General Guide + Sample Issue Brief with Endnotes and Notations

The Issue Brief Format

Purpose:  To make audience aware of problem and provide practical steps for solution. Framing the issue to find stasis/achieve clash is fundamental to this effort.

  • Attention
    • Find a way to engage audience
    • provide relevance to audience’s lives
      • perhaps begin with anecdote, example, news story, current/recent event
  • Statement of need/Identify problem or issue
    • provide overview of problem
    • provide evidence that the problem is REAL
    • provide variety of supports
    • corroborate claims that might foment skepticism
    • Significance of need
      • Who is harmed? How much?
      • What is the larger societal cost?
  • Satisfy need/Identify steps that will alleviate problem
    • draw on solid claims and evidence used in stating the problem
    • offer examples that illustrate viability of suggested efforts
    • explain how steps will be effective
  • Visualization/Solvency – Prove that steps will actually solve the problem; look to future
    • explain what happens if steps are taken
      • use examples to prove solution(s) will work
        • OR
    • explain what happens if steps are not taken
      • use examples to prove solution(s) will work
        • OR
    • do both
  • Action
    • provide a path for audience participation in the subject

Sample Issue Brief with notes

Deliberation; Self and Peer Evaluations; Post-Deliberation Reports; One additional event

Your performances during the deliberation will be assessed based on the concepts we talked about in class. See this rubric for guidance – Speech, Facilitation, and Note Taking Rubric

Please use this form for your self and peer evaluations:

Peer Evaluation – Deliberation

Post-Deliberation Report

Here are the directions for the post-deliberation team report:

As a mini-group (overview, each approach, and summary), write a 900-1400 word post-deliberation report directed toward policymakers who are interested in understanding the public perspective on the issue.  Teams 1, 2, and 3 write on each of their specific approaches. After briefly presenting the issue at hand (overview team, perhaps a reworking of your introductory work, with your report audience in mind?) , your report should highlight the emergent themes and oft-cited values in the deliberation (in total or your approach), perhaps quoting directly from key moments of discussion or questionnaires as evidence. Your report should also note points of consensus and discuss tensions or unresolved issues. The report should make policy recommendations based on the consensus of the participants, although it may also recommend further research for some parts of the issue if only a tentative recommendation can be reached. Reports should be compiled into one document, professionally written, visually appealing and formatted well (subtitles could be useful), and should include a Works Cited page or pages.

Take a look at the attached sample.  Think about the organization.  You’ll want an executive summary of the deliberation and the questionnaire responses as well as a more specific summary of the discussion that took place during each approach.  There are some categories that might be useful to think about as you reflect on the responses given by participants.  How would you organize the comments?  What themes emerge that would allow for organizational strategies?  What values seem to underpin the participants’ statements?

As a team decide who the point person(s) should be to pull this all together.


  • On February ____ 2018, a forum on the topic of_________________ was held in State College Pennsylvania. There is urgency to this topic because…..

Executive Summary

  • Articulation of overall themes in the deliberation, broad concerns, points of consensus and tensions

Approach 1, 2, 3

  • Title, explanation of approach and its broad considerations.
  • Nature of discussion
  • Themes and values that emerged
  • Any participant examples that help create an understanding of how themes and values were manifested/derived.

Survey Data

Recommendations for Action or Further Research

Excellent Post-Deliberation Report Example: Post-Deliberation Report

Post-Deliberation Report Rubric

Peer Evaluations and Post-Deliberation Reports due by the start of class March 15th on Canvas.


Attend one additional deliberation event

  • Failure to participate in another event will result in a 10% deduction in final grade for this assignment.


Deliberation Attendance form

Deliberation Packet Checklist

As you’re putting your packets together, be sure they contain the following:

Introduction/Issue Overview

  • This section defines the context for the deliberation. In the introduction, aim for defining a desirable outcome (ie affordable healthcare for everyone, elimination of gun deaths).
  • Define the conditions as they are and make a case for wanting those conditions to change.
  • Articulate the challenges/obstacles to achieving the desired outcome.
  • Provide visuals that enhance easy understanding of complex ideas/numbers.


  • Define the problem relative to your approach, highlighting shortcomings in the system as it currently exists in this way.
  • Describe your approach, highlighting the key players who would be responsible for implementation.
  • Identify and explain the direct benefits of your approach; who are the people who would see positive outcomes?
  • Identify and explain the direct costs and concerns of your approach; are there people who would be negatively affected?
  • Provide visuals that enhance easy understanding of complex ideas/numbers.
  • Provide an easy to read chart of actions, benefits, and tradeoffs.

Summary Team

  • Receive information/content from all the approaches.
  • Provide a brief summary of the problem/issue and compile their information into a “menu” or summary that could be referred to easily.
  • Create survey for deliberation participants.
  • Devise promotional strategies; save emails, links, documents for submission.

Have a plan for making 20 copies of your deliberation packets and surveys for your deliberation event.


Types of Problems

Identifying Problem Types

(courtesy Dr. Jessica O’Hara)

Three Problem Types

Type 1 Problems (Technical Problems)

  • Agreement on definition of problem, agreement of potential available solutions

Type 2 Problems (Value Problems)

  • Agreement on definition of problem, no agreement on potential options

Type 3 Problems (“Wicked” or Intractable Problems)

  • No agreement on definition of problem or options


Type 1

  • “How” questions
  • Experts can solve
  • Limited consideration of values
  • Usually limited or no participation/collaboration required
  • Ex: Fastest route to Pittsburgh, how to solve differential equation, how to fix a broken arm, how to best get stain out of a rug, how to create a more efficient light bulb


Type 2

  • Value dimensions make “reasonable solution” less apparent
  • Usually agreement on the definition of the problem, but not on available solutions
  • Expertise/information is insufficient
  • Value hierarchies mean that people must live with or implement the solutions
  • Evoke emotions and sometimes stubbornness
  • Ex: Gen ed reform


Challenges with Type 2 Problems

  1. Many are both technical and value driven, but…
  2. People tend to dismiss or not recognize value problems or value components

ex: Reducing teen pregnancy

ex: Keystone XL pipeline

ex: “Combat” drugs: enforcement is “out there” rather than in families, neighborhoods, schools, etc.  Someone else’s problem.  (It’s a Type 3 problem, but it illustrates the pt)


Type 3

  • Multiple Stakeholders
  • Overlapping jurisdictions
  • Powerful moral dimensions
  • Deep histories
  1. People come up with different solutions (from their worldview) instead of defining the problem
    1. Ex: Poverty, Climate Change, Abortion, Gun Policy
    2. Ex: School Shootings (regulation, mental health, or on-site defense/responses, but not: responsibility training, resources for those in distress)
  2. No one (alone) actually has sufficient power to address/solve
  3. No discipline or mental model can fully explain
  4. Often contested technical information (ex: value of higher ed degree, climate change)


Features of Public Issues (Jeffrey Luke)

(Type 2 and Type 3)

They are systemic (multiple causation, systemic constraints, nonsummative)

  1. Public Issues Cross Traditional Boundaries
  • Organizations/jurisdictions
  • Functions
  • Time periods/generational perspectives
  1. Public Issues are Socially Constructed
  • Differing values, beliefs, cultural traditions, worldviews
  • Strategies based on person’s perception about cause(s) and effect(s)
  • Scientific/technical data necessary but not sufficient
  1. No Optimal Solution
  • Intractable; never entirely solved
  • Merely technical remedy is ineffective; requires deeper systemic change

Deliberation Teams

9:05 Class

Wednesday, 2/20 – 3-5pm – Webster’s

Nicole, Leah, Larsen, Grace, Mackenzie, Kody, Colin, Angelica, Hudson


Saturday, 2/23 – 3-5pm – Webster’s

Blake T., Blake G., Casey, Cole, Vanessa, Julia, Stepan, Ashley, Ran



11:15 Class

Friday, 2/22 – 3-5pm – Webster’s

Olivia, Bella, Mikey, Piper, Becky, Jack, Danielle, Gabriela, Kara, Sheryll, Alyssa, Kerry


Saturday, 2/23 – 1-3pm – Webster’s

Connor, Jessie, Kadambari, Emily, Nicci, Lia, Eddy, Lucia, Steve, Dan, Kaitlyn, Josie

The Process of Topic Selection and Approach Consideration

  1. Review issues of interest
    • Is it a Type 2 problem?
  2. Work through your understanding of the issue.  Determine where stasis is lost. 
  3. Determine what values are at odds? What values cause the loss of stasis?
  4. What is the big question guiding the deliberation? It should begin with “What do we do…?” or “How can we…?”
  5. Develop approaches, lenses with which to address the issue.