Leadership through Public Engagement

MPP 688

(3 units)

One of the fastest growing fields in state and local governance is known variously as public engagement, deliberative democracy, or democratic governance. Founded on the central premise of gaining input on difficult public policy issues from non-elected, "everyday" citizens, several different methodologies of deriving these opinions have been developed over the last three decades. With its expanding popularity have come critiques of deliberative democracy from respected conservative and liberal political thinkers. These attacks range from the Constitutional to the philosophical to the practical and address such questions as whether it is legal for unelected citizens to make policy decisions in a representative democracy, if they can be expected to formulate solutions to extremely complex public policy problems, and how these deliberative bodies will be chosen. This seminar-style course will allow students to analyze and wrestle with the philosophical underpinnings of this extremely exciting field, study the various deliberative democracy formats in the state and local context through case studies and direct discussions with some of the current practitioners, and develop resources vital to understanding the central question of any democratic republic: What is the role of the citizen?