Postgraduate Course: Public Engagement in Policymaking and Governance (PGSP11450)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Involving citizens and stakeholders has become a central dimension of contemporary governance and policymaking. From traditional public consultations to cutting-edge democratic innovations, and from local to transnational contexts, the field of public engagement is redefining the relationship between institutions, organisations and their publics. This course will provide students with a critical understanding of public engagement in theory and practice, including the development of practical skills in process design, communication, leadership, facilitation and conflict mediation. As a result, students will be prepared for the analytical and practical challenges of public engagement in a range of contexts, institutions and organisations.
Involving citizens and stakeholders has become a central dimension of contemporary governance and policymaking. From traditional public consultations to cutting-edge democratic innovations, and from local to transnational contexts, the field of public engagement is redefining the relationship between institutions and their publics.
This course will provide students with a critical understanding of public engagement in theory and practice, including the development of practical skills in process design, communication, leadership, facilitation and conflict mediation. As a result, students will be prepared for the analytical and practical challenges of public engagement in a range of contexts, institutions and organisations.
The course will examine academic and practitioner literature in order to explore the politics of facilitating dialogue, deliberation, consensus building, and co-production. It will also look at ethical and power dimensions, as well as strategies that engagement practitioners use to manage emerging challenges and dilemmas. There will be particular attention to current democratic innovations from around the world, including participatory budgeting, deliberative mini-publics, stakeholder partnerships and digital crowdsourcing.
Outline content (by week):
1. Public engagement in policymaking and governance: Introduction to the field
2. Engagement work: Practitioners in action
3. Planning engagement processes: Strategic thinking and political know-how
4. Communication in practice: Dialogic and deliberative approaches
5. The craft of facilitation: Micro-politics of mediation
6. Facilitation skills, tools and techniques: A repertoire for engagement
7. Designing forums: Micro-politics of interaction
8. From engagement to decision-making: Developing processes that are meaningful and consequential
9. Engagement cultures and leadership: Political work in context
10. Bringing it all together: Becoming reflective practitioners
The course will be delivered using a combination of seminars, case studies, practical exercises and group interviews with policymakers and practitioners (e.g. public engagement officials, Bill managers, democratic innovators, community organisers) from a range of policy areas, and across the public and civic sectors.
There will be ten weekly three-hour sessions, typically with the following structure:
- one hour lecturer-led,
- one hour student-led and drawing on case studies and practical exercises,
- and the third hour featuring guest practitioners (in at least 4 weeks).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Assignment 1- (50%) Observation and reflective writing (2,000 words). Students will observe one policy forum/event/meeting and reflect on process design, participant interaction and communication dynamics, with special attention to facilitation work. Observations and reflections must be clearly related to the literature and contents of the course, which should be appropriately referenced. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of the practical and ethical dilemmas of designing and facilitating a policy forum as analysed during the course. Students can choose any type of forum in any policy area, but must discuss their choice with the course organiser by Week 5. The course organiser will offer examples of policy-related networks where students may check for upcoming events.
Assignment 2- (50%) Engagement Plan (2,000 words). Students will prepare an Engagement Plan for a policy organisation of their choice (e.g. government agency or department; NGO, etc). The Plan must estipulate why, when and how relevant publics and stakeholders may be involved in a particular policy-making process driven by the organisation chosen by the students. The Plan may refer to a current or future policy-making process, and will take the form of a proposal for decision-makers at that organisation. Accordingly, the Plan must include key dimensions and tools explored during the course (i.e. aims and objectives, public/stakeholders mapping, communication channels, timelines, forum formats, facilitation, approaches, etc.) The Plan must clearly and creatively link the students' analysis of their chosen policy context with the engagement strategies deployed to involve a range of relevant publics and/or stakeholders.
||Advice and feedback on plans for both assignments will be given by the course convener on weeks 5, 7 and 10, when the students will present outlines of their work in class. This will also enable peer learning and feedback, which will help students to refine their work before submission. Ongoing personalised advice and feedback will also be provided by appointment.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Draw on research insights from political science, policy analysis and communication studies, to develop critical understanding of engagement work in the context of participatory governance and deliberative policymaking.
- Demonstrate in-depth and applied knowledge about public and stakeholder engagement, and the strategies that can be used to facilitate participation in a variety of policy arenas and processes.
- Demonstrate understanding of interaction in policy forums, including the ability to enable groups to identify common ground and deal with difference and conflict in productive and creative ways.
- Design, facilitate and evaluate engagement processes and forums by using a range of facilitation tools, participatory techniques and deliberative formats.
- Develop the mindset and basic skills needed for reflective practice, with special attention to understanding and addressing emerging ethical dilemmas in engagement work and democratic innovation.
|The following books are key references for the course, and students are expected to read the top five titles, as well as the weekly mandatory papers specified in the Course Handbook (which also contains an extended bibliography organised thematically).|
- Acland, A. (2012) Dialogue by design. A handbook of public and stakeholder engagement. Surrey: Dialogue by Design. Available online http://www.dialoguebydesign.net/resources/handbook.htm
- Barber, B. R. (2003) Strong democracy: Participatory politics for a new age, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Escobar, O. (2011) Public dialogue and deliberation: A communication perspective for public engagement practitioners, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Beltane. Available online: http://www.beltanenetwork.org/resources/beltane-publications.
- Innes, J. E. & Booher, D. E. (2010) Planning with complexity: An introduction to collaborative rationality for public policy, Abingdon; New York: Routledge.
- Smith, G. (2009) Democratic innovations: Designing institutions for citizen participation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Barnes, M., Newman, J. and Sullivan, H. (2007) Power, participation and political renewal: Case studies in public participation, Bristol: The Policy Press.
- Castells, M. (2012) Networks of outrage and hope, Cambridge: Polity Press.
- Chappell, Z. (2012) Deliberative democracy: A critical introduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Cornwall, A. (Ed.) (2011) The participation reader, London: Zed Books.
- della Porta, D. (2013) Can democracy be saved? Participation, deliberation and social movements, Cambridge: Polity Press.
- De Souza Briggs, X. (2008) Democracy as problem solving. Civic capacity in communities across the globe, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
- Dryzek, J. S. (2002) Deliberative democracy and beyond liberals, critics, contestations, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Elstub, S. and McLaverty, P. (Eds.) (2014) Deliberative democracy: Issues and cases, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
- Fischer, F. (2000) Citizens, experts, and the environment: The politics of local knowledge, Durham; London: Duke University Press.
- Fishkin, J.S. (2011) When the people speak: Deliberative democracy and public consultation, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Forester, J. (2009) Dealing with differences: dramas of mediating public disputes, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Gastil, J. & Levine, P. (2005) The deliberative democracy handbook: Strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Lee, C. W., McQuarrie, M. and Walker, E. T. (Eds.) (2015) Democratizing inequalities: Dilemmas of the new public participation, New York: New York University Press.
- Nabatchi, T., Gastil, J., Weiksner, G. M. and Leighninger, M. (Eds.) (2012) Democracy in motion: Evaluating the practice and impact of deliberative civic engagement, New York: Oxford University Press.
- Nabatchi, T. and Leighninger, M. (2015) Public participation for 21st century democracy, Hoboken: Jossey-Bass.
- Smith, G. (2005) Beyond the ballot. 57 Democratic innovations from around the world, London: The POWER Inquiry.
- Young, I. M. (2000) Inclusion and democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Oliver Escobar
|Course secretary||Mrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456