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Subverting and Expanding Who Designs and Who Decides: Pathways Towards Deliberative Democracy

June 2021 - May 2022

Below are the abstract and artifacts for my graduate thesis that explored two bottom-up strategies to expand deliberative democracy. This includes strategy development and implementation with Extinction Rebellion NYC Political Strategy Group and the design of deliberative democracy curriculum.


Is democracy in crisis, or just our practice of it? Normative representative democracy has seen a drastic rise in polarization and legislative gridlock, and the inability to address coalescing economic, social, and environmental crises have further fueled civil unrest. Is it the inability to find the right policies for society's challenges or is it the fault of the systems that dictate who and how we chart collective pathways forward?

A movement for participatory policy-making and deliberative democracy has gained momentum around the world from local to national levels of government through the use of a process called citizens’ assemblies (CA). While the process provides a space for equitable representation in policymaking, the establishment of the process goes through the traditional top-down policy pathway of garnering the political will of current political actors. But what would it look like if this movement came from the bottom-up?

This thesis will discuss the process of identifying and enacting two bottom-up design

interventions within the deliberative democracy movement: 1) Actions performed with

Extinction Rebellion’s Political Strategy group to establish a CA on Climate and Ecological Justice, and 2) the design of deliberative democracy curriculum (DDC) that illuminates pathways for students to experiment with systems of student government, including sortition (randomly selected representatives) and modes of participatory policymaking.

Deliberative democracy lesson plan trifold overview

Methods and strategy developed with Extinction Rebellion NYC's political strategy group

Extinction Rebellion NYC Citizens' Assembly leaflet


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