This Research Note introduces a range of ‘mini-publics’ and outlines key features, how they work, and how they may improve opportunities for citizens to contribute to public deliberation and participatory governance.
The idea of mini-publics was first proposed four decades ago by political scientist Robert Dahl. Inspired by democratic ideals and social science principles, Dahl envisioned an innovative mechanism for involving citizens in dealing with public issues. He called it ‘minipopulus’: an assembly of citizens, demographically representative of the larger population, brought together to learn and deliberate on a topic in order to inform public opinion and decision-making. A growing number of democratic innovations have flourished around the world based on this idea, from Citizens’ Juries, to Planning Cells, Consensus Conferences, Deliberative Polls and Citizens’ Assemblies. Mini-publics have been used to deal with topics ranging from constitutional and electoral reform, to controversial science and technology, and myriad social issues (e.g. health, justice, planning, sectarianism).
The paper includes answers to frequently asked questions about mini-publics. You can also see more examples and resources on the What Works Scotland website.
The Commission on Parliamentary Reform presented its report to the Scottish Parliament on 20th June 2017. The report is available HERE. Since November 2016 the Commission has met with and considered the views of over twelve hundred people from across Scotland including MSPs and former MSPs, academics, the third sector and members of the public. The report makes a series of recommendations which collectively will strengthen the Parliament’s scrutiny role and encourage wider engagement and democratic innovation.
First launched in 2016/17, the Community Choices Fund is a new fund to support participatory budgeting (PB) in Scotland. Targeted particularly at work in deprived areas, the fund aims to build on the support provided by the Scottish Government for PB since 2014 as part of a broader agenda around democratic innovation and engaged citizenship. PB empowers local people to make decisions on local spending priorities and contribute to local democracy.
The Programme for Government 2016/17 included a commitment that the Scottish Government will continue to work with local government and communities on having at least 1% of council budget subject to Community Choices budgeting. The 1% target is also one of five commitments included in the Scottish Government’s Open Government Partnership national action plan published in December 2016.
Community Choices supports one of the principles of Public Service Reform, that people should have equal opportunity to participate and have their voice heard in decisions shaping their local community and society. Finally it complements the aspirations of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 which will help give communities more powers to take forward their own ambitions. To continue to support the growth of PB in Scotland the Community Choices Fund is available again for 2017/18.
The total fund available for applications is £1.5 million and will be available in two categories:
- Category one is £750,000 for Public Authorities from a minimum bid of £20,000 up to a maximum bid of £100,000.
- Category two is £750,000 for Community Organisations and Community Councils from a minimum bid of £20,000 up to a maximum bid of £100,000.
The funding is available to allocate to projects, to run the PB process itself whether small projects or mainstreaming, training & development, capacity building and support for communities. For Public Authorities, the funding to allocate to projects will be awarded on a match funding basis only to the lead applicant, although joint bids including project funding from other partners are welcome.
The PB Scotland website www.PBScotland.scot provides more information about community choices events, policy and resources in Scotland, and profiles examples, pictures and videos of Community Choices in action.
PIR staff nominated in several categories
We’re delighted and proud to announce that PIR staff (Politics & International Relations, Edinburgh University) were nominated widely and often for EUSA teaching awards, and that our PhD student, Lisa Schweiger, has been shortlisted as a finalist for Best Tutor. Congratulations to everyone! And the nominees are:
Andrea Birdsall – Best overall teacher (2)
Elizabeth Bomberg – Best Personal Tutor (8), Best Overall Teacher (4)
Sara Dorman – Best Overall Teacher
Oliver Escobar – Best Teacher (13) Best Course (1)
Iain Hardie – Best Overall Teacher
Meryl Kenny – Best Teacher, Best Course (2)
Mihaela Mihai – Best dissertation supervisor (2), Best feed-back, Best course, Best Teacher
Lisa Schweiger – Best PhD Tutor (final shorlistee)
Mathias Thaler – Best Overall Teacher, Best Personal Tutor, Best Dissertation Supervisor
Oliver Turner – Best Overall Teacher
Oliver Escobar and Fiona McKenzie at the launch of the report in January 2017
The need for food provision is growing in the UK and the shame and stigma of resorting to foodbanks are significant barriers to access for those needing support. Solving food poverty and the causes of increased foodbank use may take time; meanwhile, there is a clear need for immediate innovations in the provision of services.
Centrestage is a charity, backed by the social enterprise Centrestage Music Theatre CIC, that uses food and the arts to engage people, help to improve their life chances and (re)build communities.
This report focuses on Centrestage’s distinct food provision programme in some of the most deprived areas of North and East Ayrshire. The programme seeks to help people to access support, address underlying problems, build relationships and develop capacity for community action.
On 26 October 2016, the independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform was established by the Presiding Officer to look at how the Scottish Parliament can engage better with the people of Scotland and how its work can be improved to deliver better scrutiny.
These are some notes I’ve made to guide my input to the Commission’s evidence session on 25th November 2016. They outline ideas, questions and arguments to inform democratic innovation at the Scottish Parliament.
Click here so see more information about the Commission, how it works and how to contribute.