The challenge: How do we translate the diversity of public values and opinions into a policy position that most people are able to accept?
The PPP (Geneforum) process stays out of interest group advocacy, party politics, and lobbying. Geneforum, using the partnership approach, doesn’t act as provocateur, or as a social critic—that’s the “Protest Model.” Geneforum follows a rational model in our citizen deliberations and in front of policy makers.
Technology policy decisions should not be made by bureaucratic fiat. The role of the expert is clear and necessary in describing what is possible, but cannot and should not be expected to present the broad values that inform a just democracy. People must decide for themselves.
In the PPP process, the values of policy makers, experts and citizens all have equal weight in the policy process. As a result, more efficient policy occurs downstream.
The PPP community meetings do not offer “know how” information. We do offer important “know-why” information to the policy making endeavor, along with input from technical experts, advocates, lobbyists, and organized civic groups. Participants will offer stories as examples of outcomes drawn from, for example, an issue like DTC genetic testing; genetic privacy; biobanking; or whole genome sequencing which they fear or hope for.
There are four broad goals of Geneforum’s public participation/engagement process:
- Education: To increase the capacity of citizens to understand the impact and relevance of genetics to their lives. Scientific facts are the foundation by which Geneforum explains and conveys these issues to the general public.
- Information Transfer: To increase public participation. Geneforum promotes dialogue with the public using techniques that include an interactive Web site, partnerships with the media, public forums, community presentations, academic partnerships, and research. As a result, citizens are better able to understand, influence public policy and make informed decisions about the complex social and ethical dimensions surrounding genetic research and biotechnology.
- Public Consultation: To inform key stakeholders through the measurement and monitoring of public values. Using its online and offline resources, Geneforum obtains and transmits values held by the public to policy makers, scientists, and healthcare practitioners.
- Building Community: Acting together or building bonds of solidarity with one another in pursuit of our common good, the most difficult, most frequently omitted and the most important dimension for the full exercise of democracy.