Gateway to Real Democracy

Join the RSA’s Deliberation Gateway Network for an informal information session about how deliberative democracy can help governments and local councils solve community problems.

30 Mar 2023 | 3PM – 4PM PDT | 6PM – 7PM EDT

Learn more and register here!

The Deliberation Gateway community hosts informal online discussions to connect individuals with real world problems to experienced Citizen Assembly practitioners. In the long run, through a series of informal conversations we hope to identify opportunities for future citizen assemblies. We foster an environment of learning and support for those who are aware of the myriad problems in the world and are looking for a way in which they can contribute locally in their own communities to fix the bigger problems that face us all.


Participating in University Safety

Student protests aimed at defunding college/university police departments create a dichotomy for many administrations across the US. How can higher education institutions create safe environments for their communities, when the security system itself is considered a threat by those very people?

Long term, broad and deep participatory processes offer a potential route to finding a viable solution to this problem. However, such processes will only bear fruit if they are authentic and much more than lip service from administrative bodies designed to placate students.

Such participation processes must generate genuine transformation. Empowering entire communities to collectively re-imagine every aspect of their security infrastructure is a possible route to achieving such transformation successfully and peacefully. Whether we are talking about crime prevention—which can include improvements to support mental health services and creating employment or scholarship opportunities for local communities —all the way through to fire alarms and safe working practices in research laboratories, all of which may involve institutional police to some extent.

Deliberation Gateway is looking for expressions of interest from partners and/or participants to create a learning community for supporting the design of these kinds of complex participatory processes. We aim to nucleate a community that will meet periodically over the next year to help campus communities across the country explore participatory strategies specifically designed for US higher education to address this safety dichotomy.

We aim to provide a time efficient process in which participants will meet monthly and generate much of the content for each other. In the first instance we will explore the issue of safety and hear from participants what is happening in, and around, their campus communities. Thereafter, with support from the RSA, we will use our networks to find resources to support learning and exchange of best practice. We hope that institutions and individuals participating in our support community will gain a clear understanding of participatory processes that are truly effective. We will also offer long term follow up meetings to assess the outcome of any participatory processes that campuses employ.

Such participation is only likely to succeed on higher education campuses if it is long term. As a result these participatory processes could become permanent fixtures at universities, inculcating students and staff with a culture of participatory and deliberative values that could permeate into lectures as a useful learning mode, as well as into wider society as students and staff move through their universities into other commercial, academic, governmental and political organizations.

We would like to hear from any staff, faculty or student governments at any US institution that are interested in learning more about co-creating continuous participation exercises across their campuses aimed at developing local safety policies. Please contact the Deliberation Gateway directly to register interest. Please also sign up to our mailing list to get monthly updates and news from the DG community.”

Unlocking Deliberation

“Have you ever thought: “I never thought of that!”?

A collaboration of deliberation organizations from around the world is hosting a series of online training seminars called “Unlocking Deliberation” to help individuals and groups learn how to bring the wide range of modern deliberative techniques to bear on the collective problems that confront them. The first webinar of the series “Why Deliberate?” is taking place on Sunday, August 9th 2020 at 8pm ET, (5 pm PT).

On Tap, not on Top

Sat 21st December 2019, 12h00 EDT, Register

The next discussion in our series will be about the role of experts in deliberations.

In a deliberation we select diverse members of the public to make a judgment on behalf of everyone else. But let’s face it: a random member of the public is unlikely to know anywhere near enough about a given topic to make an informed policy choice—even though they themselves may think otherwise—and, by extension, we may ask why would an assembly of the public fare any better? 

Similarly, we expect elected officials to know better than a random member of the public but why should that be the case? It’s clear that every public deliberation, whether comprised of elected or randomly picked members, needs experts to provide detailed and up to date information.

Who chooses which experts to invite?

How do we ensure a deliberation is not unduly biased?

How do we avoid the experts taking over and using the CA to openwash their own technocratic agenda?

Why would an expert bother to get out of bed? Are they being paid?

In this discussion we will have a look at the role of experts in deliberations. Register here

Strategies for Engaging Power

A joint salon with RSA-US on Thursday 21st November, 12h00 to 13h00 CT. Register

Fed up of politicians not listening? In theory, we live in a democracy and thus power ultimately resides with citizens. But—once the ballot box is safely tucked away—it’s not easy for citizens to influence law makers, especially when the powerful have different ideas, or close their doors. Deliberations, such as citizen’s assemblies and deliberative polls, could be a potential solution to hold the powerful to account between elections, or, more charitably, to help politicians engage with the public more effectively during their term of office. On Thursday 21st November, Deliberation Gateway will join forces with RSA-US to discuss effective strategies for citizen organized deliberations to engage the powerful to ensure the judgment of the deliberation is heard and, where appropriate, upheld.

Under what conditions do powerful people listen to others and act?

What steps can organizers of a deliberation take to ensure the output is heard, and upheld?

Just as a corporation or union has power and influence, can deliberations acquire power?

Is it necessary to have powerful people in a deliberation for it to have power?

Can deliberations affect the behavior of uncooperative but powerful individuals and groups?


Third Saturdays

Just to say that from now on our monthly meetings will be held on the third Saturday of every month at 12h00 EDT. Occasionally we will have Thursday lunchtime meetings in conjunction with RSA Salons instead, to give others a chance to join in, which will happen next month on November 19th in place of the regular meeting. Watch this space…

What unmet needs are met by deliberation?

Quarterly Online Conversation: July 27th, 12 pm to 1 pm EDT. Register here

How do you build communities? How can we re-connect across cities and states when it seems that we are all so hostile to strangers and those with other beliefs? How can politicians effectively engage with millions of citizens and make sure they are faithfully representing their constituents? How can cities, states and other civic bureaucracies maintain connections with hundreds of organizations and be sure that citizens are receiving effective municipal services? How can citizens ensure that taxes are directly channeled into beneficial avenues?

On Saturday 27th July at mid-day EDT, the Deliberation Gateway will draw together a group of individuals from across the U.S. to consider which of society’s unmet needs deliberative democracy could deliver.

Note: This event is the re-scheduled discussion from the 22nd June.

When is deliberation useful?

23rd March 2019, 11h00 to 12h00, CT

In our first quarterly session we will ask some simple questions about why you might want to put on a deliberation and how useful it could be. We will introduce ourselves and discuss the following questions:

What kind of deliberations are there?
What role can deliberations play in modern society?
When is it appropriate to hold a deliberation?

To register sign up here.

The Deliberation Gateway

The Deliberation Gateway—a thematic network of the RSA-US organized by RSA fellows—is open!

Our goal is to introduce people from every corner of U.S. society to the idea of deliberation. Our main activity will be to host quarterly online discussions on topics related to deliberation for anyone in the U.S. ( and beyond!) who is interested.

You can look forward to meeting other curious individuals and find connections to more experienced practitioners, as well as links to further initiatives, introductory literature and links to more specialized material.

We hope to foster an environment of learning and support for those who are aware of the myriad problems in the world, and are looking for a way in which they can contribute locally in their own communities to fix the bigger problems that face us all.

The future of democracy awaits your arrival!

Deliberation Gateway is a thematic network of the RSA-US organized by RSA fellows