The Constitution Unit


Taking a Deliberative Approach to Complexity

23 January 2018

This seminar, held in Edinburgh, will examine what we can learn from the experience of holding a Citizens' Assembly about Brexit and consider the role of participatory processes like this in current decision-making in Scotland. 

The Citizens' Assembly on Brexit took place over two weekends in September 2017, bringing people together and broadly representing the electorate of the United Kingdom. It allowed members to engage in detailed, reflective and informed discussions about what the UK's post-Brexit relations with the European Union should be. The project is led by the Constitution Unit at University College London.

In this seminar, we will consider the lessons that can be learnt from holding such a Citizens' Assembly and consider how such participatory processes can be built into current decision-making in Scotland. What are the benefits of holding a citizens initiative like this? What are the challenges? The seminar will focus particularly on the process, planning, delivery and impact of Citizens' Assemblies.

The seminar will include initial presentations from the team that led and participated in the Citizens' Assembly, before then broadening out discussion among a panel to identify key strengths and challenges.

Speakers include: 

  • Prof Alan Renwick, Deputy Director at the UCL Constitution Unit
  • Kaela Scott, Head of Democratic Innovation, Involve 
  • James Mitchell, Director, Academy of Government
  • ​​​​​​​Oliver Escobar, Co-Director at What Works Scotland ​​​​​​​

Chair: Doreen Grove from the Scottish Government

This event was sponsored by What Works Scotland, the UK Politics Network and the Academy of Government, all at the University of Edinburgh.