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What is Public dialogue?

Public dialogue supported by Sciencewise brings together members of the public, policy makers, scientists and other expert stakeholders to deliberate, reflect and come to conclusions on national public policy issues. We specialise in helping the public discuss complex and controversial issues relating to science and technology.

The Sciencewise approach to public dialogue is described in The Government's Approach to Public Dialogue (the Guiding Principles).

Public dialogue allows a diverse mix of public participants with a range of views and values to:

  • learn from written information and experts
  • listen to each other, and share and develop their views
  • reach carefully considered conclusions
  • communicate those conclusions directly to inform Government’s decision making.

Good public dialogue can help policy makers and Government to:

  • make better, more robust decisions that reflect public values and societal implications
  • increase legitimacy for tough decisions
  • demonstrate accountability in public investment
  • overcome entrenched positions to enable policy to move forward
  • gain a rich understanding of public aspirations and concerns that goes beyond media headlines or focus groups.

Public dialogue does not:

  • remove Government responsibility for decision making
  • rely only on surveys or opinion polls to gather public views
  • seek endorsement of decisions that have already been made
  • replace other public information or consultation processes.

For more information on public dialogue, please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in brief, or as a full briefing paper here.