The Book

Public Deliberation on Climate Change: Lessons from Alberta Climate Dialogue

There is growing interest in academic and political circles in public deliberation as an alternative to more conventional forms of public engagement, which can be adversarial and polarizing, and can pit experts against lay people. Public deliberation involves participants in ways that balance expert knowledge and citizen voices, and holds particular promise in the face of complex and intractable issues like climate change.

The experience and knowledge shared by Hanson and the contributors to Public Deliberation on Climate Change provide frameworks for advancing public conversations and policy processes on this and other wicked problems. The volume shares learning from a five year, multidisciplinary, community-university research project called Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD), which drew together scholars, practitioners, citizens, civil society members, and government officials from Alberta and beyond, holding four public deliberations between 2012-2014. The contributors highlight value tensions and trade-offs, and explore how the design of public deliberations influence conditions for dialogue and policy creation. The volume aims to build institutional and social capacity to discuss and address our most complex social problems.


Clicking through to each chapter (below) enables you to download a pdf of the chapter and also to see 'Chapter Takeaways'  and related resources.

Or you can simply download the entire book (pdf).

Introduction - Alberta Climate Dialogue: Advancing Public Deliberation on Climate Change and Other Wicked Problems

Lorelei L. Hanson and David Kahane

Outlines the work of the Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD) convening and studying new forms of public decision-making that address the “super wicked problem” of climate change. Offers an overview of case studies and theoretical issues.

Chapter Two - Profiles of Four Citizen Deliberations Involving ABCD

Lorelei L. Hanson

Profiles the development of the four citizen deliberation projects undertaken by ABCD between 2012-2014  with a particular focus on social learning outcomes enabling collective agreement and action.


Chapter Three - Public Deliberation with Climate Change: Theory, Practice and Lessons Learned from ABCD

David Kahane and Gwendolyn Blue

Delves into the theory of public deliberation to identify key debates within deliberative democracy theory and practice; evaluates and highlights how these played out in ABCD.

Chapter Four - The Economic and Political Context of Public Deliberation on Climate Policy in Alberta

Geoff Salomons and John Parkins

Puts ABCD in political and economic context, arguing that municipal government may have been more willing to undertake deliberative citizen involvement in a place like Alberta despite resistance from provincial counterparts.  


Chapter Five - Beyond the Usual Suspects: Representation in ABCD's Deliberative Exercises

Shelley Boulianne

Grapples with issues of representativeness and inclusivity in developing public deliberation. Discusses the recruitment practices of the four ABCD deliberations, showing the challenges and trade-offs of different strategies. 

Chapter Six - From Facts to Frames: Examining the Dominant and Alternative Meanings of Climate Change in Public Deliberation Initiatives

Gwendolyn Blue

Focuses on the importance of presenting a diverse array of frames in climate deliberations rather than defaulting to the perspectives of privileged social actors. 


Chapter Seven - Collaborating on Deliberative Democracy: Learning Together on Wicked Issues in ABCD

David Kahane and Lorelei L. Hanson

Emphasizes the necessity of collaboration in deliberation projects, evaluates collaboration in ABCD, and offers guidance for effective collaboration in public deliberation projects.

Chapter Eight - On the Ground: Practitioners' Reflections on ABCD's Citizen Deliberations

Mary Pat MacKinnon, Jacquie Dale and Susanna Haas Lyons

Offers the perspectives of three deliberation professionals in ABCD on issue framing, planning for deliberative mini-publics, and enabling meaningful citizen deliberation.


Chapter Nine - Climate Change, Social Change, and Systems Change: Lessons from ABCD

David Kahane

Considers potential limitations of deliberative democracy in addressing systemically complex issues like climate change, and considers how deliberative democracy might be complemented by  tools and methods from systems thinking, user-centred design, and systemic design. 

Conclusion - "Better Informed and Increasingly Demanding": The Potential of Deliberation to Tap the Power of Citizens to Address Climate Change

Tom Prugh and Matt Leighninger

Looks back over themes and observations from the book and points towards future possibilities for how citizen deliberation can address climate change and sustainability in Alberta and the world.