The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

Mar 27th
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The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

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The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) is an alliance of leading organizations and scholars working in the field of public engagement, participation, and deliberation. The purpose of the DDC is to build knowledge, strengthen networks, and forge collaborations among researchers, practitioners, funders, and public officials at all levels of government, in order to improve democratic practice and democratic governance. While the DDC’s primary arena of action is in North America, we are part of a global learning community dedicated to the same fundamental values and goals.

Democratic innovations are proliferating rapidly, and many of these practices and structures provide meaningful ways for citizens to learn, deliberate, act, and affect policy decisions.  However, this remains a large, diffuse, often disconnected set of people – it is a movement that, at this stage, may be less than the sum of its parts. The DDC is dedicated to connecting these disparate actors in a sustained, purposeful, and collaborative learning community. We are not a professional association, nor are we a network focused primarily on an annual conference; rather, we are a diverse alliance that continually assesses the main challenges and opportunities facing the field, and moves quickly to generate and disseminate critical information, innovations, and tools.

Examples of our recent and ongoing work include:

  • Publications such as Public Participation in 21st Century Democracy (Wiley-Blackwell 2015), Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection (PACE 2014), Democracy in Motion (Oxford UP 2012) Using Online Tools to Engage – and be Engaged by – the Public (IBM Center for the Business of Government 2011), Planning for Stronger Local Democracy (National League of Cities 2011), and The Deliberative Democracy Handbook (Jossey-Bass 2005).
  • Periodicals such as the Journal of Public Deliberation, a free, online, peer-reviewed publication that has become the leading journal in the field, and is now also supported by the International Association for Public Participation; also the DDC website and a DDC e-bulletin that reports on new resources and developments from around the world.
  • Meetings and conferences such as the annual “Frontiers of Democracy” conference (organized in concert with the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts); special Researcher & Practitioner meetings, and sessions at the annual conferences of the National League of Cities (NLC), International City and County Management Association (ICMA), National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), and many other associations.
  • Innovations such as Text, Talk, and Act, a nationwide, text-enabled, face-to-face discussion that has engaged thousands of young people in dialogue and action on issues of mental health, as part of President Obama’s National Dialogue on Mental Health.
  • Reforms such as the Model Ordinance on Public Participation and Model State Act on Public Participation, created by a working group (coordinated by DDC) that included the International Municipal Lawyers’ Association, American Bar Association, National Civic League, Policy Consensus Initiative, NLC, ICMA, and NCDD.


The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) is a network of practitioners and researchers representing more than 50 organizations and universities, collaborating to strengthen the field of deliberative democracy. The Consortium seeks to support research activities and to advance practice at all levels of government, in North America and around the world.

[Image: AmericaSpeaks' 21st Century Town Meeting]


JPD logoThe Journal of Public Deliberation is a collaboration between the DDC, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and the Center for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University. An online, refereed journal, JPD is the flagship publication in its field, and an important catalyst for the rapid growth of interest in democracy, citizenship, and participation. Find it at


DDC eBulletin

  • Want training in public participation? Choose the courses you want to see at the IAP2 Skills Symposium in late May – Trainers include Matt Leighninger, Tina Nabatchi, Steve Clift, Anne Carroll, Kyle Bozentko, and Marty Rozelle.
  • If we gave citizens more ways to measure democracy, they would have more ways to improve it – @TechPresident
  • Nonprofits that take advantage of new thick and thin forms of engagement can thrive – @GatesSunlight
  • “If forms of government can be likened to operating systems, current variants of democracy are like early, primitive versions of Windows.” “They are neither optimally functional nor user-friendly – they are buggy, susceptible to malware, and lack desired features.”
  • The “People’s Lobby,” which allows people to generate legislation for City Council consideration, and includes a deliberative phase, starts up in Provo, Utah –
  • “Morris Engaged,” which combines education, deliberation, and citizen-led action on climate change in rural Minnesota, has been named a finalist in the Environmental Initiative awards – @JeffersonCtr
  • The National Civic League has announced the finalists for the 2015 All-America City Award – @allamericacity
  • Can we fix voting, a part of democracy, without strengthening the other aspects of democracy? Probably not. And why would we, when the more participatory aspects of democracy offer so many other benefits? Unfortunately, none of those are mentioned in this piece, which is another example of why conflating “democracy” with voting doesn’t help.
  • “Rather than blame our leaders for the dysfunction, we need to change the game.” This article includes some examples of how engaging citizens in participatory ways – and treating democracy as more than just voting – can tackle problems like climate change that seem politically impossible to address.

DDC on social media

For news, resources, and updates on deliberation, participation, and democratic governance around the world, like DDC on Facebook, follow @mattleighninger on Twitter, or connect with mattleighninger on LinkedIn.

The Next Form of Democracy

Beneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. The stories of civic experiments in "The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance -- and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same" by DDC Executive Director Matt Leighninger show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics. Learn more...

Deliberative Democracy Handbook

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook is the first book to bring together the best practices and thinkin on deliberative citizen participation processes. Deliberative democracy is the nationwide movement to make citizen participation meaningful and effective. Learn more...

Deliberative Democracy Handbook Cover

Journal of Public Deliberation
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