What is a Deliberative Poll?
"Developed and tested by Professor James Fishkin at Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy, a Deliberative Poll gathers a representative sample of the community to discuss and respond to questions on pressing local, regional or national issues. While traditional public opinion polls solicit intuitive responses from people who are not informed on the topic, a Deliberative Poll represents 'what the electorate would think if, hypothetically, it could be immersed in an intensive deliberation process' (James Fishkin, Democracy and Deliberation). A scientific random sample of the population will receive background information on the issues. The sampled individuals then gather in small groups to discuss and deliberate the topic amongst themselves and with experts and then respond to a scientific poll. The result of such a process reflects what the community as a whole would think about a particular issue or policy if that community had time to become informed about the issue. What is emerging from deliberative polling is nothing less than the development of a new democratic decision-making process capable of articulating the informed voice of the people and potentially raising that voice to the level of 'consulting power' as a consequence of those deliberations." (Adapted from http://caae.phil.cmu.edu/caae/dp/about/.)
By holding deliberative polls at Carnegie Mellon, we hope to learn what students, faculty. staff and alumni think about key issues on campus after they've been able to read and discuss these issues with each other and with experts in the field.