Citizen Self Government 

The  Citizen Commission creates an organizing framework for a citizen-oriented approach to the challenges facing us in the body politic of the United States and more broadly globally. The citizen commission  is a framework to enhance citizen participation and engagement in the political ecosystem. The commission  offers a dynamic, interactive, collaborative process that engages our fellow citizens to address the COVID-19 related challenges confronting us as individuals, members of our community, and citizens of the nation and the world. It provides a vehicle for citizens to collaborate, identify, analyze, develop, implement, and monitor a solution-based “treatment plan” for medical problems. The various phases of the citizen commission  will be presented over a period of weeks and ongoing discussion will be encouraged. Short and long term goals and plans will be developed and monitored. The experience with the COVID-19 citizen commission  will inform efforts to address other challenges facing the public and build a framework for more general and ongoing conversations. 


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Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions

Catching the Deliberative Wave

Public authorities from all levels of government increasingly turn to Citizens' Assemblies, Juries, Panels and other representative deliberative processes to tackle complex policy problems ranging from climate change to infrastructure investment decisions. They convene groups of people representing a wide cross-section of society for at least one full day – and often much longer – to learn, deliberate, and develop collective recommendations that consider the complexities and compromises required for solving multifaceted public issues. This "deliberative wave" has been building since the 1980s, gaining momentum since around 2010. This report has gathered close to 300 representative deliberative practices to explore trends in such processes, identify different models, and analyse the trade-offs among different design choices as well as the benefits and limits of public deliberation. It includes Good Practice Principles for Deliberative Processes for Public Decision Making, based on comparative empirical evidence gathered by the OECD and in collaboration with leading practitioners from government, civil society, and academics. Finally, the report explores the reasons and routes for embedding deliberative activities into public institutions to give citizens a more permanent and meaningful role in shaping the policies affecting their lives.

2020 Oregon Citizen Assembly Pilot on COVID-19 Recovery

Beginning in July, 40 voters from across Oregon will work together to help chart a path beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past several months, Oregonians made great sacrifices – from personal safety to economic security – to protect our neighbors. Now, as the state considers some of its most important policy questions in a generation, everyday Oregonians deserve a seat at the table, a way to help set our state’s common course for the future.

“The Lancet COVID-19 Commission has been created to help speed up global, equitable, and lasting solutions to the pandemic.”

- Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Chair of The Lancet COVID-19 Commission, in a commentary in The Lancet

The Lancet COVID-19 Commission

The Lancet COVID-19 Commission will include Commissioners who are leaders of health science and delivery, business, politics, and finance from across the world. They volunteer to serve in their individual capacities, not as formal representatives of their home institutions, and will work together towards a shared and comprehensive outlook on how to stop the pandemic and how best to promote an equitable and sustainable recovery. The Commission and its task forces are committed to excellence and diversity across gender, geography, and sectors of society to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive approach in all aspects of the Commission's work.

Participatory Democracy in the Era of COVID-19 


Beeck Center Fellow Hollie Russon Gilman talks about her newest book, "Civic Power: Rebuilding American Democracy in an Era of Crisis" and takes questions from the webinar audience.

Citizens’ Councils: What are they, and why are they so popular in Austria?

n brief, a larger pool of community members (400-600) is chosen by lot using a mathematically random process. The Council is sponsored by a local municipality, region, or state. The sponsoring agency sends out a carefully-worded formal invitation to the people who have been randomly chosen, to see whether they would be willing to participate in a one-and-a-half day facilitated gathering that culminates in a presentation at a public event. From those who accept the invitation, stratified sampling is used to select a group of 12 to 15. If there are many submissions, or if it is a particularly significant issue, two Councils of 15 people each are formed. After the formation of the Council(s), the task for participants is to arrive at a consensus statement on the chosen policy area.

Democracy in Crisis is a special online series of global roundtable discussions about the use of randomly-selected citizen assemblies to further democracy.  Democracy in Crisis is produced by Ahmed TelebBrian Standing, the 8 O’Clock Buzz and WORT-FM.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s western-style democracy appeared ascendant and inevitable.  U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush hailed events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union as heralding a New World Order, based on democracy and global capitalism.  But the last thirty years have seen, not an expansion of democracy, but a rebirth of authoritarianism.   Across the globe,  electoral fraud, political corruption, disenfranchisement of political minorities and the specter of fascism now seem the rule rather than the exception.  In 2017, the London-based Economist Democracy Index hit its lowest score ever, including the downgrading of the United States from a “Full Democracy” to a “Flawed Democracy.”  The three-part series, Democracy in Crisis, explores the failures of our current electoral system and perhaps, provide some hope for an alternative model. 

Citizens' Assembly of Scotland Youtube channel 

Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland

The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland is a group of 100 citizens' from across Scotland that are broadly representative of the country and are coming together to address the following three questions:

  • What kind of country are we seeking to build?

  • How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit? 

  • What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

The Citizens Assembly will resume online following a break due to COVID disruption. We will reconvene on 5 September and will report to the Scottish Government and Parliament by the end of the year. The Assembly’s remit will be unchanged.
You may recall that before the pause, members had made substantial progress in developing a shared vision for the future of Scotland, had considered key challenges to building a sustainable country. Members also examined Scotland’s finances and taxation, and discussed how decisions are taken for and about Scotland. The Assembly will now complete its work across these areas, while also considering the impact of COVID-19.

Policy on Observers at Meetings of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland

Ted Talk

The New Power of Collaboration

Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action -- and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group.


Check out the Cooperation Resources at Rheingold U 

Howard Rheingold developed this extensive compendium of resources in partnership with the Institute for the Future.

Ted Talk The Power of Cooperation 

In this prescient 2005 talk, Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning.

Citizens' Assemblies are on the rise - more and more countries are experimenting with these assemblies, where randomly chosen citizens deliberate on political priorities and make policy recommendations.

In the right context, Citizens' Assemblies can be a good way to get topics onto the political agenda, but they can also be deeply undemocratic, especially when they are used without a legitimising follow-up, e.g. via a referendum.

The Solonian Democracy Institute was founded in 2017 to research and to further understanding of alternative democratic practices. In particular, the Institute looks at ways to deepen participation beyond elections and to substantially increase the number of people meaningfully involved in political decision-making.

Citizens should have a voice—especially in trying times.

The Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19 will bring together 30 everyday Americans from across the state of Michigan and from across the political spectrum. They will weigh testimony from health and economic experts, have honest conversations, and find common ground. Together, they will guide our communities, our state, and others.

Final Report of the Citizens’ Panel on COVID-19

Cross-party group of MPs to lead UK coronavirus inquiry 

A fresh inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus crisis will take its first evidence from bereaved relatives on Monday, amid growing calls for a full independent investigation.

Families of those who have died will give their submissions in writing, via video call, or will arrange to do so in person to the new all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for coronavirus, led by a cross-party group of MPs.

The MPs claim this is the first independent inquiry into the government’s entire response into the pandemic. The politicians involved hope their findings will be used to inform the government’s response before a potential second peak of the illness this winter.

To give evidence, people can go to the March for Change website where the coronavirus inquiry will be opened for frontline workers and relatives to make submissions via a dedicated portal, anonymously if they wish. Professionals and trade bodies can submit evidence via email and it will be published.

How To Fix Democracy film is a documentary about the contemporary crisis of liberal democracy. Filmed in Europe and the United States, it features dozens of interviews from some of the world's top experts on democracy from academia, media, and government. The documentary charts the rise of illiberal populism and offers economic, technological, and cultural strategies to save liberal democracy. This film is a timely reminder that the defense of freedom is the most critical issue facing us in the early 21st century. It is based on the successful How To Fix Democracy video and podcast series.

In the Media

Citizens’ assemblies have been endorsed by The Economist.

Scientific American has an article that supports the use of citizens’ assemblies.

A university admissions lottery has been proposed in an article in The Boston Business Journal.

Science magazine includes an article on a global citizens’ assembly on genome editing.

Of By For is running a citizens’ assembly in Michigan on the next steps in the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Return of Democracy by Lottery”  New Politics.