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Get involved in public deliberation during Covid-19

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  • Deliberative democracy

The RSA is partnering with a new organisation called Engage Britain to run a large scale, online conversation about the challenges facing the country.

You can find out more about this below and get involved in the conversation.

Covid-19 and public deliberation

One of the striking elements of the coronavirus crisis has been the disruption it has caused to the routines, practices, and business models of people and organisations throughout the world. 

Hundreds of millions more people are now meeting on virtual platforms. Companies have had to move online in a matter of weeks. New infrastructure, including hospitals and logistics operations, have been created in days rather than years. 

There will, of course, be deep and long-lasting devastation caused by Covid-19. And there will be many working practices that we may not be able to return to for many months. 

But amidst this devastation opportunities will present themselves to rethink how we live our lives. 

One such area will be how we go about engaging with citizens of the UK (and around the world) in complex policy debates. 

In the wake of Brexit and the sustained advocacy of climate activists, there has been a resurgence of interest in citizens assemblies, deliberative polls, and other methodologies that bring groups of people together to discuss complex policy ideas.

Although Climate Assembly UK – the biggest citizens’ assembly in the UK to date – was speedily and successfully moved online during lockdown, restrictions on face-to-face gatherings will continue to create complications for public engagement. And yet, never has there been a policy issue that has so affected the lives of citizens of the country. 

Engaging a diverse Britain 

This all provides a unique backdrop to the launch of Engage Britain, a new organisation which will trial novel ways of engaging diverse groups of people from across the UK. It will use a variety of different methods, many of which are online.

In line with Matthew Taylor’s previous proposal for a citizens’ convention, the aim is to encourage people to engage in solving some of the most complex challenges facing the UK using tried and tested methodologies that break down barriers. Many of these challenges have been laid bare by the current crisis.

To kick off this work, and to help set the agenda for Engage Britain, the RSA is partnering on one of the first of these exercises – the running of a large-scale, online conversation to crowdsource ideas about the challenges facing the country.

With the specific aim of generating views and ideas from a large cross section of the British public, including RSA Fellows. This should enable us to understand better what your views are, and how they might differ from a sample of the UK population. 

That way we can make sure we are bringing together the most diverse groups. We look forward to hearing your opinion!


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