Dr Tatjana Buklijas, Kristiann Allen and Dr Anne Bardsley, together with Dr Jacquie Bay (Liggins Institute) and Dr Matire Harwood (School of Population Health), have been awarded a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Endeavour Fund Smart Ideas grant.
The project will develop and test a novel ‘complex conversations laboratory’ based on deliberative democracy models, such as citizen panels and hybrid forums used successfully internationally, but adapted for New Zealand society & co-created with Māori and other stakeholders.
Other collaborators include Associate Professor Mānuka Hēnare (UoA), Dr Charles Royal (Te Papa Wellington), Sir Peter Gluckman, Dr Wendy Saunders (GNS), Professor Ken Hughey (Chief Science Advisor, DOC), and Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward (University of Canterbury). International collaborators include Professors Marc Saner (Ottawa) and Matthias Kaiser (Bergen).
In the coming decades, New Zealand will face major challenges and transitions that will have significant social and economic impact. Policy decisions on how to deal with these challenges will often be contentious. The transition to a low carbon economy and the digital transformation will confront different perceptions of risk and precaution with regard to the use of novel science and technology. It will also challenge firmly held beliefs and differing world views. Political institutions do not have a good record of public discussions around novel and potentially contentious technologies. The challenges are compounded in the global atmosphere of decreasing trust and growth of antidemocratic movements. Participatory approaches similar to those embedded in the Resource Management Act have been shown to be both inequitable and too rigid for the fast moving world. Internationally, there is a recognition that models of democratic decision-making based on open and ongoing dialogue – termed “deliberative democracy” – are needed. Our team consisting of academics (in science, humanities, education), policy specialists and Māori researchers, with experience and interest in the processes of engagement, proposes to develop and test a novel, New Zealand adapted model to assist mutual understanding and help move forward in public policy issues involving emerging technologies of high potential social and economic consequence. We will draw on Kaupapa and Mātauranga Māori, participatory and deliberative democracy research and practical experiences in New Zealand and overseas, and test the model using scenarios on (1) life science technology related to climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture and (2) digital technology and data use in public policy. Our model is expected to have benefits ranging from increased Māori participation; improved policy and governance process; and economic benefits.