New Resources Share Global Practices with Power to Strengthen Democracy in the U.S.

March 22, 2022

The series, which includes 15 case studies and the new Participatory Governance Index assessment tool, provides leaders, scholars, and pro-democracy advocates new insights into how promising global practices can strengthen democracy in the United States.

Public Agenda is thrilled to announce the publication of a series of reports, guides, and tools emerging from Healthier Democracies, an initiative working to strengthen American democracy by sharing promising practices from around the world.

Born out of the interest to understand how innovative forms of government-led participation, deliberation, and engagement  can have a positive impact on the health of communities and democracies worldwide, researchers have identified and analyzed global case studies of community engagement to offer actionable recommendations for American public officials. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthier Democracies lays out a path to equitable, deliberative, and collaborative relationships between governments and the communities they serve.

“The Healthier Democracies project represents findings from studying some of the best engagement infrastructure the world has to offer,” said Parisa Parsa, who leads the Healthier Democracies research team. “By learning from a variety of innovative countries and contexts, we can strengthen our own institutions in the United States to make our democracy more inclusive and responsive to the growing challenges of the 21st century.”

Public Agenda has released 15 case studies—documenting 10 local government innovations and 5 regional changes—as well as a brand new tool to assess democratic health, the Participatory Governance Index (PGI). Each of the 15 reports details key insights and findings from a unique global case study, with a full breakdown of learning and insights. The PGI represents the culmination of this knowledge—the index and its accompanying user guide and reflection questions provide a set of criteria and evaluation indicators that leaders, lawmakers, and community representatives can use to assess the health and robustness of participatory engagement with their own governments and institutions.

“Global democracy has seen a worrying decline since the advent of the 21st century,” said Andrew Seligsohn, Public Agenda’s President. “The horrific and unjust war being waged by Russia against Ukraine is the absolute negation of democracy, a system grounded in the peaceful resolution of disagreement and conflict. Against that backdrop, providing communities with the tools to live up to their own democratic commitments is essential, even as the human suffering in Ukraine reminds us that there is so much more work to do.”

Public Agenda offers special thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Healthier Democracies global research team, and the Healthier Democracies Advisory Board for their ongoing commitment to this unique project. The 15 case studies can be found here, and the PGI, as well as its user guide, can be found here. For our webinar series on global learning, visit here. Additional resources for public engagement can be found through our partnership course with Apolitical here or in our Reports & Resources archive here.