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Observers professionally or academically deal with the subject of citizens’ assemblies and show an interest in organizing a citizens’ assembly. Observers may participate in the Assembly’s plenary sessions. However, Observers cannot be experts or representatives of interested parties. 


A request to become an Observer should be emailed to the Coordinating Team at Requests should be submitted at least one week prior to the relevant meeting and include an overview of one’s background and an explanation of interest. 

Chul Hyun Park, Ph.D.  

Chul Hyun Park, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Regarding his research, he has been interested in open and collaborative governance between government and nonstate stakeholders. Particularly, he has conducted research on emerging technologies that enable multiple actors across the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors to 10 effectively communicate and collaborate with one another to collectively resolve complex social problems like disasters and crises. His research areas broadly include government, open governance, emergency management, and program evaluation. His research work has been published in high quality peer-reviewed journals, including Government Information Quarterly, New Media & Society, International Review of Administrative Sciences, Public Performance & Management Review, and Evaluation and Program Planning. He received a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy from Arizona State University and a Master of Public Policy from Georgia State University. 

Robert C. Richards, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. 

Robert C. Richards, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. has been conducting research on participatory deliberative processes since 2011. He is a member of the Citizens’ Initiative Review research team, and participated in the National Science Foundation-funded onsite evaluation of the 2012 Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Reviews (Gastil et al., 2014; Knobloch et al., 2014). His study of the role of information and sense-making among participants in Citizens’ Initiative Reviews conducted from 2010-2016 was published in the refereed journal Policy and Politics in 2018. In 2020, he was a member—with Chul Hyun Park and John Rountree—of the research team that evaluated the online Oregon Citizen Assembly on COVID-19 Recovery. He is a co-investigator on the Participedia Project, an international research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which studies participatory deliberative processes around the world. On the Participedia Project, he serves on the digital-democracy committee with Professor Graham Smith of the University of Westminster, with whom he has co-authored research articles published in the journals Policy & Internet and the Journal of Public Deliberation. He is co-editing a special collection of the Journal of Deliberative Democracy on the topic of psychological processes in democratic deliberation. He was formerly an editorial-board member of the Journal of Public Deliberation. He is a member of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation and the National Communication Association Public Dialogue and Deliberation Division. He regularly organizes public deliberations at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, under the auspices of the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), in partnership with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. In 2020, these deliberative events have included a face-to-face public deliberation about food security in February 2020, and in October 2020, an online deliberation about political civility, both based on NIFI issue guides. At the Clinton School, he trains Master’s students in online and face-to-face facilitation, democratic deliberation, and the design of citizen-engagement processes. He received a Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences from Penn State University and J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. 

J.D. John Rountree, Ph.D. 

John Rountree, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown. He has published research on deliberation in Rhetoric & Public Affairs and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Communication Studies. Rountree has participated in multiple research teams observing and assessing deliberative events, including the 2016 Citizens’ Initiative Review in Oregon, the 2018 Citizens’ Initiative Review in Massachusetts, and the 2020 Oregon Citizens’ Assembly on COVID-19 Recovery. He is currently involved in a multi- 11-year study with Dr. Windy Lawrence and Dr. Sara Drury on using deliberative pedagogy to connect students across universities in political conversation. In his professional service, he is one of the book review editors for the Journal of Deliberative Democracy and a nominating committee member for the Public Dialogue and Deliberation Division of the National Communication Association. His experience also extends to helping organize and host deliberations as a faculty associate with the Center for Public Deliberation at UHD, most notably in co-hosting the regular Candidate Meet & Greet that puts students in conversation with local political leaders. For the most recent event (on 10/28/20), Rountree organized and ran the Zoom operations for a 2-hour deliberation with over 100 participants in several rotating breakout rooms. As a faculty member, he teaches courses in communication and democratic deliberation. 

Main Contact

Robert C. Richards, Jr., PhD, JD | he / him / his 
Assistant Professor, Communication 
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service 
1200 President Clinton Avenue 
Sturgis Hall, Room 114 
Little Rock, AR 72201 


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