Our Swerhun team works all the time to update our thinking on how best to connect public sector decision-makers to the communities they serve (and communities to decision-makers). We’ve written a handbook (Discuss. Decide. Do.) and we also do a lot of teaching, training, research and writing on what can be done to get people working together more collaboratively. We think about this from a number of angles, including how:
- To build government’s trust in communities, and communities’ trust in government;
- To best identify and understand the respective roles, responsibilities and powers of governments, staff, and broader civil society;
- To ensure that engagement, participation and consultation efforts are explicit about what decisions are open for influence, and how feedback received will be considered (it does not mean that “whatever the public says goes”, but it does mean that governments clearly identify how community feedback is used, and if not, explain why not); and
- Governments and communities can work together to develop policies and deliver projects guided by a collective effort to serve the public good.
We are members of the International Political Science Association, and have been keenly following the work of organizations like ours that play a very similar role to ours in countries around the world.
Our current teaching responsibilities include:
- University of Toronto Scarborough, Cities Studies Workshop II (Course lead)
- Seneca College, The Art of Public Consultation (Course lead)
- University of Toronto, Political Science (Guest lecturer)
- Ryerson University, Masters in Urban Planning (host intern)
- York University, Masters in Environmental Science (host intern)