Welcome to the September issue of our research newsletter.

In this issue, we revisit our largest ever project in the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Cycle Engagement Jury. We look at what worked well, what didn't work, and look to areas of improvement for taking citizens' juries into the future. This is a must read for those interested in any perceived limits to citizen juries and the paths we see around difficulties.

Recently, I visited Timor-Leste to participate in a roundtable where democratic innovation was discussed; it was convened by the Club de Madrid. This roundtable included former prime ministers and presidents: Jose Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste), Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Indonesia), Jenny Shipley (New Zealand), and Jigmi Yoezer Thinley (Bhutan).

A big surprise was news from Mongolia — that a randomly-selected group of citizens recently met to assess the president’s performance, and Mongolia has a requirement that any constitutional change should be determined using a Deliberative Poll.  I was able to report on newDemocracy’s activities as well as democratic innovations worldwide.
I took up this theme again, that of worldwide democratic innovations, at the Engage 2 Act conference in Melbourne. The speaking notes are available on request if this topic interests you — just contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are often asked about opportunities for formal learning about deliberation. With that in mind, our Brisbane readers may be interested in a workshop I will be leading in November. The masterclass in deliberative democracy will explore the principles of deliberative democracy and help develops the skills needed to design and implement effective citizen engagement and deliberation activities.

As usual, this issue features a wrap up of our R&D Note publications, covering topics ranging from the numbers behind jury selection and their relationship to representation, to the comparative ability of a group of diverse participants with a group of experts.

Finally, a reminder to join our new Facebook group, The Demos, where you're invited to contribute to discussion on all things newDemocracy, deliberation, politics and democracy more broadly.

Lyn Carson,
Research Director

Participants at the democracy roundtable convened by Club de Madrid in Timor-Leste, featuring ex-Presidents and Prime Ministers Jose Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste), Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Indonesia), Jenny Shipley (New Zealand), and Jigmi Yoezer Thinley (Bhutan), and our Research Director Lyn Carson.

Learnings from South Australia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle Jury

In 2016, newDemocracy had oversight of a massive public deliberation in South Australia on the extremely contentious issue of nuclear waste storage. It was our biggest project to date. Any journey into the unknown is a rich site for learning, and this project was no exception. Given newDemocracy’s commitment to an action-learning approach, what did we learn from this bold experiment?

We've reviewed the project and documented our learnings from the ins and outs of the process we oversaw. You can find our learnings in our most recent R&D Note published here. This helps other professionals and practitioners build on the lessons learned in a major real world situation.

These reflections and more are part of newDemocracy’s commitment to reflect on practice in the company of others who share a commitment to good practice, and this includes the many randomly-selected citizens who have participated in public deliberations.
This research note is one way to offer insight into the challenges we encountered in a particular project as well as an admission of sometimes flawed, but well-meaning, decisions that were made along the way.

The Journal of Public Deliberation

We've covered the work of The Journal of Public Deliberation, and newDemocracy's role as a principle funding contributor for the Journal, in a previous issue of the research newsletter. This time we're proud to share that the Journal will be publishing a special issue on Deliberative Democracy in an Era of Rising Global Authoritarianism.

Some questions the special issue seeks to answer include:

  • What evidence supports the proposition that authoritarian forces are on the rise globally?

  • How is the current political situation impacted by pluralism, cultural disagreements, claims of fake news, increasing distrust of institutions, and other factors?

  • How should deliberation scholars and practitioners respond to these political times and contexts?

Join the email announcements list for the Journal to stay across their latest content at the leading edge of research in deliberation.

Jurors at the Yarra Valley Water Citizens' Jury.

Engaging the People in Policy Making: A Masterclass

In November, Research Director Lyn Carson will be holding a workshop in deliberative democracy. You register for the event here. The workshop will run all day on November 9th in Brisbane, tickets starting from $445.

The workshop will explore the principles of deliberative democracy and develop the skills needed to design and implement effective citizen engagement and deliberation activities.

Through case studies, conversation and practical activities, this workshop will help you to:

  • Build skills and knowledge about ways to design and implement deliberative processes

  • Focus on situations when deliberative processes are appropriate

  • Consider the difference between deliberative democracy and other forms of community engagement

  • Examine the practicalities of deliberative processes, including choosing expert speakers, using random selection, building participants’ critical capacity, and supporting meaningful deliberation

  • Develop skills in facilitating, listening and responding to groups of citizens.

This workshop is designed for people who are interested in community engagement and public participation – including planners, urban designers, consultants, facilitators, change agents, community development practitioners, policy makers and government staff.

The Democracy R&D International Partnership

The newDemocracy Foundation is a Founding Partner of Democracy R&D – an international alliance of nonpartisan NGOs, research institutes, and consultancies. We are now 14 organisations in 11 countries: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America. With ambitions to have one from Japan and add another from the USA next month.

We have one shared active project proposal. Its purpose is to work with parliaments/legislatures in different countries (and the European Union) to convene samples of the public to review, deliberate, and recommend measures to improve democracy and increase trust in parliament. The model is similar to the Geelong Citizens' Jury overseen by newDemocracy in Australia and the Minnesota Community Assembly project in the USA, but at a national level, or state level in some countries, or supra-national level (the European Union). 

Our Portuguese partner, Forum dos Cidadãos, has already received a strong letter of support from their country’s president. Our German partner, the Nexus Institute, is already at work on a similar project at the national level in Germany, the “Citizens’ Report on Democracy.” Our group is working on a proposal to be used in conversations with members of the European Parliament. 

R&D Notes

newDemocracy has continued to publish R&D Notes, exploring different aspects of deliberation and citizen juries.

Recently, Gil Delannoi from the Centre for Political Research at Sciences Po University in Paris, and Lyn Carson, newDemocracy's Research Director, co-authored a R&D Note titled 'French Presidential Election and Sortition'. It surveys the times sortition popped up during the French Presidential Election.

This note is a must read for those interested in understanding different ways in which deliberation or deliberative methods can be used to resolve the pervading tension following a breakdown of trust between government and the people.

As mentioned before, we've just released a R&D Note on our learnings from South Australia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle Engagement Jury.

Drawing on a range of projects and our learnings from them, we've also published new R&D Notes including: Budgeting by JurySample-sizing for mini-publicsImportance of FacilitationBenefits of the Jury Model, and Group Diversity Trumps Individual Ability.

The Demos

newDemocracy keeps across the latest in democratic theory and deliberative democracy literature. We've created a new Facebook group, The Demos, to provide a space for you to join in on this. It's a space for meeting up and sharing research and ideas, as well as a space for action. We're focused on spreading the ethos of newDemocracy and this group is a productive space for sharing ideas and success.

It will work best with lots of activity and contributions, so come join in on the discussion.


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