A project of The American Assembly at Columbia University


‘Large Scale Conversations’ experiments with deliberation and consensus building on scales beyond traditional face-to-face methods.  It is based on the recognition that if we want a better online public sphere, we have to build it.   Much of this work is organized around the ‘Civic Assembly’ model, which involves collaboration with local media organizations to explore community needs and goals.

The Next Louisville: Civic Assembly

The Next Louisville: Civic Assembly Report

In February 2020, The American Assembly and Louisville Public Media held Polis conversation about how to make Louisville a better city in which to work and live. Over three weeks, 1398 people submitted nearly 900 statements and cast nearly 125,000 votes, on issues ranging from education to climate change to public health.

The Global Congress Polis
The Fifth Global Congress Report

In September 2018, we invited all past and present participants in the Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest into a  Polis conversation–a novel online survey and discussion process in which participants make and respond to each others’ statements.  Over a period of 2 weeks, 335 academics, activists, and practitioners joined this process of outlining and discussing the community’s priorities.

The Bowling Green Civic Assembly
The Bowling Green Report

In February 2018, the residents of the City of Bowling Green and surrounding Warren County, Kentucky, participated in a pilot ‘Civic Assembly’ hosted by The American Assembly and The Bowling Green Daily News.  The first stage was an  was a ‘virtual town hall’ driven by Pol.is–a novel survey tool in which participants respond to statements made by each other. Through the commenting and voting process, the process painted a picture of community concerns and the lines of agreement and disagreement that define them.  These results were then discussed face-to-face, via a town hall and community workshop.