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Sounder Public Judgment Working Paper Series

October 7, 2019

Sounder Public Judgment Working Paper Series

A new series of Working Papers from Public Agenda offers insights into how to help the public come to terms with tough issues in today’s world

Public Agenda, the nonpartisan research and public engagement organization, is releasing a series of papers on the challenge of fostering sounder judgment despite the challenges of today’s digital and divisive world. The papers draw on the thinking of leading researchers and practitioners in the fields of communications, public opinion, public engagement, digital technology, and social change.

In this time of endemic mistrust, fake news, extreme rhetoric and technology-enhanced manipulation of public opinion, it is increasingly difficult for the public to come to terms with issues in meaningful ways. Public Agenda’s Sounder Public Judgment Working Paper Series offers an insightful look at this profound challenge facing our democracy, and explores potential solutions.

The papers will be published weekly, with the first three papers released on Oct. 23, 2019:

  • The Problem of Public Judgment in a Digital and Divisive Age, by Public Agenda President Will Friedman. It provides an overview of the issue and makes the argument for the series.  
  • The Role of Social Movements in Fostering Sounder Public Judgment, by Peter Levine of Tufts University. It delves into a relatively untapped topic that deserves much more attention considering the growing importance of movement politics today.
  • Meaningful Inefficiencies: Public Judgment About Novel Technologies Through Play and Ambiguity by Eric Gordon of Emerson University. It explores how communities can navigate novel changes in public life and decision making.

The next release, on Oct. 30, will include:

  • Communications for Sounder Public Judgment in a Complex World: A Roundtable Conversation with Martín Carcasson, Will Friedman, Alan Jenkins, Míriam Juan-Torres and john a. powell.
  • Imagining the Robust Deliberative City: Elevating the Conversations We Need to Support Democracy, by Martín Carcasson of Colorado State University.

Over the next year, future releases will examine the potential for artificial intelligence to enhance, rather than undermine, wiser public judgment on social media, and explore how public opinion research may inform the discussion of this topic.

The Series is supported by a lead grant from the Ford Foundation, and additional funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Rita Allen Foundation.

 

 

The Problem of Public Judgment in a Digital and Divisive Age examines Dan Yankelovich’s original concept of public judgment, its relevance to the challenges facing democracy today, new thinking that enriches the concept, and potential directions for its further development and more powerful application.

Author

Will Friedman, Ph.D., Public Agenda president

Dr. Friedman has overseen Public Agenda’s steady and expanding stream of work aimed at helping communities and states build capacity to tackle tough issues in more inclusive, deliberative and collaborative ways. In 2007, he established Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement (now the Yankelovich Center at Public Agenda), which conducts action research to assess impacts and improve practice.

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@wkfriedman

 

Learn more about Dr. Friedman.

The Role of Social Movements in Fostering Sounder Public Judgment explores the important role social movements can play in helping society come to sounder public judgment and how to help them do so.

Author

Peter Levine, associate dean and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Civic Engagement in the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University

Peter Levine is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life. He also appointments in the Tufts Philosophy Department, Political Science Department, and the Tufts Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. He was the founding deputy director (2001-2006) and then the second director (2006-2015) of Tisch College’s CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. In addition, Levine co-leads the Civic Studies major, teaches the Summer Institute of Civic Studies, and organizes the annual Frontiers of Democracy conference.

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Learn more about Mr. Levine.

Meaningful Inefficiencies: Public Judgment About Novel Technologies Through Play and Ambiguity examines the importance of slowing down decision making and creating space for ambiguity in helping communities engage complex and novel change, such as the application of new technologies in public life.

Author

Eric Gordon, Professor and Director, Engagement Lab at Emerson College

Eric Gordon is a professor of civic media and the director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson College in Boston. His research focuses on the transformation of public life and governance in digital culture, and the incorporation of play into collaborative design processes. He has served as an expert advisor for local and national governments, as well as NGOs around the world, designing responsive processes that encourage play, delight, and deliberation. He has created over a dozen games for public sector use and advised organizations on how to build their own inclusive and meaningful processes.

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Learn more about Mr. Gordon.

Imagining the Robust Deliberative City: Elevating the Conversations We Need to Support Democracy offers a forceful argument that our best shot at fostering public judgment and reinvigorating democracy today is to focus on creating strong systems of public deliberation, engagement and participation in the towns and cities where people live their lives and learn to become citizens.

Author

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., Professor of communications at Colorado State University, and founder/director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., is a professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD). Carcasson also currently served as the chair of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation Board of Directors. His research focuses on helping local communities address “wicked problems” more productively through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. The CPD is a practical, applied extension of his work, and functions as an impartial resource dedicated to enhancing local democracy in Northern Colorado.

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Learn more about the CSU Center for Public Deliberation.

Communications for Sounder Public Judgment in a Complex World: A Roundtable Conversation, brings together reflections from a cross-section of thinkers and practitioners at the forefront of communications, public opinion, public engagement, and social change on the challenges of achieving public judgment in our rapidly changing, increasingly diverse world.

Authors

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., Professor of communications at Colorado State University, and founder/director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., is a professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD). Carcasson also currently served as the chair of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation Board of Directors. His research focuses on helping local communities address “wicked problems” more productively through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. The CPD is a practical, applied extension of his work, and functions as an impartial resource dedicated to enhancing local democracy in Northern Colorado.Image result for twitter icon@mcarcasson • Learn more about the CSU Center for Public Deliberation.

 

Will Friedman, Ph.D., Public Agenda president

Dr. Friedman has overseen Public Agenda’s steady and expanding stream of work aimed at helping communities and states build capacity to tackle tough issues in more inclusive, deliberative and collaborative ways. In 2007, he established Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement (now the Yankelovich Center at Public Agenda), which conducts action research to assess impacts and improve practice.

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@wkfriedman Learn more about Dr. Friedman.

 

Alan Jenkins, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School

Alan Jenkins has recently joined the faculty of Harvard Law as a professor of practice, teaching courses on race and the law, communications and social change and social justice. Previously, he was president and cofounder of The Opportunity Agenda, a social justice communication laboratory dedicated to the idea that our nation can and should be a place where everyone enjoys full and equal opportunity. Alan has also served as Director of Human Rights at the Ford Foundation; Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he represented the United States government in constitutional and other litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court; and Associate Counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Image result for twitter icon@Opportunity1 Learn more about Mr. Jenkins.

 

Míriam Juan-Torres, Multidisciplinary researcher at More in Common

Míriam Juan-Torres is a multidisciplinary researcher at More in Common, where her work draws on a variety of disciplines, including law, political science, economics and anthropology.  Her aim is to bridge the gaps among academic findings, policy and implementation, applying research insights to designing real-world solutions to complex challenges. Míriam is particularly interested in the ways in which psychological vulnerabilities and cognitive biases are targeted to produce behavioral change, and how they translate into political action. She is also interested in exploring how social justice—and, particularly, gender equality— can be advanced through artistic expression. Previously, Míriam worked in Ghana, where she conducted research on peace processes and mechanisms implemented to prevent election-related violence, and she has been a consultant to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia

Image result for twitter icon@miriamjtg Learn more about Ms. Juan-Torres.

 

john a. powell, Internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty and democracy

john is the director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.  john also holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and he has written extensively on structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. john is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

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@profjohnapowell Learn more about Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.