As a pioneer and intellectual leader in the field of public opinion research, the social scientist Daniel Yankelovich drew 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:
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.
This report from the Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on hidden or otherwise underappreciated common ground in the realm of criminal justice reform, specifically with respect to incarceration. The Hidden Common Ground Initiative aspires to tell the story of what unites us by way of concrete, actionable solutions that can make a difference in people’s lives and the fate of their communities—and eventually, perhaps, in our national politics as well.
This report from the Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on hidden or otherwise underappreciated common ground in health care. How do people talk across party lines about the problems facing our health care system? What do people think should be done to make progress? The Hidden Common Ground Initiative aspires to tell the story of what unites us by way of concrete, actionable solutions that can make a difference in people’s lives and the fate of their communities—and eventually, perhaps, in our national politics as well.
Public Agenda spent the past year talking with folks from small and large cities, including San Diego, Cincinnati, the greater metro area of New York and numerous points in between.
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?
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.
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.
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.
In this document Public Agenda offers a brief summary of the essential elements of our evolving approach to public engagement.
Understanding the barriers to, and opportunities for, more empowered participation of Latino populations is a pressing need facing advocates of deliberative democracy.
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.
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.
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.