Pepperdine Offers Intensive Workshop on Public Engagement for Local Government

By:  Ashley Trim

In these times of endemic mistrust of government (and all institutions for that matter), local governments are finding that well planned and executed public engagement helps communities come together for civic improvement. Public engagement is not a fad, buzz phrase or government jargon. It is a movement that is gaining momentum from experiences throughout California and beyond.

But there is often a gap between how today’s local leaders were prepared in their undergraduate and graduate programs and what they actually need to lead in this “new normal.”

At a Pepperdine conference several years ago, a former Los Angeles-area planning director noted, “We (in the planning department) always put people up in front of the public who are the least prepared to be there.”

She was not suggesting that her planners had not been well trained in their policy or planning schools; rather, she was acknowledging that in some ways their very immersion in the field of planning had left them unprepared to explain technical issues in a nontechnical way or to collaborate with residents who may have priorities beyond that field of expertise.

That is why this summer the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership are teaming this summer to offer a first-of-its-kind Professional Certificate in Advanced Public Engagement for Local Government.

From July 28-30, mid-career professionals will be prepared to lead a publicly-engaged organization by gaining a deep understanding of the context, purpose, and best practices for engaging residents in the decisions that affect their lives and communities.

In workshops led by former city managers, thought leaders in civic engagement, and School of Public Policy faculty, this inaugural cohort will explore questions like:

  • How has public engagement been practiced in the past, and why is it so important in this moment in history?
  • What are the roles of local government, residents, community groups and the media in good engagement?
  • What are the state-of-the-art public engagement techniques and when where and how to use them?
  • How do leaders identify pitfalls, common errors and warning signs?
  • How can leaders reach out to traditionally disengaged members of the community?
  • What role does technology play in public engagement? Are there limits?

You can find out more here: publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/certificate-public engagement


Ashley Trim is the executive director for the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University. She overseas the Institute’s annual public engagement grant program, administers Davenport Institute trainings in civic engagement for local government officials, and writes and speaks on public engagement and transparency throughout California as well as at national conferences and convenings. ashley.trim@pepperdine.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *