Fels Report Highlights Strategies for Productive Public Engagement

Fels Research & Consulting released Building Common Ground, a report which focuses on proven strategies that produce effective results and positive public engagement. This report is part of the Promising Practices series, a compilation of briefs that provide public sector leaders and managers with effective, practical, and innovative information on a broad range of public management topics.

Building Common Ground provides a roadmap on how to build a more engaged and deliberative society. The report is based on a national survey, in-depth interviews with public engagement practitioners, scholarly research and practical expertise, providing an essential set of tools for public officials, civic leaders, and engaged citizens to foster public engagement in the interest of community problem-solving. It presents guidance on proven approaches to public engagement, including neutrality and issue framing, how to ensure transparency, and communication outreach strategies.

Written for local leaders in the public sector as an implementable resource, the report offers several differing approaches to public engagement. It explains the reasons behind, and benefits of public engagement activities, and it describes best practices for organizing and conducting effective public engagement sessions.

“Many people may question why we should focus on public engagement during such sharply divided times,” said Dr. Harris Sokoloff, Lead Report Author and Founder and Director of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement. “It is precisely because we are so divided that policy makers need to engage the public in conversation. That may be our only hope for bridging the divide. For, if we do not open ourselves, and our communities, to listen to various perspectives, we put the future of our democracy at risk.”

Building Common Ground presents three key functions to public engagement, including distribution of information from public sector representatives and institutions to their constituents, the acquisition of feedback from individual citizens to their public servants, and the engagement among citizens and public leaders.

“This report provides a roadmap for how to build a more engaged society, which reflects the commitment at Fels to foster local and global engagement and strengthen the impact of the public sector,” said David Thornburgh, Executive Director, Fels Institute of Government. “Public engagement can be used to inform the public, acquire feedback from the public, or build common ground on a specific issue – all of which foster goodwill and generate support for important public policy concerns.”

To access the full report, please click here.

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