The Campus Conversations program at Carnegie Mellon University represents the first systematic use of deliberative polling at the campus level. Deliberative polling is a democratic decision-making process capable of articulating the informed voice of a community and potentially raising that voice to a level where those who make policy decisions can hear it.
Developed and trademarked by James Fishkin at Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy, a Deliberative Poll® is a specific form of democratic dialogue in which a randomly selected sample of a community is pre-surveyed on an issue and then given balanced background information on that issue. That sample later gathers at one site and is divided into randomly assigned small discussion groups to ensure a diversity of opinion in each group. After voicing one’s own and listening to the opinions of others in a moderated roundtable setting, group members have the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of experts.
A post-deliberation survey measures what the entire community might think if it had the chance to learn about an issue, discuss it with others and consult with experts. The protocols of this process, which have been honed at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh since 2005, can create the conditions for a representative sample of a community to not only become well informed about an issue but also to impact actual policy decisions.
In addition to deliberative polls, the Campus Conversations program also conducts deliberative loops which represent a variation of the protocols of deliberative polls and utilize convenience sampling, similar to the sampling protocols employed by AmericaSpeaks. A Deliberative Loop® consists of a structured conversation about a designated issue with a diverse group of participants who have been provided with balanced information about that issue. The data set includes both survey data and moderator notes and facilitates documentation of the results in the form of a report or outcome statement.
The Campus Conversations program at Carnegie Mellon Qatar is orchestrated by the Division of Student Affairs with support from the Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) department and the Office of Academic Affairs. For more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.