Policy Outcomes

The PPP process can deliver three possible outcomes to policy makers:

  1. Confirm the policy maker's previously held assumptions;
  2. Warn policy makers about areas of the proposed policy which may be sensitive or unacceptable to the community;
  3. Generate an insight (sometimes from a single individual) which will give a new (and unexpected) direction to the policy discussion and, ultimately, the policy, itself.

The University of Michigan, Genetics Public Policy Center, Genetic Alliance for example—in the mode of advocacy groups mobilized around a cause—use a (top-down) "Recitation Model" with an emphasis on public engagement mobilized to bring a group of (demographically non-representative) individuals (lay, experts, policy makers, etc.) together into a guided-focus group discussion designed to deliver some important ideas to policy makers. This process captures what people bring into the room with them (interest, knowledge, etc.). A small amount of directed education also takes place.

The PPP process leads to a more educated policy maker about technical issues and public values. The PPP process also leads to ongoing public education (improved science literacy), and ultimately to a more efficient science and technology policymaking process.

Is the world mired in what might be called a "democratic recession?" US policy makers should view democracy not just as a "right," but also as a "choice." A functioning democracy requires a society-wide agreement on issues of national importance (e.g., genetic discrimination, human biobanks and genetic research databases, genetic enhancement, genetic testing, genome-wide screening) designed to provide checks and balances that disperse political power and protect the rights of minorities.

Scientists tend to treat communication as an after-thought. They’re often not working with social scientists, industry, or organized civic groups to build a channel to the public.

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