Following are two interlinked exercises drawing on the readings for this week (World Economic Forum Global Agenda Outlook and the Mansell and Tremblay report for the UNESCO vision of the knowledge society) in order to design an inclusive participatory consultation process to address what members of the class decide are important challenges or opportunities for information professionals. This kind of engagement is one of the key areas for open government.
World Economic Forum – Global Agenda Outlook 2014
Top global trends, challenges and opportunities for information professionals
Overview: the purpose of this exercise is critical reflection on the trends and practice in strategic analysis from the perspective of an information professional. The outcomes of the group discussion will lead to the development of a list of topics to inform the evening’s second group exercise.
Step one: individual reflection (10 minutes)
Take some time to read through the following list of top 10 trends for 2014 according to the World Economic Forum report. Is it clear what is meant by each trend? If not, why not? Do you agree that these are the most important trends for 2014? Why or why not? Is there a different way of talking about each of these trends?
1. Rising societal tensions in the Middle East and North Africa
2. Widening income disparities
3. Persistent structural unemployment
4. Intensifying cyber threats
5. Inaction on climate change
6. The diminishing confidence in economic policies
7. A lack of values in leadership
8. The expanding middle class in Asia
9. The growing importance of megacities
10. The rapid spread of misinformation online
Step two: small group discussion (30 minutes)
Form a small group, perhaps with the people seated closest to you. Start by introducing yourselves unless everyone already knows each other. Then decide who will be responsible for reporting back to the class. Everyone should get practice doing this, so if you were the reporter last week please encourage others to take this on.
Questions for the group:
1. Does everyone understand the top 10 trends? If not, see if the group together can clarify or if there is consensus that a trend is not clear.
2. Does everyone agree that these are important social trends for 2014? Are there other important trends that are missing? Does everyone agree with the way the trends are stated or would you suggest changes?
3. Identify major social trends (whether on this list or others your group identifies) that present important challenges or opportunities for information professionals. Start by making a list, then prioritize according to which trends offer the greatest challenges or opportunities, then identify the challenges or opportunities and the actions that information professionals can take.
4. Review your list and prepare to report.
Step three: reporting to the whole class (10-15 minutes).
Participatory Public Consultation Process Planning Group Exercise
Overview: the purpose of this exercise is to practice planning the kind of participatory decision-making described in Mansell-Tremblay report as essential to development of the knowledge society..
Step one: self-selecting groups (5 – 10 minutes)
Select the social trend (from the World Economic Forum exercise) that you’d most like to work on for this exercise. Form groups. Each group should decide how they would like to work, keeping in mind that it can be very helpful to identify a facilitator or chair and a recorder for the group. The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to develop inclusive participatory exercises. Let’s practice what we’re planning – everyone in the group should consider what each of us can do to encourage everyone in the group to actively participate.
Step two: plan an inclusive public consultation process to address the selected trend (high-level overview draft; brief sketch) (30 mins.)
It may help to:
· Picture the people you’d like to engage in the conversation, perhaps starting with a few individuals and considering one or more groups that could easily be marginalized. Why should they participate (from your perspective, and theirs)?
· Consider timelines. Hint: if someone asks you your opinion about a complex topic with a short deadline just when you’re about to head out the door for a well-deserved vacation, how do you react?
· How will people find out about the consultation?
· How will you conduct the consultation process? Online? Using what tools?
· What would meaningful engagement look like?
Step three: reflect on your plan and decide how and what you’ll report back to the whole group. (5 mins.)
Step four: report back (10 – 15 mins.)