There are many ways government officials and community leaders can engage the public around the myriad issues that affect people's lives. It is our stance that quality public engagement must take into consideration seven core principles if it is to effectively build mutual understanding, meaningfully affect policy development, and inspire collaborative action among citizens and institutions.
The following seven principles overlap and reinforce each other in practice. They serve both as ideals to pursue and as criteria for judging quality. Rather than promoting partisan agendas, the implementation of these principles generates authentic engagement in public problem-solving.
The Seven Core Principles
- Preparation - Consciously plan, design, convene and arrange the engagement to serve its purpose and people.
- Inclusion - Incorporate multiple voices and ideas to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
- Collaboration - Support organizers, participants, and those engaged in follow-up to work well together for the common good.
- Learning - Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate events for lessons.
- Transparency - Promote openness and provide a public record of the people, resources, and events involved.
- Impact - Ensure each participatory effort has the potential to make a difference.
- Sustainability - Promote a culture of participation by supporting programs and institutions that sustain quality public engagement.