Profiles of Four Citizen Deliberations Involving Alberta Climate Dialogue

Lorelei L. Hanson


This chapter profiles the four citizen deliberation projects undertaken by ABCD between 2012-2014 to understand the development of each, with a particular focus on social learning outcomes that enabled collective agreement and action. The voices of citizens, as well as volunteer small group facilitators and note takers, are emphasized; the chapter integrates their experiences into the critical evaluation of each of the four ABCD deliberations.

Chapter Takeaways

  • Addressing the complexity of wicked issues like climate change requires new modes of management, governance and decision making that are anticipatory, adaptive and support social learning.
  • Social learning supports groups and individuals in acquiring factual knowledge, technical and social skills, changes in cognition and attitudes, and in developing trusting relationships directed at collective agreement and action.
  • With its focus on values, deliberation provides a public engagement process that helps people connect public policy issues to their own lives and aspirations, and understand the trade-offs required for collective problem solving.
  • Existing public policies, institutional designs and organizational cultures often impede citizen social learning processes rooted in the co-creation of knowledge; public deliberation offers tools and key insights so that we can begin to reframe our public systems and paradigms, and thus better address the daunting challenges of our times.

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ABCD’s experiences with public deliberation demonstrate that citizens are able and willing to act in the collective interest, and when enabled and supported, they can make important contributions in identifying both the nature of the problem and possible solutions.
— Lorelei L. Hanson