Abstract: There is a growing need for public buy-in for the smooth operation of democracy. But from whom and where should this support come? What does meaningful public engagement in policy-making processes look like? How can our understanding of “the public” expand to include diverse voices and experiences, particularly of those who have historically been marginalized? And what does this mean for how we teach public policy? Using a collection of public engagement vignettes, we will raise and respond to these questions while offering an introduction to policy justice as a framework for public engagement. Stretching the boundaries of deliberative democracy in theory and practice, this panel draws on insights from chapters in an edited collection (Wiebe & Levac under review) to critically reflect on how diverse publics are engaged in policy processes. The policy justice framework departs from positivist approaches to political science and draws upon intersectional, interpretive and Indigenous methodologies. Policy justice depends on framing by diverse people, knowledges, and forms of evidence. We are concerned with persistent failures and paradoxes in these regards – including at the intersections between them. To illuminate the idea of policy justice, we will use vignettes about public engagement that offer diverse methodologies which are socially-engaged, and disruptive to persistent power relations. With an emphasis on creative forms of engagement, we focus on practices of meaning-making and how citizens feel, enact and “sense” policy (Wiebe 2016). We aim to open conversation about how public engagement processes can lead to policy justice.
Book Contributors: Alana Cattapan, Alexandra Dobrowolsky, April Mandrona, Astrid Pérez Piñán, Bruno de Oliviera Jayme, Catriona Remocker, Dan Reist, Deborah Stienstra, Derek Tannis, Ellen Szarleta, Ethel Tungohan, Genevieve Fuji Johnson, Jacqueline Gillis, Joanna Ashworth, Leah Levac, Rachel Magnusson, Sarah Marie Wiebe, Stephen Williams, Tammy Findlay, Tara Mahoney, Tim Dyck, Xuan Thuy Nguyen.