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Abstract

In the late 1970s, a small group of academics and former government officials began an initiative that led to the creation of a network of National Issues Forums (NIF) in 1981. NIF-style deliberation is based on the assumption that the greatest challenge in collective decision making is dealing with the tensions that result when many of the things most people hold dear are brought into conflict by the necessity to act on a problem. Public deliberation is a naturally occurring phenomenon that makes use of the human faculty for judgment. The most powerful insight from the NIF experiment has been the recognition that democracy depends on constant learning and that deliberation is a form of learning.

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