Ethics and Benefits of Digital Tech in Engagement

As technology rapidly continues to grow, organizations are working to understand the many impacts of tech on the shape and future of our democracy. NCDD member organization Public Agenda explores these impacts in their new report, Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement and the Future of Politics. In the article below, they share some of their findings on the complicated nature of tech, ethical use of geo-location, and the capacity for deeper community engagement. You can read the article below and find the original version on the Public Agenda blog here.


Geo-locating Protest: The Changing Role of Tech in Social Movements – Part 1

New from Public Agenda, Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement and the Future of Politics, explores how the latest technological trends may reshape our democracy, our politics, and our daily lives. In a series of blog posts, we are sharing some of the stories from the paper to illustrate some of the impacts on journalism, political advocacy, city planning, and other fields.

In this latest installment of the Rewiring Democracy blog series, we explore technology’s role in mobilizing movements, while highlighting an example of how micro-targeting and messaging is being used in troubling ways.

GEO-LOCATING PROTEST: THE REVOLUTION COMES TO YOUR DOORSTEP

In 2016, women in several cities began receiving pop-up ads on their smartphones whenever they went near or inside a clinic providing abortions. The ads, which had been sent by anti-choice/ pro-life organizers, offered advice to women who were contemplating abortion. These particular women had been targeted because they had previously looked for Planned Parenthood information online. This practice was ruled an illegal infringement of personal health care data by the attorney general of Massachusetts, but it is one of a number of examples that signal a new phase in the use of technology by activists.

From the Arab Spring to the Tea Party to Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, protesters, organizers, and mobilizers of all political stripes and ideologies have been using the internet to connect and coordinate their movements. Their values and goals are obviously very different, but they all face new tactical opportunities for reaching supporters and achieving their political objectives. One major opportunity arises from the way in which the internet has become increasingly tied to geographic location. In addition to the geographic information system (GIS) capacity of smartphones, the number of people who have joined hyperlocal online spaces has risen exponentially. By connecting to people where they are and where they live, activists, officials and other leaders can advance their causes in ways that are more direct and “in your face” – and in ways that leverage political power because they fit the geography of political jurisdictions.

MOVEMENT CONSCIOUSNESS

There are multiple factors that affect whether people are willing to join a protest or movement, but across many different societies and situations, the psychological reasons often seem to be the most influential. The mere fact that people are oppressed or discriminated against doesn’t necessarily mean that they will mobilize, rebel, or just speak up. They are more likely to act when they begin to feel that they are not alone, that their voices will be heard, and that their cause can achieve critical mass.

Some existing, widely-used digital technologies have helped organizers build a broader movement consciousness:

  • Photo-sharing, which is a core component of almost every major social media platform, allows people to see their movement in action. For example, many of the students who participated in “Text, Talk, Act” during the National Dialogue on Mental Health tweeted photos of their groups. By uploading, sharing, and tagging pictures and videos, people can provide visual evidence that they are part of something larger than themselves.
  • Participatory mapping, one of the first uses of geo-locating capacities of our devices, enabled people to see themselves in relation to a physical space. Protesters during the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the anti-austerity demonstrations in Spain were able to map their locations, producing visual proof that they could peacefully dominate the streets and plazas of their cities.
  • Posting and commenting through social media, in itself, has allowed people to contribute to or even dominate the narrative on a particular issue or cause. Recognizing this new threat, many governments and corporations have created “troll farms” and other sophisticated operations to try to retake control of the narrative, amplify their own messages, and even to target, harass, and intimidate protesters.
  • Instant polling, which can be accomplished through a wide array of tools, apps, and platforms, can also be used to gauge support for particular actions and to show that large numbers of people stand behind a given cause or movement.

Organizers are using these and other tools to compel people to consciously step forward and join causes and movements. Protesters used social media posts to rapidly gather and heckle Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about immigration policies as they dined in public restaurants. Increasingly, organizers have the capacity to use subconscious technologies, like the anti-abortion/pro-life protesters in Massachusetts, to target potential recruits and people they are trying to influence.

By bringing the revolution(s) to our doorstep, the capacity to make protest and mobilization hyperlocal and geo-locatable has the potential to make political conflict more extreme and more personal. It raises new questions about the rules of the game, the role of tech corporations in the public square, and whether these new conditions also present possibilities for bridge-building and compromise.

As notions of space and place change, can technology create new opportunities for people to connect and work together? We’ll explore this as well as who owns the public square in “Geo-locating Protest: Tech’s Role in Advancing Movements” Part 2 in the next installment of this blog series on Rewiring Democracy.

You can find the original version of this article on the Public Agenda blog at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/geolocating-protests-and-techs-role-in-advancing-movements-part-i.

Legislation in Florida That Could Impact Social Studies

Friends and colleagues,

The Florida Legislature has had busy session! This post is intended to just loop you in on where legislation that could impact social studies stands after the most recent session. Please note that we here at FJCC/LFI take no political position on any of this. This is intended to be informative, with some consideration of potential impact. We encourage you to visit the state Senate’s Bill Tracker for more information. 

HB 741–anti-Semitism is to be treated in the same manner as racial discrimination. It also defines anti-Semitism and includes criticizing Israeli actions without context or unreasonably within that definition. This is something to keep in mind as we think about instruction on the Holocaust or racism and discrimination in general, as well as when discussing current events with our kids.

HB 7071-removes the financial literacy standards from economics and creates a separate fin lit hs elective. It is unclear what the impact of this will be. On the one hand, it creates an actual financial literacy course for the first time, and all districts and high schools must offer it. However, that course is intended to be an elective; with the financial literacy removed from the mandatory economics course, how many students will actualy be getting financial literacy? Just something to think about; it’s a good first step on a necessary path, but what else can we do?

HB 807– requires a comprehensive review and potential revision of K-12 civic education benchmarks and related resources. The legislation identifies the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, iCivics, the Bill of Rights Institute, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, ConSource, and Hillsdale College as the lead review organizations, with other stakeholders and organizations able to contribute. At this point, we don’t know how they will implement this, but it is VERY likely to affect civics in Florida. Ironically, Florida is recognized nationally for its strong civic education approach. It requires a review of both instructional resources and the test item specifications, so will be significant! 

SB7030- implements the recommendations of the MSD high school public safety commission and allows districts to authorize select teachers to have access to firearms on campus. It is, not surprisingly, pretty divisive legislation.

SB 1342 makes it easier for kids to take part in dual enrollment, lowering the GPA to 2.5 and prohibits limitations on student participation. The goal here is to address college costs and provide a greater degree of choice for parents and students.

Executive Order 19-32 requires a review and revision of math and ELA standards to remove any and all vestiges of ‘common core’ and orders new attention on preparing kids with ‘American civics’, among other things. The Florida Council for the Social Studies, as well as the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, are some of the stakeholder organizations asked to provide feedback on the revised standards. You can take part in the review process as well by registering on the EdCredible platform. 

So that’s where things stand as of May of 2019. Things could of course change again. But certainly social studies in this state will be significantly impacted by some of the legislation awaiting a signature!

NCDD Discount on Davenport Institute Local Gov’t Certificate

We’re excited to share that NCDD member org, the Davenport Institute, in partnership with the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, is offering their next professional Certificate in Advanced Public Engagement for Local Government [non-academic] from July 19-21, 2019 in Malibu, CA. Excellent for anyone involved or working with local government, or in graduate school for local government/public policy. NCDD members receive a 20% discount off the tuition, so make sure you register ASAP to receive this great benefit. They are accepting applications until the class is full, so sign up while you still can! You can read the announcement below or on the Pepperdine School of Public Policy’s website here.


Professional Certificate in Advanced Public Engagement: Three-Day Intensive Workshop for Local Government Practitioners

In an age where trust in government (and indeed in all institutions) is at an all time low, and indifference toward local government is at an all time high, the very future of local representative democracy requires leaders with a new skill – an ability to break through cynicism and mistrust and engage residents in local policy. From public safety, to city budgets and spending, to planning and environmental policies, today’s challenges need leaders who can re-vitalize public involvement and lead residents engaged in the difficult work of self-government.

Over this long weekend at the Villa Graziadio on the Pepperdine Malibu campus, mid-career professionals are prepared to lead a publicly-engaged organization by gaining a deep understanding of the context, purpose, and best practices for engaging residents in the decisions that affect their lives and communities. 

Next Certificate Offering
July 19-21, 2019: Malibu, CA

The cost of the Professional Certificate is $1990, which includes instruction, materials, and meals. Many participants secure funds for training from their employer to support their participation in this program. Limited financial aid may be available.

Applicants who are accepted to the program can receive a 20% discount when they use the code “NCDD” during registration.

You can read the announcement on the Pepperdine School of Public Policy’s website at www.publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/certificate-public-engagement.

Rewiring Democracy

Matt Leighninger and Quixada Moore-Vissing have published “Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement, and the Future of Politics” (Public Agenda 2018).

I would pick out this major contrast from the complex document of 68 pages.

  • On one hand, technologies are being used ubiquitously to influence individuals and the political world without our conscious awareness. Examples include tools that allow organizations to predict what individuals want without having to ask them, techniques for microtargeting messages, and methods of surveillance.
  • On the other hand, people are deliberately inventing and using new tools for civic purposes, i.e., for free and intentional self-governance. Examples include tools for collecting contributions of money or time and techniques for circulating information in geographical communities.

Much depends on which force prevails, and that depends on us.

The report ends with 3-page case studies of civic innovations. Public Agenda is also publishing those examples separately, starting with a nice piece on the changing role of tech on social movements. It explores how contemporary social movements share photos and collaboratively produce maps, among other developments.

See also: democracy in the digital age; the new manipulative politics: behavioral economics, microtargeting, and the choice confronting Organizing for Action; qualms about Behavioral Economics; when society becomes fully transparent to the state

A Public Voice 2019 Tomorrow and More D&D Events

This week’s roundup features webinars from NCDD member orgs Everyday DemocracyNational Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), Living Room Conversations, as well as, from On the Table and  the International Associate for Public Participation.

Coming up tomorrow, you can participate with A Public Voice 2019 as it’s live streamed via Facebook. Ask your questions to folks on the Hill as they explore the current state and future of public deliberation as this long-standing annual event hosted by NCDD member organizations – the Kettering Foundation and NIFI. Learn how to participate at #APV2019 here.

NCDD’s online D&D event roundup is a weekly compilation of the upcoming events happening in the digital world related to dialogue, deliberation, civic tech, engagement work, and more! Do you have a webinar or other digital event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!


Upcoming Online D&D Events: A Public Voice 2019, Everyday Democracy, NIFI, On the Table, IAP2, Living Room Conversations

Everyday Democracy webinar – Civility and Civil Discourse in an Age of Divisiveness

EvDem LogoThursday, May 9th
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Our nation is facing a most difficult time in its history, as there seems to be less and less tolerance for different points of view, facts are often ignored to accommodate partisan demagoguery, and antagonism and divisiveness have reached new heights. How can we find new ways to talk to each other across difference? How can we find it in ourselves to be open-minded for considering new ways of thinking? How can we engage with those who hold different views from our own to find common ground, even when we disagree on some key issues? Hosted by UCONN doctoral candidate Dana Miranda who is a Connecticut Civic Ambassador, Mr. Miranda co-runs the Initiative on Campus Dialogues and the Encounters Series at UCONN.

REGISTER: www.facebook.com/events/584605612016588/

A Public Voice 2019 Livestream on Facebook

Thursday, May 9th
9:30am Pacific, 12:30 Eastern

On May 9, 2019, the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) will host A Public Voice 2019 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The 9:30-11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, panel discussion will be livestreamed on Facebook, where viewers will be welcome to post their comments.

LEARN MOREhttp://ncdd.org/29641

CGA Forum on “A House Divided: What Would We Have to Give Up to Get the Political System We Want?”

Thursday, May 9th
9:30am Pacific, 12:30 Eastern

Join us after the 2019 A Public Voice broadcast for a Common Ground for Action forum on “A House Divided: What Would We Have to Give Up to Get the Political System We Want?” We’ll be talking about how to fix our broken political system in three different options.

REGISTER: www.nifi.org/en/events/2019-public-voice-cga-forum-house-dividedwhat-would-we-have-give-get-political-system-we-want

On the Table 101 webinar

Thursday, May 9th
1 pm Pacific, 4 pm Eastern

Join @Lilly Weinberg,  Director/Community & National Initiatives at Knight Foundation for this webinar that will give an overview of the history of On the Table, review the basics for implementing this initiative in your community and answer your questions.

REGISTER: www.onthetablenetwork.com/events/299

IAP2 Monthly Webinar: Victoria Encore – “Youth Shaping Cities”

Tuesday, May 14th
11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern

This session critically examines the underpinning theory and systemic barriers that continue to exclude youth participation, resulting in civic disengagement, lack of trust, and significant missed opportunities. By analyzing case studies and sharing best practices, techniques, and tools, we hope to empower engagement practitioners to re-imagine and redesign their youth engagement practices.

REGISTER: https://iap2usa.org/event-3167784

SPECIAL Online Living Room Conversation: Race and Ethnicity Conversation Series

Tuesdays, May 14 & 21
11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern

Check Out this four-minute video from a previous Race & Ethnicity Conversation Series to get a taste of this conversation! In this series of three in-depth conversations, participants explore the complexities of the concepts of Race, Ethnicity, and their impacts on people from all walks of life. We will cover new questions from the three Race & Ethnicity conversation guides found here.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/special-online-living-room-conversation-race-and-ethnicity-conversation-series/

Online Living Room Conversation: Power of Empathy

Wednesday, May 15th
7:30 pm Pacific, 4:30 pm Eastern

Empathy goes beyond concern or sympathy. Empathy is stepping into the shoes of another with the intention to better understand and feel what they are experiencing. The power of empathy can bridge our “us vs. them” perceptions and lead to new solutions, improved relationships, better strategies for social change, reduction in loneliness, and realization of our shared human needs and oneness. This conversation is about sharing experiences giving, receiving, and observing empathy.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-power-of-empathy/

college and mobility

Xiang Zhou has published “Equalization or Selection? Reassessing the ‘Meritocratic Power’ of a College Degree in Intergenerational Income Mobility” in the American Sociological Review–also available here. Like all multivariate statistical models, it’s subject to criticism and should be replicated using other datasets and specifications. But it’s certainly interesting and very well presented.

For background, here is Raj Chetty’s graph from a different source, showing the relationship between Americans’ family incomes when they were growing up and their incomes as adults, both expressed as percentiles.

If it showed a straight line from 0,0 to 100,100 with a slope of one, that would imply a perfect correlation between generations. It would imply zero mobility, although it would be consistent with some random movement up and down the income ladder that would be concealed by displaying averages. Instead, we see a basically straight line from 0,30 to 100,70 with a slope of about .4. People at the very bottom do tend to rise a bunch of ranks (if they survive to adulthood), and people at the very top do average below where their parents were. In short, there is a strong correlation across generations with some reversion to the mean.

The graphs in Zhou’s article use a similar format but they show the data for young US adults depending on whether they graduated from college or not. Graduates are shown in blue, non-graduates in red.

In this first pair, the graphs show the raw data and then the same data reweighted for a bunch of variables that were measured while the subjects were still in high school: their “gender, race, Hispanic status, mother’s years of schooling, father’s presence, number of siblings, urban residence, educational expectation, the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) percentile score.”

It’s clear that you should go to college. A person whose parents were at the 25th income percentile ends up at the 30th percentile if she doesn’t graduate from college, and above the 60th if she does. But the slope is flatter for college students than non-college students without reweighting; and the lines are closer together and parallel when reweighted.

Zhou interprets this pattern to mean that people who are able to attend college (due to financial resources, a high school diploma, motivation, etc.) end up better off than those who are not able to attend, but college itself adds no noticeable benefit. To put it another way, if we used public policy to move everyone to the blue line by making them all college graduates, the slope of the blue line would remain fairly flat and it would cross the y-axis at a lower point, because it’s impossible that everyone in a society should rise to a higher income percentile than their parents.

Here are the same patterns when Zhou distinguishes between selective and non-selective colleges. The slope for the non-selective colleges is steeper (which could imply that they are better at mobility), but the difference between the selective and non-selective colleges is not statistically significant after reweighting.

If Zhou is right, universal college would not improve economic mobility at all. The line would be fairly flat and lower than the current line for college grads. The economic advantages of college are due to stratification, not the experience of being in college.

See also: to what extent can colleges promote upward mobility?; sorting out human welfare, equity and mobility; social capital and economic mobility

New Podcast Launches on Healing Root Divisions in US

NCDD members, Erin and David Leaverton recently announced the launch of their new podcast, Hello My Name is America! Last year, the Leavertons traveled to each of the 50 states with their three young children to talk and listen with folks from across the country about what are the deep divisions they experience – listen to our Confab recording to hear more about Leavertons’ story. Their new podcast shares the experiences of the individuals they met along the way and seeks to explore the root causes of divisions in the US. We will include this on our podcast compilation post on the blog (where you can find many other podcasts related to dialogue and deliberation). Learn more about the new, Hello My Name is America! podcast in the post below, and on the Undivided Nation blog where you can also listen to the episodes.


Hello My Name is America! podcast

Erin and I are thrilled to announce the launch of Undivided Nation’s podcast, Hello My Name is America!

After spending a transformative year on the road traveling to all 50 states, we are excited to introduce you to the people whose stories have reshaped our understanding of both ourselves and our country.

While the future of America might seem dim, the realities we’ve discovered fill us with hope that our brightest days are indeed ahead. Dive in with us as we explore the root causes of America’s divisions and explore what it would take to heal our deep divides.

To listen, follow the steps below and please take a moment to help us spread the word!

Step 1: Listen and Subscribe
Apple Podcast | Android | Desktop | RSS

Step 2: Spread the Word
Facebook | Twitter

Episode 1: Introducing: Hello My Name is America
The right question posed at the right time has the power to totally rearrange one’s life. At least this was the case for us. Join us on episode number one, as we retell the story of the day a single question did just that, and served as the catalyst for what would become a journey for our family to live in all 50 states over the course of one year, learning about the root causes of division and searching for the keys that could help us heal America’s deep divides. Listen here!

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Undivided Nation blog at https://undividednation.us/hello-my-name-is-america

the Green New Deal and civic renewal

Here’s a short case for a Green New Deal:

  1. We face a climate emergency.
  2. Government spending must be part of the solution. Even if we passed a robust carbon tax, we still need coordinated action that can’t be accomplished by individuals and firms that are trying to minimize their taxes. For example, building a new power grid, shifting some traffic from a national network of highways and gas stations to a more sustainable transportation system, and subsidizing basic research are goals that need coordinated solutions. Note that most actual work will still be done by companies (that’s true in Europe as well as the USA); the question is who should plan and pay for it. I suspect the payer must be the government, borrowing at currently low rates and using tax revenues to finance the debt.
  3. If we are going to spend trillions, we must spend it equitably. That means not just distributing the resources fairly but using them to combat accumulated injustices. Jobs and profits must go to the people who deserve and need them most. Deciding who those people are requires a theory of justice; and in my view, such a theory requires attention to racial injustice as well as class differences.
  4. Politically, the way to pass a major economic reform is to ensure it serves many interests. Although it may offend purist notions of good government and detract from the cost-effectiveness of our response to climate change, we’re probably going to have to make a big spending package a bit of a “Christmas tree,” with some additions that address legitimate concerns apart from the climate and some that just help get the bill through Congress.

Meanwhile, we also face a sustained decline in certain aspects of our civil society, with fewer Americans associating, organizing, and exercising power. This is one reason that our political system fails to address issues like climate change and racial injustice.

The original New Deal supported civic life in at least three ways.

First, the Civilian Conservation Corps added an explicit civic education curriculum to its public works projects, striving to teach the participants to be responsible and effective citizens.

Second, programs like the WPA not only employed Americans to do important work but also empowered them to make creative decisions about what work to do. The WPA’s artists, architects, engineers, craftspeople, and laborers contributed their talents and ideas, thus gaining a sense that they (not the government) were rebuilding America.

Third, Roosevelt explicitly supported unions, which not only increased workers’ take-home pay but also recruited them into powerful, autonomous, durable groups.

Could we do this again? One component would be big employment programs that provide civic and workforce education for the people who insulate houses or build public transit. That was already the proposal of Van Jones’ 2008 book The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. His chapter four is entitled “The Green New Deal.” It almost goes without saying that most federally supported jobs should be unionized jobs.

Another component would be support for civil society groups. Rural electric cooperatives own 42 percent of the distribution lines in the US and serve 12 percent of the population. They have already shifted somewhat more to renewables than the energy industry as a whole (even though they are disproportionately based in conservative states). At the same time, they provide opportunities for Americans to participate in governing significant assets–for instance, at their required annual public meetings. They should be favored along with urban analogues.

A third component would be lots of support for innovative solutions by smallish groups– for-profit startups as well as nonprofits. If you invent a company that has a positive impact on the climate, you are doing public work.

Fourth, people should have more and better ways to influence and even create policy, at all scales. The traditional means include formats like public meetings, which devolve into lines of angry citizens who each get 30 seconds to yell at the decision-makers. Check out Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger’s book Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy (2015) for better ideas.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, to address social justice, we need an account of what justice requires. That is a contested matter, appropriately so. It involves conflicting goods, from the intrinsic value of nature to the principle of liberty to concerns about past injustices. We won’t reach consensus, because these issues are complex and we differ in our values, identities, beliefs, and interests. But we can have a better or worse conversation about justice at all scales, from neighborhoods to the US Congress. Better conversations require better institutions, from neighborhood centers and listserves to broadcast news.

It would be important not to detract from the ranked priorities of (1) combating climate change and (2) remedying injustice, but a thoughtful approach could use civic means to accomplish these goals. In fact, civic engagement can strengthen the environmental benefits. For example, although it takes time to involve the public in designing a new transportation system, the chances are then greater that people will use the system. And unless they use it, it does no good for the climate.

I would not go so far as to argue that civic engagement always makes programs work better. Engagement can be done well or badly. There can also be tradeoffs between good engagement processes and efficiency. The most difficult challenge for environmentalists may be that active citizens resist directing resources efficiently to climate issues, because their agendas are broader. But I do think it’s worth investing in civic engagement to maximize the advantages for (1) climate, (2) justice, and (3) civic life.

See also national service in the stimulus; empowering citizens to make sure the stimulus is well spent; public engagement in the stimulus: Virginia’s example; an overlooked win for civic renewal: federally qualified health centers; work, not service. And see Harry C Boyte, “Populism or socialism? The divided heart of the Green New Deal.”

JPD Seeks Submissions on Upcoming Special Issue

The Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is currently looking for contributions on an upcoming special issue, Citizens, Media and Politics in Challenging Times: Perspectives on the Deliberative Quality of Communication. JPD is a peer-reviewed journal on deliberative democracy and is a collaboration between the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) and the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). We encourage folks in our network to learn more about the opportunity in the post below. Manuscripts need to be submitted by July 31st and decisions will be made this November with the goal of a 2020 publication date. Read the announcement below and find the original information on the IAP2 site here.


Journal of Public Deliberation: Call for Papers for Special Issue

Journal of Public Deliberation is a peer review, open access journal with the principal objective of synthesizing the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the multi-disciplinary field of “deliberative democracy.”

Manuscripts due on 31 July 2019.

Growing anti-immigration attitudes, rising nationalist tendencies, landslide victories of populist figures as well as the dissolution of national and supranational entities – these are just some of the multiple political and societal challenges western democracies are facing nowadays. These challenges have been said to affect the way citizens, the media and political actors communicate among and with each other. More specifically, concerns about the deliberative quality of these communications have been put forward. While this observation has so far been corroborated by a series of isolated studies, which produced not more than a few islands of analysis, an integrative and comprehensive perspective on the deliberative qualities of citizens’, journalists’, and politicians’ communication is yet missing.

The special issue Citizens, Media and Politics in Challenging Times: Perspectives on the Deliberative Quality of Communication thus addresses this gap in the literature by systematically bringing together different strands of research on the deliberative qualities of citizens’, journalists’, and politicians’ communication. The special issue thus aims at providing an integrative and comprehensive picture on modern political communication in times western democracies are facing a multitude of disruptive challenges. Theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions focusing on the deliberative qualities of citizens’, journalists’, and politicians’ communication are welcome. Topics and questions of interest include, but are not limited to:

  1. The deliberative quality of political debates: To which extent do political debates come close to the genuine benchmarks of deliberation? How deliberative is political communication transmitted via different channels (e.g., media types, media formats) as well as by different actors (e.g., journalists, politicians)? How is the deliberative quality of these debates perceived by the public?
  2. Determinants and consequences of citizens’ deliberation: Which role do arguments and scientific evidence play in promoting the quality of citizens’ deliberation? Does civic deliberation indeed result in “better” outcomes? To which extent is civic deliberation positively related to political participation?
  3. Uncivil online communication and deliberative interventions: To what degree does the deliberative quality of user comments reflect the deliberative quality of the news coverage? How does online deliberation via user comments develop over time? How do users interact when encountering dissonant viewpoints? To which extent are online civic interventions a panacea for disruptive and uncivil online behavior?

Submission Guidelines

Submissions need to speak to the deliberative democracy and democratic innovations literature.

When preparing your submission, please check the JPD website for guidelines on style and paper length: https://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/author_instructions.html

Please submit your manuscript to the following email address: si.jpd@mzes.uni-mannheim.de

Questions about the special issue shall be directed to the guest editors Christiane Grill and Anne Schäfer under the email address: si.jpd@mzes.uni-mannheim.de

The deadline for manuscripts to be considered for the special issue is July 31, 2019. Manuscripts will be peer reviewed and a decision rendered until November 2019 with a target publication of the issue in 2020.

Editorial Information

Guest Editor: Christiane Grill Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, University of Mannheim

Guest Editor: Anne Schäfer Department of Political Science, University of Mannheim

Join in as The Public Square Academy Launches Beta Group

The Public Square Academy, a modern civics education and service club, recently announced the launch of their new beta group and they are currently seeking participants to join! NCDD member Michael Freedman shared this opportunity to join this new beta group which seeks to explore journalism’s impact on society, improve how we engage with the media, and provide a space for folks to build deeper relationships with each other. The group will test the short, interactive program, Media Meal Planning, which works to help you improve your personal media consumption practices. You can learn more in the announcement below and find the original version on The Public Square Academy’s site here. We encourage interested folks to sign up ASAP, as the group is starting soon and will run from May 13 to June 7th, 2019.


Join Our Beta

At The Public Square Academy, we believe that a democracy is only as good as the citizens who care for it. We support individuals on their journeys to becoming educated, empowered, and engaged citizens serving the greater common good.

PSA is a modern civics education and service club for today’s fast-paced, tech-enabled world. We would like to invite you to participate in the beta program of The Public Square Academy’s interactive subscription.

Join with other Public Square Members to tackle issues affecting our democracy, our society, and our communities.  The Academy is a team-based approach to self-improvement and for the common good. Each month our learning teams focus on important topics, engage in challenges, and craft solutions to share with the community.

Our Beta group will explore Media Meal Planning, a short, interactive program to help you improve your personal media consumption practices. Learn about the fundamental role of Journalism in society, what practices make for good reporting, and how editorial policies shape what you read.  Working in small groups, you will participate in a virtual Pub Crawl, to test develop your criteria for selecting and judging media outlets. The results of this challenge will be a collective rating of media outlets to be distributed broadly.  Come join the fun!

Program Objectives:

  • You will become more savvy media consumers, selecting higher quality media, outlets, and journalists.
  • You will be more efficient in staying up to date on current events and news – freeing up your time for other pursuits.
  • You will become better informed, which will get you invited to all the right dinner parties!
  • You will have fun and make new connections while learning!
  • And… maybe we can raise the level of intelligent, civil dialog on the planet!   Even just a bit.

Our beta group will run from May 13 to June 7th, 2019. We will send you more details on May 10th.

Expect to spend an hour or so per week on your own study, and participate in a weekly video conference meeting with your learning team.

You can learn more about the beta group on The Public Square Academy site at https://thepublicsquare.academy/.