Lyn Carson – Research Director, The newDemocracy Foundation
What is the question?
How can participants in mini-publics critically and effectively, hear and learn from expert witnesses in a way that ensures they understand the challenges being considered?
NB: This R&D Note is focused on human experts in the decision-making space and not on published or online material which has its own set of challenges.
What are the usual answers?
Experts may be self-defined or may have obtained relevant credentials. They claim to know or do know a great deal about their specific area of expertise. These experts could be scientists, academics, government employees, special interest groups, community activists, and more. For many of them, the ‘banking model’ of learning persists: that learners are empty vessels into which knowledge can be deposited and later withdrawn (Freire, 1976). Experts need only provide a persuasive presentation or a fact-based lecture and their job is done.