Author Biography

Ann Mongoven (Michigan State University) directed the BioTrust regional deliberative processes and was a co-investigator of the supporting NICHD grant. She wrote sections of the paper on the case study, and edited sections on deliberative theory and literature.

Danielle Lake (Grand Valley State University) co-facilitated one of the regional deliberative groups and contributed to post-deliberation evaluation. She wrote sections of the paper on deliberative theory and literature, and edited sections on the case study.

Jodyn Platt (University of Michigan Medical School) structurally integrated diverse modes of public engagement for the umbrella research grant. She provided project management throughout the deliberations, and editorial consultancy on the writing of the paper.

Sharon Kardia (University of Michigan School of Public Health) is the principal investigator of the NICHD grant, "Linking Community Engagement Research to Public Health Biobank Practice"(5-R01-HD-067264-02).


Much literature on deliberation is derived from ideal theory. However, deliberations are inevitably non-ideal in two ways: (1) many deliberative ideals are in tension with each other; and 2) intended balancing of ideals cannot be attained perfectly amidst the messiness of real-world recruitment and conversation. This essay explores both kinds of non-ideality in respect to a case study: the 2011 community deliberative processes on a state public health “biobank,” the Michigan BioTrust for Health. We follow two recommendations from major contemporary theorists of deliberation: to be transparent about how competing deliberative goals are negotiated in deliberative design; and to publicize case studies that report associated struggles and results. We present our “hybrid design” that sought to negotiate tensions within three families of deliberative goals: goals of representation and inclusion; goals of discourse-framing; and goals of political impact. We offer deliberative facilitators tentative suggestions based on this case study, concluding deliberations need not be “ideal” to be transformative.