The Yankelovich Center

The Yankelovich Center: Advancing Civic Engagement


Daniel Yankelovich

As a pioneer and intellectual leader in the field of public opinion research, the social scientist Daniel Yankelovich has drawn a distinction between public opinion—how people respond to an issue or problem initially—and public judgment—how people respond once they have given a matter more serious attention, weighed options for addressing it and been exposed to a variety of viewpoints. For the United States to make wise and sustainable choices about its future, we need to understand public judgment and how to cultivate it.

Dan cofounded Public Agenda in 1975 with Cy Vance, Sr. with precisely this need in mind. In 2015, we launched the Yankelovich Center for Public Judgment to develop, disseminate and apply Dan’s seminal ideas about democracy, including how the public comes to judgment, the public’s critical role in the functioning of a just and effective democracy and the conditions that help the public to play that role.

The Yankelovich Center is rooted in both Dan’s thinking and philosophy and in the work of its predecessor, the Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE). Via the Yankelovich Center, we conduct original research, create tools, convene practitioners and thought leaders and join public conversations relevant to public judgment, public engagement, public participation, deliberative democracy, civic education and governance.

The Yankelovich Center explores questions including:

  • How do our increasingly fragmented news media, highly polarized national politics, fast-changing information and communications technologies and changing demographics affect the public’s ability to engage issues productively and come to public judgment?
  • What are the prime obstacles and enablers of public judgment in communities on community problems and nationally on national and international problems?
  • How does public judgment affect important changes in public policy or community life?
  • What are the best ways to cultivate public judgment and civic engagement among millennials, groups with low voting and political participation rates, or among and across people from very different cultural backgrounds?
  • What can be done to encourage a broader understanding of the concept of public judgment among elected officials and the media? How can existing institutions better support a more active, engaged and informed public and what are the most promising new institutions, tools and strategies?
  • What role should the ideas and practices of public judgment and civic engagement play in K-12 and higher education?

Public Agenda’s practical efforts to help leaders and citizens navigate divisive issues and work together on solutions have been profoundly informed by Dan’s thinking on democracy and public judgment. The Yankelovich Center ensures that these ideas continue to sharpen and evolve to meet the changing challenges of the day. More, the Center enables us to disseminate these ideas and share what we’re learning with others who wish to improve the quality of public life by contributing to a more citizen-centered politics.

We make all publications and resources developed through the Yankelovich Center available for download free of charge. If you are interested in donating to support the efforts of the Yankelovich Center, please visit our donation page.

We are able to launch the Yankelovich Center for Public Judgment thanks to the Kettering Foundation's generous commitment to a robust program of joint research through the Center. Major support for CAPE, the Yankelovich Centers’ precedent, was provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.



Yankelovich Center Publications


CLICK TO ENGAGE: USING KEYPADS TO ENHANCE DELIBERATION

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the use of keypads as part of well-constructed engagement and deliberation processes. We are particularly focused on the use of keypads to support deliberative forums and meetings tied to collaborative problem solving.

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AT PUBLIC AGENDA

Public Agenda employs engagement strategies and tools in such a way that they help citizens and communities tackle tough issues like improving education, managing sprawl or bettering police-community relations.


PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

A Primer from Public Agenda

In this document Public Agenda offers a brief summary of the essential elements of our evolving approach to public engagement.


REFRAMING "FRAMING"

What if we were to reframe framing to focus less on how it can help one side or another win the political game and more on what it means, and can mean, for strengthening the democratic process?


TRANSFORMING PUBLIC LIFE

A Decade of Citizen Engagement in Bridgeport, Connecticut

As a result of roughly a decade of hard work by organizations, "ordinary" citizens and various local leaders, public engagement has become embedded in the life of Bridgeport, CT.


PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND AMERICA'S GROWING LATINO POPULATION

Understanding the barriers to, and opportunities for, more empowered participation of Latino populations is a pressing need facing advocates of deliberative democracy.


BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND

A Call for Goal-Driven Deliberative Practice

Public Agenda teams up with Martín Carcasson from the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University to disseminate his latest thinking about the goals and consequences of public deliberation.


PROMISING PRACTICES IN ONLINE ENGAGEMENT

The fact that the Internet is one of the most powerful organizing tools in history is both thrilling and vexing to public engagement practitioners working to create the conditions for more effective public involvement in public life.


BEYOND DEBATE

Impacts of Deliberative Issue Framing on Group Dialogue and Problem Solving

The research summarized in this article was conducted in order to gain a deeper understanding of one key element of these proper conditions: framing issues for deliberation.


DEMOCRACY, GROWING UP

The Shifts That Reshaped Local Politics and Foreshadowed the 2008 Presidential Election

In this report, Matt Leighninger summarizes and updates his main arguments on the larger patterns in the many strands of the deliberative democracy movement that have been emerging in recent years.



New From Public Agenda

HELP US BUILD A DEMOCRACY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE

Public Agenda knows what it takes to fuel progress on critical issues.
We need your support to keep things moving!


Join the Community

Donate

Take Action