Among its core programs, the Forum convenes citizen panels to provide the opportunity for citizens to share their views and experiences on high-priority issues. Building around a deliberative dialogues approach, this innovative program helps to uncover unique understandings of these issues and spark insights about viable solutions that are aligned with citizens’ values and experiences. The citizen panels are organized across the country and may combine in-person with online/teleconferencing meetings.
Steps in a citizen panel
Preparatory consultation with a steering committee created specifically for each panel and 15-20 key informants help to frame and characterize the issue and the possible ways to address it.
Before the panel meeting (or series of meetings), we prepare and circulate a plain-language citizen brief that mobilizes relevant research evidence about an issue, options for addressing it, and/or relevant implementation considerations. Citizen briefs are made publicly available after the event has taken place.
We convene a citizen panel, which brings together a group of 14 to 18 citizens (and occasionally as many as five to 10 such groups to discuss the same topic) for an off-the-record dialogue where they can bring their own views and experiences to bear on the issue, learn from the evidence and from others’ views and experiences, and share their newly informed views about the issue and how to address it.
After the event, we prepare and circulate a panel summary (as one type of event 'footprint' that will benefit others). This document is made publicly available on the Forum's website. We also provide customized post-event briefings to partners involved in funding or working with the panel, to further prepare them to tackle the issue.
We evaluate the key features of the citizen brief and citizen panel to ensure that the process contributes to our collective understanding about how citizens can best be engaged in shaping how society addresses health issues.
To listen to an interview with Julia Abelson, an adjunct faculty member with the Forum and leading researcher on community engagement, in which she discusses initiatives on public engagement, click here.
For more information on the citizen panel program, contact
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