Definition:

Democratic professionals are those who see their work as contributing to a larger public good, but they recognize that to do this they must learn how to be responsive to the concerns, the know-how, and the capabilities of ordinary citizens. They co-produce knowledge with communities so that professional expertise can be fruitfully combined with local insight, and to collaborate with them to solve public problems.


Fast Facts:

Democratic Professionalism has deep respect for professional knowledge and practice, especially in a society that has become ever more complex, but searches for ways to combine the best of professional expertise with the lay knowledge and capabilities of ordinary citizens and communities, as well as reserving for them a major role in public judgment, problem solving practice, and coproduction.


Cases to Explore:

Architects: Architects are dedicated to the enfranchisement of citizens as participants in the design process and recognize the valuable role citizens play by informing the creation of place. Check out our in-depth profile on architects.

Disaster management professionals: Research and practice have come to stress the importance of social capital, community competence, and other community indicators in developing adaptive capacities and “disaster resilience,” so that communities can not only resist disaster but also “bounce back” and indeed “bounce forward” in recovery.

Forest professionals: Many urban and community foresters work collaboratively with environmental groups, nonprofits, and volunteer stewards, and cities such as New York have completed successful One Million Trees campaigns in collaboration among city agencies, the USFS, and nonprofits that raise money and engage volunteers. Check out our in-depth profile on urban and community forestry.

Planners: The planning profession has had a long and imaginative history of “beautiful cities,” but only with the urban revolts of the 1960s did planners more systematically begin to incorporate community participation directly into planning processes.


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