As the Ash Center’s Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship Archon Fung spends his time thinking about the impacts of civic participation, public deliberation, and transparency upon public and private governance. Now, he is turning research into action by actively promoting citizen participation with his new website, Participedia. Developed with Mark Warren of the University of British Columbia, Participedia’s goal is nothing less than strengthening democracy with its user-generated library of examples and methods of participatory governance, public deliberation, and collaborative public action. From citizen involvement in budgeting to oversight groups that ensure better health care and social service delivery, government initiatives that encourage democratic participation demonstrate powerful results.
Launched in September 2009, Participedia uses the same wiki platform as Wikipedia to tell stories about efforts such as participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil; municipal evaluation meetings in China; and the CaliforniaSpeaks health care dialogue with citizens. Participedia’s open platform allows any user to contribute or edit content. This offers researchers and practitioners a unique one-stop source for information that is normally maintained, to varying degrees, by government agencies and individual funders. In this way, Professor Fung hopes to connect theory with practice. In addition, there are articles on participatory methods, including deliberative polling, citizens’ assemblies, and participatory budgeting, as well as articles about the organizations that sponsor, implement, and study participatory governance. Over time, the project directors anticipate that Participedia will garner hundreds and perhaps thousands of articles.