Category Archives: deliberation

the Massachusetts Citizens Initiative Review

A Citizens Initiative Review is a very clever innovation. A randomly selected jury of citizens assesses a pending ballot initiative or referendum, deliberates, and produces an explanation (and in some versions, an opinion) of the measure that is disseminated to the voters … Continue reading

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tracking change in a group that discusses issues

Colleagues and I just ran a mini-experiment in which students at two very different universities held online discussions of the same controversial current issues. Before and after each discussion, we surveyed them to ascertain their social networks within their own … Continue reading

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assessing a discussion

We discuss in order to address public problems together. We also develop morally through discussion–which, by the way, I would define very broadly to encompass a conversation with your neighbor over the backyard fence, with Leopold Bloom in the pages … Continue reading

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pay-for-success in government

Let’s say you represent a program that would really save the government money as well as serving a social need. For instance, your program can cut the number of felonies, thereby saving $31,000 per person/per year in incarceration costs while … Continue reading

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Peter Railton on why meetings are essential

The American Philosophical Association’s John Dewey lectures are autobiographical remarks by senior philosophers who draw lessons from their whole lives as scholars and people–much in the spirit of Dewey. University of Michigan Professor Peter Railton exemplifies the genre with his … Continue reading

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a method for mapping discussions as networks

Two Quebecois scholars, François P. Robert and Pierre Mongeau, have developed a valuable method for modeling the “socio-semantic network” formed when people discuss an issue.* I can envision this method used to assess deliberations, to give real-time feedback to moderators … Continue reading

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diagramming Sarah Palin’s Iowa speech

Northeastern political scientist Nick Beauchamp has developed a remarkable, free tool (Plot Mapper) that identifies keywords in a stream of text and plots them on a two-dimensional plane. The words are placed automatically but meaningfully (using a form of principal … Continue reading

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Charlie Hebdo, American academia, and free speech

David Brooks begins today’s column: “The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university … Continue reading

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viewing concessions dampens rancor

In the Atlantic, Robert Wright describes research that my team at Tufts University conducted in partnership with him. He summarizes the research question: Suppose you’re a conservative or a liberal, and you’re watching a debate, and the debater you consider … Continue reading

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six varieties of politics

If “politics” means all interactions on public or common matters, here are six varieties of it. They overlap, yet no category is coterminous with any of the others: 1. Adversarial politics: The parties hold incompatible interests or goals, but some resolution must be reached. We can … Continue reading

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