We’re always glad to find useful definitions of some of the key terms related to our work (occasionally, we’ll even add them to our little dictionary).

The term public engagement had been missing from the list, somehow. Here now is one take, courtesy of New York, NY-based Public Agenda: FAQs: All About Public Engagement

1. What is Public Engagement?

Public engagement is a process that brings people together to address issues of common importance, to solve shared problems, and to bring about positive social change. Effective public engagement invites average citizens to get involved in deliberation, dialogue and action on public issues that they care about. And, it helps leaders and decision makers better understand the perspectives, opinions, and concerns of citizens and stakeholders.

When done well, public engagement goes far beyond the “usual suspects” to include those members of the community whose voices have traditionally been left out of political and policy debates. Moreover it:

  • helps people weigh a variety of perspectives and listen to each other’s views;
  • builds common understanding, manages differences and establishes direction for moving ahead on tough issues;
  • builds trust and improves communication between the public and leaders;
  • creates new opportunities for citizens to become involved in public problem solving and decision making.

Very concise. Know of any other definitions you like? Please tell us in the comments.