Public Engagement Gone Wild? Taming Tactics!


  • Upon completion, participants will be able to design a public engagement process that employs best practices when facing adversarial groups or individuals
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to manage and mitigate confrontation that is encountered during public involvement exercises constructively
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to protect agencies and other planning project proponents from embarrassment and costly delays caused by disruptive participants


Public discourse in recent years has shifted dramatically for reasons that include the organizational impacts of social media, the growing divide between income groups, the changing economy, the polarizing political tensions, and the dehumanization of the opposition. The net result is an environment where planners are faced with the challenge of being peace-makers not just facilitators to gain consensus. Meanwhile, many elected officials are observing our effectiveness as the media is feeding on the drama rather than the substance associated with the planning process. These challenges require a more thoughtful approach to conflict resolution, community engagement, and media relations and place an increased importance on the careful selection of our strategy, words and techniques. Designing community engagement programs that foster constructive and civil dialog has arguably never been more difficult. This course examines why some processes are more successful than others, identifies focused engagement strategies, identifies an action plan for the APA. Explore the creation of best practices intended to be shared with other planning practitioners.