Looking Beyond Our Recent Past

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Democratic theory, in the words of John Dryzek, took a “strong deliberative turn” in the 1990s (p. 1). What has emerged since that time has been a robust scholarly discussion about deliberative democracy and its theoretical dimensions, as well as the development and recognition of a field of practice that continues to develop. Scholars and practitioners have helped to create robust professional organizations such as the National Issues Forums Institute and National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, as well as an academic journal—the Journal of Public Deliberation—that provide space to think critically about this burgeoning domain. These opportunities, among many others, enable the field of public deliberation to continue to grow in practical and intellectual ways, contributing to what Caroline W. Lee in Do-It-Yourself Democracy identifies as the “public engagement industry.” Others, such as Peter Levine, have integrated public deliberation into a broader approach to civic life referred to in academic circles as civic studies. In his book, We Are the One’s We Have Been Waiting For, Levine noted the importance of opportunities to understand factual information about issues, to wrestle with diverse values, and to formulate strategies for cultivating a sense of shared, public life by asking all citizens to consider the question, What should you and I do?

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Looking Beyond Our Recent Past

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