Our communities face many problems which elude technical solutions because they inherently involve competing values that fuel polarization and dysfunction. Traditional communication methods and processes often struggle to help us address such “wicked problems,” and can even backfire, causing more frustration and outrage. Based on the latest research on social psychology and public engagement, as well as 14 years of practice designing local engagement efforts, this presentation shares key insights on innovative deliberative processes designed to engage residents more productively and build local capacity for long-term quality engagement.
Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., is a professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD), which was awarded a 2019 “Civvy” Award as a national example of a best practice in civic collaboration and collective action. His research focuses on helping local communities address “wicked problems” more productively through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. The CPD is a practical, applied extension of his work, and functions as an impartial resource dedicated to enhancing local democracy in Northern Colorado. Dr. Carcasson and the CPD staff train students to serve as impartial facilitators, who then work with local governments, school boards, and community organizations to design, facilitate, and report on innovative projects and events on key community issues.