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Creating a national citizen engagement process for energy policy

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  • Nick Pidgeon
  • Christina Demski
  • Catherine Butler
  • Karen Parkhill
  • Alexa Spence


Publication details

JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
DateE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2014
DatePublished (current) - 16 Sep 2014
Issue numberSupplement 4
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)13606-13613
Early online date15/09/14
Original languageEnglish


This paper examines some of the science communication challenges involved when designing and conducting public deliberation processes on issues of national importance. We take as our illustrative case study a recent research project investigating public values and attitudes toward future energy system change for the United Kingdom. National-level issues such as this are often particularly difficult to engage the public with because of their inherent complexity, derived from multiple interconnected elements and policy frames, extended scales of analysis, and different manifestations of uncertainty. With reference to the energy system project, we discuss ways of meeting a series of science communication challenges arising when engaging the public with national topics, including the need to articulate systems thinking and problem scale, to provide balanced information and policy framings in ways that open up spaces for reflection and deliberation, and the need for varied methods of facilitation and data synthesis that permit access to participants' broader values. Although resource intensive, national-level deliberation is possible and can produce useful insights both for participants and for science policy.

Bibliographical note

This is an author produced version of a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Energy system transitions, National dialogue, Public engagement


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