Community Deliberation to Build Local Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation: The Rural Climate Dialogues Program

  • C. Daniel MyersEmail author
  • Tara Ritter
  • Andrew Rockway
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Apathy and skepticism about climate change make mobilizing collective action for adaptation difficult in rural areas of the US. This paper evaluates the potential for deliberative public engagement to overcome these obstacles through a case study of the Rural Climate Dialogues (RCD) program. A Rural Climate Dialogue (RCD) convenes a demographically and politically representative group of residents for three days of deliberation about the local impacts of climate change and about how their community can adapt. Following the Citizens Jury model, participants spend three days hearing expert testimony, deliberating together to identify elements of their community that are threatened by climate change, and devising recommendations for individual and community actions that can enhance their community’s climate resilience. Drawing on case studies of RCDs in three Minnesota communities, this evaluation finds that participating in an RCD reduces skepticism about climate change and increases beliefs that the local community can and should take action. Further, these dialogues spur collective action by setting clear, public goals and building support for direct involvement from community leaders and public officials. This success suggests that deliberative public engagement can be a useful tool for adaptation planning in rural communities and other areas where apathy and skepticism are significant barriers.


Climate change adaptation Deliberation Public engagement Citizens Jury Rural climate adaptation 



The authors acknowledge the funding of the McKnight Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation in support of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Agriculture and Trade PolicyMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Jefferson CenterSt. PaulUSA

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