Democracy made Athens a dynamic, creative force 2500 years ago. Even then, however, democracy was fragile, sometimes stupid, and short-lived. Plato held it in low esteem and Aristotle likened it to “mob rule.”
Why, then, do we want to create 21st Century Agoras. What we want to create are communities energized by vibrant participative democracy. In our Information Age as old hierarchies prove dysfunctional, it is imperative that human communities have flexible ways to tap their wisdom and power. We do not believe that unstructured discussion on the Athenian model is adequate for dealing with the complexities of the Information Age. It was not adequate even for the simpler (by an order of magnitude as determined by a metric called Situational Complexity Index) situations of that bygone age.
The Information Age challenges us to make participative democracy a liberating force in the world today. Research and proven methodology, aided by networked computing, has resolved at least one basic dilemma of democracy:
How can we hear perspectives of all the stakeholders, make collective sense of them, and reach decisions and act on pressing issues?
The approach that overcomes this dilemma and multiple other hindrances to dialogic democracy is called the Structured Dialogic Design (SDD). The Agoras Institute convenes these dialogues as Co-Laboratories of Democracy. This process is a fusion of the theory of Generic Design Science and the consultative practice of Interactive Management, both developed over the last 30 years by Dr. John Warfield and our founder, Aleco Christakis.
Mission, Goal, Vision and Values
The Institute for Local Government promotes good government at the local level with practical, impartial and easy-to-use resources for California communities.
The Institute’s goal is to be the leading provider of information that enables local officials and their communities to make good decisions.
The Institute envisions a future in California in which:
People value their local public institutions.
Local agencies effectively deliver public services.
All segments of the community are appropriately engaged in key public decisions.
Decision-makers make informed policy choices based on their best sense of the public’s interest.