Deliberative Forum

Deliberative forums are a space in which an issue or problem is introduced in a manner that prompts thoughtful consideration and discussion so that a consensus may be achieved around the steps, approaches, or options available for its resolution.

Problems and Purpose

Deliberative forums create a space for affected parties to discuss an issue or problem in a constructive manner. The naming and framing of the issue must be done in such as way as to prompt thoughtful consideration and discussion. The narrowing of the issue to a specific concern allows participants to weigh the pros and cons associated with practical solutions or plans of action. Ideally, a consensus is reached on the best or 'most agreeable' option. 

Origins and Development

Participant Recruitment and Selection

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

Deliberative forums start by "framing the issue so the public can discuss it, convening the process with diverse stakeholders, and having skilled moderators to manage the tensions and conflict that may arise."

Steps include:

"First, the issue must be ‘named’ or identified. For example, it is not sufficient for people to say they want to come together to talk about crime. What is it about crime that concerns them — lack of police enforcement? Adults committing crimes? Kids committing crimes?

[Second,] framing an issue lays out a ‘schematic’ that will encourage members of the public to consider and discuss it (Kettering Foundation 2002). The framing involves creating different ‘approaches’ or ‘options’ to resolving the problem or other methods that serve to prompt deliberation. One frequently used method to frame an issue is bringing stakeholders together to explore how they see the problem and what resolutions might need to be considered. However, this is not always possible. Cost, time and scale may impact naming and framing an issue."[1]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also



[1] Zelma Bone, Judith Crockett and Sandra Hodge: Deliberation forums: a pathway for public participation.

External Links

Fischer, M., and Leifeld, P. (2015) Policy forums: Why do they exist and what are they used for? Policy Sciences, 48(3), pp. 363-382.

David Mathews Center - Incorporating the Deliberative Forum in the Classroom