Assessing the quality of a deliberative democracy mini-public event about advanced biofuel production and development in Canada

Holly Longstaff, David M Secko

The importance of evaluating deliberative public engagement events is well recognized, but such activities are rarely conducted for a variety of theoretical, political and practical reasons. In this article, we provide an assessment of the criteria presented in the 2008 National Research Council report on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making (NRC report) as explicit indicators of quality for the 2012 ‘Advanced Biofuels’ deliberative democracy event. The National Research Council’s criteria were selected to evaluate this event because they are decision oriented, are the products of an exhaustive review of similar past events, are intended specifically for environmental processes and encompass many of the criteria presented in other evaluation frameworks. It is our hope that the results of our study may encourage others to employ and assess the National Research Council’s criteria as a generalizable benchmark that may justifiably be used in forthcoming deliberative events exploring different topics with different audiences.

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