Students’ Dialogue on Democratic Engagement


Thank you to everyone who participated in the Students’ Dialogue on Democratic Engagement (‘Dialgoue’). The ideas shared by participants are being reviewed across UVic for application towards teaching, learning and increasing student involvement on matters of importance on and off campus.

“The best part was the awakened sense of being able to make a difference in some way. Discussing big ideas with such a diverse crowd makes me hopeful that positive changes can happen.”  

Patrick Montgomery, undergraduate student, social sciences. 


In the fall of 2020, UVic and The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and Government House partnered to engage students on how to encourage civility in public discourse and youth engagement in democracy. We saw this as an ideal opportunity to pilot the use of a new technique for involving students in university decision-making: deliberative mini-publics. These forums are unique in that they use civic lotteries to bring together a descriptively representative group of the population who can then learn and deliberate together about a specific topic.

UVic’s First Civic Lottery

To encourage participation from a wide group of individuals, including students who may not typically engage in more traditional consultation, an invitation was sent directly to thousands of randomly selected students, in hopes of learning from their unique perspectives and experiences.

Interested students completed a short, anonymous survey which gathered demographic data from applicants. A civic lottery centred on the use of stratified random selection was then used to select participants based on the diversity of the broader population of UVic students which brought together the cohort. 

Overview of the Sessions

Over four virtual evening forums, participants met to learn and deliberate about civil political discourse and democratic engagement. The first and third sessions involved presentations by three guest speakers followed by brief small-group discussions among participants, and a Q&A. The second and fourth sessions prioritized small-group discussions among participants, advancing the Dialogue towards the final outcomes and recommendations.


Most participants expressed a degree of optimism around how the Students’ Dialogue has contributed to their understanding of civil discourse and democratic engagement, and armed them with knowledge and inspiration to become more active and engaged citizens in their communities and among their peers.

The Dialogue revealed new opportunities for UVic to meaningful engage students and community. The deliberative engagement approach successfully helped invite and involve a group representative of the diverse fabric of the UVic. The time dedicated to learning and deliberation provided the space for participants to gain and share insight to shape their opinions and input.

Potential partners have already expressed interest in collaborating with UVic on the next deliberative mini-public, with plans for a launch later this year. Keep an eye out, and we will release more details as soon as they are available.
The report and findings will be shared broadly across campus throughout the spring and summer months to explore or application to teaching, learning and increasing student participation in and outside the classroom.

 If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact