The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance is the world-leading centre in the field of deliberative democracy. In February 2014, the Centre moved to the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra, joining Australia’s largest concentration of scholars specialising in citizen-centric governance.

The Centre was originally established at the Australian National University, where it was jointly hosted by the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences and the College of Asia and the Pacific.

Over the past decade or more the Centre has hosted over 40 visiting scholars from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, produced 15 PhDs, published 12 books and over 100 journal articles, hosted eight international conferences and received nine large research grants and fellowships.

The Centre welcomes PhD students and visitors specialising in the theory, practice and empirical study of deliberative democracy. We have particular interests in global governance, democratization and environmental governance, and provide a home to social and political theorists, political scientists, ecological economists, social psychologists, and individuals from many other disciplinary backgrounds.

Research achievements

The Centre builds on a history of substantial achievements.

John Dryzek’s 1990 Cambridge University Press book Discursive Democracy was the world’s first book-length treatment of what came to be known as deliberative democracy. Gerry Mackie’s Democracy Defended (also published by Cambridge) won the Gladys Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association for the best book on U.S. national policy published in 2003. Mackie did much of the work on this while a Research Fellow in Canberra.

Two important books published in Oxford University Press’s prestigious Oxford Political Theory series are Robert Goodin’s Reflective Democracy (2003) and Dryzek’s Deliberative Democracy and Beyond (2000). Subsequently Goodin published another book with Oxford: Innovating Democracy: Democratic Theory and Practice After the Deliberative Turn (2008), while Dryzek took on global issues in Deliberative Global Politics (Polity Press 2006). With Simon Niemeyer Dryzek published Foundations and Frontiers of Deliberative Governance (Oxford University Press 2010). John Uhr’s Deliberative Democracy in Australia (Cambridge University Press 1998) is the definitive work on the topic.

Three books which began life as PhDs with us are John Parkinson’s Deliberating in the Real World: Problems of Legitimacy in Deliberative Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2006), Bora Kanra’s Islam, Democracy and Dialogue in Turkey (Ashgate, 2009), and Carolyn Hendriks, The Politics of Public Deliberation: Citizen Engagement and Interest Advocacy (Palgrave Macmillan 2011).

Current and former Canberra-based scholars John Dryzek, Robert Goodin, Gerry Mackie, Bora Kanra, Simon Niemeyer, Carolyn Hendriks, Christian List, Philip Pettit, Hayley Stevenson, Beibei Tang, Aviezer Tucker, Nicole Curato and Selen  Ercan have published many articles on deliberative democracy topics in top international journals such as Acta Politica, American Political Science Review,  American Journal of Political Science, Annual Review of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Critical Policy Studies, Comparative Political Studies, Ecological Economics, Ethics, Ethics and International Affairs, Environmental Politics, Governance, Government and Opposition, International Political Science Review, Journal of Political Philosophy, Journal of Contemporary China, Political Theory, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Issues, Policy Sciences, Political Studies, Policy Studies, Political Theory, Politics and Society, Politics Philosophy and Economics, Public Administration, Public Administration Review, Review of International Studies,  Science Technology and Human Values, as well as numerous book chapters. Carolyn Hendriks won the Harold Lasswell award for the best article published in Policy Sciences in 2005 for her paper on “Participatory Storylines and their Impact on Deliberative Forums.”

Collaborative projects

In cooperation with the New Democracy Foundation (Luca Belgiorno-Nettis) and individuals at the University of Sydney (Lyn Carson and Ron Lubensky), Curtin University (Janette Hartz-Karp), and University of Tasmania (Ian Marsh), in 2008-2009 Dryzek and Niemeyer organized and ran the Australian Citizens’ Parliament, a world first.

Research trajectory

In the peak days of ANU’s Social and Political Theory Program in the early 2000s, deliberative democracy was, as Goodin once put it, the ‘lingua franca’ of that Program.  Much of the work done at that time was theoretical. Soon the Centre’s scholars were at the forefront of the turn toward appraising and informing deliberative theory using empirical methods, and exploring possibilities for institutionalising deliberation.  Some of this research involves conducting and analysing deliberative processes, with special reference to how individuals experience their participation, and how and to what effect their preferences, judgments, and values change as a result. Some looks at the way deliberative forums take effect within larger political processes. Some involves detailed case studies of governance from a deliberative perspective.  Some looks at the prospects for dialogue in problematic settings.

The Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship awarded to John Dryzek in 2008 added research on global governance, the democratization of authoritarian states, and deliberative practice in China in particular. A series of ARC grants and fellowships to Simon Niemeyer have enabled substantial work on the process of deliberation, applying lessons from deliberative forums to larger systems, and exploring public response to climate change.

In all this work there is no ‘party line’ – staff, students, and visitors have brought many different perspectives to bear. Substantive topics vary from global systems to national institutions to local forums. Theoretical perspectives range from rational choice to critical theory to social psychology to post-structuralism. Methods vary from large-n statistics to Q methodology to interpretive case studies to logical deduction.