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Exploring the Future of Public Engagement — ICYMI

MIT professor Ceasar McDowell discusses his work through the Center for Constructive Communication — designing tools, methods and systems to connect us and create a healthier society.

In a politicized country, many blame social media as a divisive influence — although some believe it has merely revealed (and amplified) existing societal splits.

Ceasar McDowell, professor of the practice of civic design at MIT and associate head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, notes that we find ourselves in the most demographically complex set of people who have ever lived together. Unfortunately, we have neither the infrastructure nor the processes in place to support this kind of a diverse public so that it can do what it needs to for democracy to work.

When the public is not engaged from the very beginning, they won't be invested in the work of government. Both the organizers and those participating suffer from the trauma of "bad" public processes.

In this episode of ICYMI, McDowell discusses a “civic design framework” (the six conversations the public needs to be involved in), the need to design new systems to replace those originally designed to exclude people and the goal of creating a system that flows from intimate conversations to the decision-making process while keeping the integrity of the public voice and experience along the way.


Visit the MIT Center for Constructive Communication.

Read about the movement to rebuild our public's muscle for democracy via We Who Engage.


“In Case You Missed It” is Government Technology’s weekly news roundup and interview live show featuring e.Republic Chief Innovation Officer Dustin Haisler and Deputy Chief Innovation Officer Joe Morris as they bring their analysis and insight to the week’s most important stories in state and local government.

Follow along live Fridays at 12 p.m. PST on LinkedIn and YouTube.

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Dustin Haisler is the Chief Innovation Officer of Government Technology's parent company e.Republic. Previously the finance director and later CIO for Manor, Texas, a small city outside Austin, Haisler quickly built a track record and reputation as an early innovator in civic tech. As President, Haisler drives exponential growth, implements new ideas and promotes a corporate culture that rewards creativity. Read his full bio.
Joseph Morris is the Chief Innovation Officer of <i>Government Technology's</i> parent company e.Republic and a national keynote speaker on issues, trends and drivers impacting state and local government and education. He has authored publications and reports on funding streams, technology investment areas and public-sector priorities, and has led roundtables, projects and initiatives focused on issues within the public sector. Joe has conducted state and local government research with e.Republic since 2007 and knows the ins and outs of government on all levels. He received his Bachelor of Arts in government and international relations from the California State University, Sacramento.