Professor John DryzekCentenary Professor, ARC Laureate Fellow


Address: Building 23, Level B University of Canberra Phone: + 61 (0) 2 6201 2502


Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance


Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra

Research Interests

Democratic Theory, Democratization, Environmental Politics, Climate Change and Global Governance


John Dryzek is Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Centenary Professor in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. Before moving to the University of Canberra he was Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow at the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, former Head of the Departments of Political Science at the Universities of Oregon and Melbourne and of the Social and Political Theory program at ANU, and former editor of the Australian Journal of Political Science.

Working in both political theory and empirical social science, he is best known for his contributions in the areas of democratic theory and practice and environmental politics. One of the instigators of the 'deliberative turn' in democratic theory, he has published five books in this area with Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Polity Press. His work in environmental politics ranges from green political philosophy to studies of environmental discourses and movements to global climate governance, and he has published five books in this area with Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Basil Blackwell.

He has also worked on comparative studies of democratization, post-positivist public policy analysis, and the history and philosophy of social science. His current research, funded by the Laureate Fellowship, emphasizes global justice, governance in the Anthropocene (an emerging epoch of instability in the Earth system), and cultural variety in deliberative practice.


Selected Publications

  • Dryzek, (Forthcoming), “The Forum, the System and the Polity: Three Varieties of Democratic Theory”, Political Theory

  • Dryzek, J. (2016), “Can there be a human right to an essentially contested concept? The case of democracy", Journal of Politics, 78, 2, pp. 357-367.
  • Dryzek, J.S. (2016), “Global Environmental Governance”. In Gabrielson, T., Hall, C., Meyer, J.M. and Schlosberg, D., eds, The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 533-544.

  • Dryzek, J.S. (2015), “Democratic Agents of Justice”, Journal of Political Philosophy, 23, 4, pp. 361-384
  • Dryzek, J.S. and Lo, A.Y. (2015), “Reason and Rhetoric in Climate Communication”, Environmental Politics, 24, 1, pp. 1-16.
  • Ercan, S.A. and Dryzek, J.S. (2015), “The reach of deliberative democracy”, Policy Studies, 36, 3, pp. 241-248
  • Ercan, S.A. and Dryzek, J.S. (2015), “Conclusion: the reach of deliberative democracy”, Policy Studies, 36, 3, pp. 359-361
  • Dryzek, J.S. (2015), “Deliberative engagement: the forum in the system”, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 5, 4, pp. 750-754
  • Dryzek, J.S. and Kanra, B. (2014), “Muslims and the Mainstream in Australia: Polarization or Engagement?”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40, 8, pp. 1236-1253.
  • Dryzek, J.S. and Kanra, B. (2014), “Australian Muslims’ Orientation to Secular Society: Empirical Exploration of Theoretical Classifications”, Journal of Sociology, 50, 2, pp. 182-198.
  • Tang, B. and Dryzek, J.S. (2014), “Introduction: The Continuing Search for Deliberation and Participation in China”, Journal of Chinese Political Science, 19, 2, pp. 109-114.
  • Stevenson, H. and Dryzek, J. S. (2014), “Democratizing Global Climate Governance”, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Sass, J. and Dryzek, J.S. (2014), “Deliberative Cultures”, Political Theory, 42, 1, pp. 3-25
  • Dryzek, J.S. (2014), “Global Deliberative Democracy”. In Morin, J.-F. and Orsini, A., eds., Essential Concepts of Global Environmental Governance, Abingdon, Earthscan/Routledge, pp. 76-79

  • Dryzek, J.S. (2014), “Twists of Democratic Governance”. In Gagnon, J.-P., ed., Democratic Theorists in Conversation: Turns in Contemporary Thought, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 101-116

  • Dryzek, J. S., Norgaard, R. B., and Schlosberg, D. (2013) “Climate-Challenged Society”, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Dryzek, J.S. (2014), “Global Deliberative Democracy”. In Morin, J.-F. and Orsini, A., eds., Essential Concepts of Global Environmental Governance, Abingdon, Earthscan/Routledge, pp. 76-79
  • Dryzek, J.S. (2014), “Twists of Democratic Governance”. In Gagnon, J.-P., ed., Democratic Theorists in Conversation: Turns in Contemporary Thought, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 101-116
  • Dyzek, J. S. (2013) “The Deliberative Democrat’s Idea of Justice”, European Journal of Political Theory, 12, pp. 329-46.
  • Curato, N., Niemeyer, S. and Dyzek, J. S. (2013) “Appreciative and Contestatory Inquiry in Deliberative Forums: Can Group Hugs be Dangerous?” Critical Policy Studies 7, pp. 1-17.
Research Projects & Grants


  • Deliberating The Anthropocene (2015-2019)

Investigators: John Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

The Anthropocene is the emerging environmental epoch in which human activity is a major driver of a less stable and more chaotic Earth system, which can be contrasted with the unusual climatic stability of the past 10,000 years of the Holocene (in which human civilization arose). The implications are profound: for example we cannot so easily speak of  “restoration” ecology or environmental “preservation” because there is no going back to any ecological baseline. To date the response of social scientists has been limited, producing at most calls for strengthened global governance. This project explores the idea that a polycentric deliberative approach to the Anthropocene involving co-evolutionary relations between human and ecological systems may yield more effective governance than a top-down managerial approach. The project is both theoretical and empirical, with applications to the global governance of climate change, biological diversity, and ozone layer protection.

Funding: Australian Research Council – Laureate Fellowship

  • Deliberative Global Justice (2015-2019)

Investigators: John Dryzek and Ana Tanasoca

This project develops an encounter between deliberative democracy and global justice, the two most prominent programs in political theory in the past decade and more, both now wrestling with problems that intersect in interesting ways as they encounter a recalcitrant global order. The two topics have become estranged in political theory, where democracy is treated as a matter of procedure, and justice a matter of substantive outcomes that cannot be guaranteed by any procedure. At the same time there is a widely-shared feeling among theorists that the two really do belong together. Amartya Sen argues that global justice requires democracy because in any real setting, multiple conceptions of justice can apply, and public reason will be needed to sort them out. Deliberative democracy can speak to this need. More importantly, without something like deliberative democracy, the standing of the agents necessary to put justice into practice is problematic, and the conditions of their interaction impoverished. This project combines political theory and an application to the post-2015 development agenda (the successor to the Millennium Development Goals).

Funding: Australian Research Council – Laureate Fellowship

  • Deliberative Cultures (2014-2019)

Investigator: John Dryzek

Deliberative democracy is often viewed as being most at home in the constitutional settings of Western liberal democracies, and when applied elsewhere (to the global political system or non-Western societies) this association often forms a baseline against which other practices are measured. Yet if deliberative democracy is to apply to global contexts – such as that defining global justice and the Anthropocene (see other projects) – it is going to involve people from many cultures, with different presuppositions about appropriate political communication. While deliberation manifests a universal human competence to reason collectively (and as such is more universal than, for example, voting), its character varies considerably across time and place. A fuller understanding of political deliberation requires studying diverse social and political contexts. Such studies promise new insight into the various forms deliberative practice can take and the conditions under which it can flourish. The proposed research begins this line of inquiry by establishing an innovative encounter between an intersubjective account of culture and deliberative theory. This encounter will proceed initially through examination of studies in cultural sociology and anthropology that speak to deliberative concerns – even though that was not the intention of their authors. The next step will be a study of the different cultures on display in the various nodes of the system for the global governance of biodiversity. All this can be deployed in response to critics who allege a Eurocentric bias in deliberative democracy.

Funding: Australian Research Council – Laureate Fellowship



  • Deliberative Democratization in China (2011-2014)

Investigator: John Dryzek 

Postdoctoral fellow: Beibei Tang

An innovative deliberative path to democratization may be especially applicable to China, where traditional paths involving constitutionalism and party competition are obstructed or problematic. China has however allowed substantial deliberative innovation at the local level, in part to help cope with the social and environmental dislocation attending rapid economic growth. The broader intent is to develop a generalizable approach to democratization, emphasizing deliberative capacity.

Funding: Australian Research Council - Federation Fellowship 

  • The Deliberative Global Governance of Climate Change (2009-2014)

Investigator: John Dryzek 

Postdoctoral fellow: Hayley Stevenson 

Description: In taking deliberative democracy to the global level, no topic is more important than climate change. The idea is to map the key components of the global deliberative system for the governance of climate change, and assess how effectively they are working in deliberative terms. To the extent this proves to be a deliberative system in disrepair, we need to develop ideas for realistic reform of the system. The international system currently suffers from a severe democratic deficit, but any strengthening of democracy at international and global levels will almost certainly look very different from familiar models found in liberal democratic states.

Funding:  Australian Research Council - Federation Fellowship

  • Creating and Analysing the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (2008-2013)

Investigators: John Dryzek, Lyn Carson, Simon Niemeyer, Janette Hartz-Karp, Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, Ron Lubensky, Ian Marsh and John Gastil

Postdoctoral fellows: Luisa Batalha and Nicole Curato

The pioneering Australian Citizens’ Parliament was held in February 2009 in Old Parliament House, Canberra. The participants were 150 ordinary Australians, selected by stratified random sampling, one from each federal electoral district. They deliberated the question ‘How can Australia’s political system be strengthened to serve us better?’ The project generated a mountain of quantitative and qualitative data which is now being analysed. For more information see http://www.citizensparliament.org.au/ where you can see a video of the process and a lecture about it 

Funding: Australian Research Council - Linkage, and New Democracy Foundation

  • A Deliberative Global Citizens’ Assembly (2009-2012)

Investigators: John Dryzek, André Bächtiger, Karolina Milewicz and Alessandra Pecci

Description: Building on the successful Australian Citizens’ Parliament held in 2009, the idea is to explore the prospects for a global assembly composed of more or less randomly selected participants. This can be contrasted with existing proposals for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, which rely upon problematic combinations of state-nominated participants and a tortuous path to global elections.

Funding: Australian Research Council - Federation Fellowship

  • Communication Across Difference in a Democracy: Australian Muslims and the Mainstream (2007-2014)

Investigators: Bora Kanra and John Dryzek

Research Assistants: Selen A. Ercan and Alessandra Pecci
Australian Muslims have been at the centre of media attention particularly since September the 11th. Even though they comprise no more than 1,5 per cent of the total population, the debate on the compatibility of Islamic and Western values has been very prominent. To date, this debate has focused little attention on the attitudes of Australian Muslims and how they perceive themselves in relation to Western values. This gap, often filled by negative stereotypes, has a wide range of implications in the area of contemporary governance and public policy. This research project studies the relationship between Islamic communities in Australia and the wider society in the context of ideas about cultural difference and democracy. The degree to which Australian Muslims develop a sense of belonging and social responsibility towards mainstream society is directly linked to the level of their inclusion as well as participation in Australia's multicultural scheme. This project aims to contribute to the possibilities to foster a more productive social and political relationship between Australian Muslims and the mainstream. The empirical substance consists of interviews with both Muslims and non-Muslims, with a view to mapping and analysing discourses about difference and democracy in Australia. The knowledge generated can then be deployed to identify exactly how communication across difference can be promoted in this kind of case. The research is informed by a theoretical perspective that highlights the role of social learning in deliberation in a diverse and democratic society. The project studies both ordinary citizens and opinion leaders in Islamic and non-Islamic communities.

Funding: Australian Research Council - Discovery

  • Micropolitics of Deliberation (2005-2008)

Investigators: John Dryzek and Simon Niemeyer 

Research Assistant: Selen A. Ercan 
This project explores the nature of democratic deliberation with a view to improving theories of democracy and prospects for institutionalising the benefits ascribed to deliberative democracy. It aims to systematically address fundamental questions about what it means to deliberate using empirical investigation of actual deliberative process. The methods employed have been trialled with promising results and accepted as being consistent with normative deliberative theory. These involve both formal hypothesis testing and qualitative exploration of results to reveal insights about the process of deliberation. The findings will be used to re-examine theory and formulate recommendations for the instutionalisation of deliberative democracy in both Australian and international contexts.

Funding: Australian Research Council - Discovery

  • The Theory and Practice of Deliberative Democracy (2004-2007)

 Investigators: John Dryzek, Robert Goodin, Christian Hunold, Carolyn Hendriks and Aviezer Tucker
This project examined the relationship between deliberative innovations, especially citizen forums, and the larger political contexts in which they take place. Particular kinds of institutional innovation work out quite differently in different contexts. A comparative study of consensus conferences on genetically modified foods revealed sharp differences between the roles such forums play in Denmark (where they are integrated into policy making), the United States (where they are advocacy inputs from the margins of policy making), and France (where they are managed from the top down). A broader survey of cases also revealed systematic differences between the relatively 'promethean' position that policy makers are constrained to take, and the more 'precautionary' conclusions reached by reflective publics, causing problems for the deliberative legitimation of risk-related policy via citizen forums. A close look at Germany enabled systematic comparison of the virtues and problems of forums made up of, respectively, partisan stakeholders and non-partisan lay citizens. Another broad survey of cases looked at the variety of ways in which citizen forums, or 'mini-publics', can have an impact in larger political systems. All these empirical results can help inform the development of deliberative democratic theory, as well as the practice of deliberative innovation.
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Grant

Grants & Funding

  • Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice, and a Changing Earth System (2014-2019)

Investigator: John Dryzek

Funding: Australian Research Council, Laureate Fellowship.

  • Democracy in the Public Sphere: Achieving Deliberative Outcomes in Mass Publics (2009-2015)

Investigators: Simon Niemeyer, John Dryzek, Bob Goodin, André Bächtiger and Maija Setälä
Postdoctoral fellow: Nicole Curato

This project investigates the mechanisms and settings that facilitate the same deliberative outcomes achieved in small group deliberation among the wider population.

Funding: Australian Research Council – Discovery Project

PhD Supervision

Area of Supervision:

  • Democratic Theory
  • Democratization
  • Environmental Politics
  • Climate Change
  • Global Governance

Involvement in PhD Supervisory Panels:

  • Natalie Boal, "Religion in Australia - Understanding the complex relationship between comprehensive doctrines and policy and politics" (Advisor)
  • Roger Davis, "How can deliberative democracy improve indigenous engagement in Australia?" (Advisor)
  • Wendy Conway Lamb, "Bridging the gap between community-based adaptation and top-down climate change policies: Can principles of deliberative democracy enable an evolution towards multi-scale climate-smart development?" (Primary Supervisor)
  • Jane Alver, "Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion in the Case of International Women's Rights Advocacy" (Secondary Supervisor)
  • Emerson Sanchez, "Deliberating environmental knowledge in the politics of mining in the Philippines" (Primary Supervisor)
  • Kei Nishiyama, "From Future Citizen to Deliberators: Realizing Children's Deliberative System through the Deliberation in School" (Primary Supervisor)
  • Jo Mummery, "Climate risk and decision making: The role of science in an integrated approach to adaptation" (Secondary Supervisor)






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