Creating space for transformative conversations

Rethinking BC Referendums with John Gastil

2019 Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue

January 31, 2019
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The 2019 Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue featured Dr. John Gastil, Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences and Professor of Political Science at Penn State University, as a guest speaker for Welch Community Dialogue to share his expertise on deliberative democracy and group decision-making.

About John Gastil

Dr. John Gastil studies political deliberation and group decision making across a range of contexts. His work on the Citizens’ Initiative Review has helped evaluate an exciting new form of public deliberation that should improve initiative elections. His Jury and Democracy Project has investigated, and hopefully helped vindicate, the jury system as a valuable civic educational institution. His work with the Cultural Cognition Project in demonstrating the ways in which our deeper values bias how we learn about issues and form opinions. Professor Gastil has integrated some of the best research in his primary fields of study in two books. Political Communication and Deliberation uses the idea of public deliberation as a way to organize the wider study of political communication, and The Group in Society presents an Embedded System Framework for integrating research on group communication and behavior. He teaches courses on Democratic Deliberation and Group Communication.

Events

January 31, 2019
Academic Roundtable on Deliberative Democracy
SFU Burnaby, Diamond Alumni Centre
Facilitator: Mark Winston 

Scholars from the Greater Vancouver region gathered a moderated discussion on the question “What are the most promising directions for future theory and research on deliberative democracy?”

 

January 31, 2019
Public Dialogue and Reception: Rethinking BC Referendums
SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue 
Facilitator: Shauna Sylvester 

Electoral reform. Harmonized Sales Tax. Transit funding. The last few years have seen British Columbians participate in an unprecedented number of referendums. The result has frequently been increased political and regional division, confused voters, and a platform for extreme ideas.

In the time of fake news, ideological biases, and the rapid spread of misinformation, voters often have difficulty finding relevant, reliable, and concise information to help them assess the policy issues that appear on their ballots. Is there a way to consult the public without divisive rhetoric and poor-quality public discourse? And when is a referendum an appropriate tool to do so?

Dr. Gastil shared his research on the Oregon’s Citizens Initiative Review as an example of engaging citizens in a deliberative process. More than 100 people joined the dialogue to share their experience in the past referendum and thoughts on how to improve BC’s referendum process.

 

February 1, 2019
Stakeholder Breakfast: Improving Referendums in BC Roundtable
Delta Downtown Suites 
Facilitator: Shauna Sylvester 

30 decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders with direct experience in past BC referendums got together to tackle the question, “how can British Columbia learn from past referendum experiences to better engage citizens on decision making in the future?”

 

February 1, 2019
Principles of Collaborative Engagement Discussion 
SFU Harbour Centre

 

February 1, 2019
Deliberative Dialogue Discussion  
SFU Harbour Centre

 

About the Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue

Exploring critical community issues through dialogue, this annual programming engages the community at large with the academic community to explore innovative approaches to local issues through cross-sectoral dialogue. 

News Media coverage 

On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko, special to CBC  (January 31, 2019)

Conversations that Matter: Honesty in Referendums - with Stu McNish (January 31, 2019)