Public organizations and governments increasingly recognize that to address our toughest and most complex systemic problems we need collaborative analysis, decision-making, and action from across social sectors.
One influential cluster of approaches centers on public involvement: citizens using collective problem-solving to inform both government and community action, whether in invited spaces like citizens’ assemblies, panels, and juries, or in claimed spaces in civil society. There’s not a lot of focus, though, in theories and practices of public involvement on how particular interventions are able to address and affect complex systems where interventions often have limited or unexpected outcomes given multiple feedback loops, time delays, and nested systems.
Another influential cluster of approaches focuses on understanding and influencing whole systems, using tools from fields of systems thinking, systemic design, and social innovation. These approaches typically bring together organized stakeholders, have distinctive methods for building common understanding of a problem, and emphasize prototyping and pilots as routes to effective intervention. There has been less focus here, though, on how their interventions can build democratic involvement, accountability, and sustainability rather than being elite, technocratic, or shallowly rooted in public will.
This course will stage a conversation between these two fields. We’ll do so through scholarship (e.g. Jason Chilvers, Andrea Cornwall, Tim Draimin, John Dryzek, Archon Fung, John Gaventa, Carolyn Lee, Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Jane Mansbridge, Tina Nabatchi, Alex Ryan, John Parkinson, John Sterman, Werner Ulrich). And we’ll do so by using the methods of both fields to organize our own discussions and to experimentally engage with complex problems in the world around us.
POLS 602: Political Theory (with Professors Heyes and Kellogg)
A PhD level course in contemporary political theory.