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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

GET INVOLVED: Civic Discourse

One of the most fundamental rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy is civic discourse.  "Civic" refers to public participation and/or public topic (as in "public meeting" or "public affairs") and "discourse" means conversation, or discussion. In anti-democratic regimes, members of the public are discouraged from participating in discussion of topics that the government presumes they have no power to deliberate, much less decide upon.  Where power is distributed across the public, the topics and opportunities for decision-making are less restricted.  Yet participation in public conversation can be rare, even among citizens of societies that claim to be democracies.  Discussion "in public" involves exposure to a greater diversity of opinions and experiences than one encounters among family and friends.  Why does ICDD promote this?

In answering this question, theorists and practitioners of participatory democracy argue for more shared decision-making and improved mutual understanding.  The  experience of listening to other voices and contributing one's own to a public issue is a foundation of democratic engagement.  Participation in civic discourse can increase discovery, enlarge the array of policy choices, and offer a foundation for collaborative problem-solving.

ICDD works to improve the quality and quantity of public conversation, with assistance from skilled facilitators and planning by volunteer convening teams that take responsibility for organizing the event(s) and following through with its outcomes.  We encourage you to explore the many ways that you can get involved, and to contact us for more information on these opportunities:

Participate in a public conversation

Facilitate a public conversation

Join a convening team