Over the past several months, experts in public dialogue, facilitation and collaborative decision-making worked together to develop 7 "Core Principles for Public Engagement." The authors and editors of these principles have spent years creating and honing innovative techniques that help people talk constructively about difficult issues that effect their lives--issues like health care, crime, and conflict between ethnic groups.
We consider these 7 principles to be the fundamental components of quality public engagement, and we propose that federal agencies adopt these principles to guide their public engagement work.
Engaging people around the issues that affect their lives and their country is a key component of a strong democratic society. Effective public engagement goes beyond public relations and information-sharing by providing ways for people with a variety of viewpoints to grapple with issues together and come up with creative solutions.
- The Core Principles for Public Engagement -
These seven recommendations reflect the common beliefs and understandings of those working in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and collaboration. In practice, people apply these and additional principles in many different ways.
1. Careful Planning and Preparation
Through adequate and inclusive planning, ensure that the design, organization, and convening of the process serve both a clearly defined purpose and the needs of the participants.
2. Inclusion and Demographic Diversity
Equitably incorporate diverse people, voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
3. Collaboration and Shared Purpose
Support and encourage participants, government and community institutions, and others to work together to advance the common good.
4. Openness and Learning
Help all involved listen to each other, explore new ideas unconstrained by predetermined outcomes, learn and apply information in ways that generate new options, and rigorously evaluate public engagement activities for effectiveness.
5. Transparency and Trust
Be clear and open about the process, and provide a public record of the organizers, sponsors, outcomes, and range of views and ideas expressed.
6. Impact and Action
Ensure each participatory effort has real potential to make a difference, and that participants are aware of that potential.
7. Sustained Engagement and Participatory Culture
Promote a culture of participation with programs and institutions that support ongoing quality public engagement.
More details about each of these principles, info about who took part in creating them and how, and a growing list of endorsements can all be found at www.thataway.org/pep . Also feel free to email me (Sandy Heierbacher, Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation) at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or want to get involved.