Developing Materials for Deliberative Forums
When citizens deliberate together about important issues, they can reach decisions and take action together on problems that confront them. Deliberation does not require a certain kind of guide, or framework, or language, or facilitator, but, because it can be difficult to face such choices, supporting materials can make it easier. In Developing Materials for Deliberative Forums, Brad Rourke explores the important elements involved in going from an initial topic to having a complete issue guide suitable to use in the kinds of deliberative forums that are the hallmark of the National Issues Forums (NIF). Rourke is a Kettering Foundation program officer and executive editor of the NIF issue books as well as other issue books produced for public deliberation.
An issue framework, or issue guide, is intended to support deliberation, as people wrestle with options, face trade-offs, and make decisions about how to act. This document describes one way of naming and framing issues for public deliberation with the aim of creating an issue guide that can be used by many kinds of people in deliberative public forums. According to Rourke, “writing an issue guide is just the tip of the iceberg. The earlier work that goes into naming and framing the issue—work that requires time and people—is most important.” This document clearly describes how this work can be accomplished. An appendix provides an annotated example of an issue framework.