Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Welcome to the Centre for Deliberative Democracy & Global Governance

It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized.  - Pericles


Deliberative democracy is one of the major growth areas in contemporary political theory and social science, and ANU claims what is possibly the world’s largest concentration of deliberative democracy scholars. Many of the world’s leading deliberative democrats have spent time with us. The ‘Global Governance’ in our title emphasises research directions that encompass transnational democracy and democratisation, though research on democratic theory, local and national deliberation, and the micropolitics of deliberative forums also flourishes.

Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance is jointly sponsored by the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences (in particular, the School of Politics & International Relations) and College of Asia and the Pacific (in particular, the Department of International Relations). Funding is also supplied by the Australian Research Council.





Today Australian National University is home to the world’s largest concentration of deliberative democracy scholars, who can build 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; he did much of the work on this while a Research Fellow at ANU.  Two important books published in Oxford University Press’s prestigious Oxford Political Theory series are Robert Goodin’s Reflective Democracy (2003) , and John 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). John Uhr’s Deliberative Democracy in Australia (Cambridge University Press 1998) is the definitive work on the topic. Three books which began life as ANU PhDs 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 (2011).


Current and former ANU staff members John Dryzek, Bob Goodin, Gerry Mackie, Bora Kanra, Simon Niemeyer, Carolyn Hendriks, Christian List, Philip Pettit, Hayley Stevenson, and Aviezer Tucker 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, British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Ethics, Environmental Politics, Governance, Government and Opposition, Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Theory, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Issues, Policy Sciences, Political Studies, Politics and Society, Politics Philosophy and Economics, Public Administration, Public Administration Review, Science Technology and Human Values, as well as numerous book chapters. List has co-edited a book on Deliberation and Decision. 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.”


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 John Dryzek and Simon Niemeyer organized and ran the Australian Citizens’ Parliament, a world first. Earlier, the Research School of Social Sciences was Australian co-sponsor of the nationally televised deliberative polls on the republic and reconciliation issues (led by James Fishkin, now of Stanford University, Center for Deliberative Democracy).


In the peak days of ANU’s Social and Political Theory Program in the early 2000s, deliberative democracy was, as Bob Goodin once put it, the ‘lingua franca’ of that Program.  Much of the work done at that time was theoretical. Soon ANU scholars were at the forefront of the turn toward appraising and informing deliberative theory using empirical methods, and exploring possibilities for institutionalizing deliberation.  Some of this research involves conducting and analyzing 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.

Upcoming events

There are currently no upcoming events

Updated: 24 April 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Centre for Deliberative Democracy & Global Governance / Page Contact:  Web Publisher