a podcast is for people who think we can and should do democracy better. 

In this podcast I talk with experts, practitioners, change agents and everyday people about how democracy works and how we might do it better.

Real Democracy Now! a podcast looks at democracy from different angles to help you think more deeply about democracy and identify the ways you think it could be improved.

The first season of Real Democracy Now! a podcast, will look at deliberative mini-publics, often called citizens’  juries, which are a very popular democratic innovation around the world.

If you want to know what deliberative mini-publics are listen to Episode 1 where I talk to Professor Carson, a world renowned expert on these type of innovations.

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