Public Engagement Training

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3-Day Training Registration

Register for the 3-day training or just one module!

Module One
Powerful, Productive, and Prudent: A New Paradigm for Public Engagement + Technology and Civic Engagement.
(See course descriptions below.)
Module Two
Designing Civic Engagement Processes
(See course description below.)
Module Three
Dealing with Difficult Civic Topics and Stakeholders
(See course description below.)
Questions? Email the Institute at

Facilitating Civic Dialogue and Consensus

Are you often in a position where you’re making decisions that affect large populations?  Do you frequently feel political pressure from multiple directions?  Do you feel as if you are often unsure of what the public wants, or perhaps you only hear from the same, small group of citizens?  This seminar will help you develop the knowledge, tools, and skill sets to enrich your engagement with the public.  You’ll learn how to identify stakeholders and create customized strategies for engaging them; how to facilitate difficult conversations involving competing viewpoints; and how to bring an array of stakeholders to consensus.  You will also examine some of the most cutting-edge technology for public engagement. Read more about course modules and event details below.

Appropriate Audiences
Course Modules

 A New Paradigm for Public Engagement
Have you had your fill of tense, stressful public meetings where you feel as if you are wearing a target around you?  Do you feel as if the public does not understand you and you do not fully understand them?  Are you looking for ways to change the conversation with the public?  This seminar is designed to help you and your organization significantly alter the way in which you interact with the public—to make those interactions more useful to your work, more enjoyable, and more beneficial.  You will examine concrete case studies from around the country and the world and learn new principles and concepts that will help you create a healthier dynamic in your ongoing interactions with the public. (Half-day training)

Designing Civic Engagement Processes
Have you ever found yourself working on a project that could affect thousands, if not millions of people, and you cannot figure out how to gauge how that affected public feels?  Have you experimented with online surveys or raucous public meetings that do not fully yield the information you need to perform your task? This seminar will help you develop a plan for understanding the public you are trying to serve, a step-by-step conversation that will get you a clear sense of their views, interests, and desires.  You will learn innovative tools for engaging the public and how to piece those tools together into a process that will produce the results you want. (One-day training)

Dealing with Difficult Civic Topics and Stakeholders


Are you often faced with decisions that will affect large populations with competing points of view?  Do you find it challenging to make decisions that will satisfy those diverse audiences?  In this seminar, you will examine the art and science behind finding consensus, exploring methods, techniques, and strategies to address challenging public issues.  You will analyze contemporary public issues; try your hand at resolving them; and develop the skills needed to manage the plethora of moving pieces at play in a civic matter.  In turn, you will help revolutionize civic discourse and produce more sustainable resolutions to public conflicts. (One-day training)

Technology and Civic Engagement


Do you find it difficult to connect effectively and efficiently with a large audience?  Does it seem overwhelming to find ways to communicate with thousands of people who might be affected by a decision you are charged with making or helping to make?  A wide array of technological tools plays a crucial role in helping reach large audiences in cost-effective and meaningful ways, particularly when those populations find it difficult or unappealing to attend in-person meetings. This seminar will help you examine the many ways in which technology can help you engage large populations and better understand their interests and viewpoints, in order to gain a better sense of your audience as a whole. (Half-day seminar)

Public Engagement Consulting

The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life will offer consultation to clients seeking to produce powerful, proactive, productive, and prudent public engagement events and processes. 
This work will include:
- Statewide engagement processes
- Engagement process design and implementation for cities, counties, and agencies
- Facilitation/mediation of stakeholder groups
- Assistance with Youth Councils
- Facilitation training for citizens (establishing a corps of community facilitators)
For more information about public engagement consulting, please contact senior fellow Larry Schooler at 512-387-4876.
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Continuing Education Credits

Are you looking for continuing education opportunities as a planner?  The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life will be offering a public engagement training course geared towards the planning community with Continuing Education Credits available to help with your Certification Maintenance needs as an AICP.  Dates will be announced shortly. If you would like more information, contact Larry Schooler at 512-387-4876.

Event Details

The February Public Engagement Training was SOLD OUT. Check back for more dates to be announced. Questions? Email

3-day Training Pricing:

"Early early bird" pricing through Jan. 2

$525 / participant

"Early bird" pricing through Jan. 30

$625 / participant

Regular pricing through Feb. 25

$750 / participant

Individual Modules (one-day) Pricing: 

"Early early bird" pricing through Jan. 2

$225 / participant

"Early bird" pricing through Jan. 30

$275 / participant

Regular pricing through Feb. 25

$325 / participant

Dates/Times: TBA

Location: The University of Texas at Austin, Belo Center for New Media

Parking: Included in your registration fee. Directions will be shared with registered participants via email.

Lodging: If you will need lodging, here is a list of quality hotels conveniently located near the UT Austin campus.

Questions about event logistics? Contact the Institute at




Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life senior fellow Larry Schooler will lead this initiative for the Institute. Larry is a mediator, facilitator, and community engagement consultant for the City of Austin and outside clients and the immediate past president of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2).  His work has been recognized as best practice by several organizations, including the National League of Cities and the German Marshall Fund.

The following organizations have participated in our Public Engagement Trainings:

Austin Energy

Austin ISD - Communications and Community Engagement

Austin Resource Recovery

Capital Metro

Central Health

City and County of Denver

City of Austin - Austin Energy

City of Austin - Code Department

City of Austin - Economic Development Department

City of Austin - Watershed Protection

City of Brownsville

City of Cape Girardeau, Missouri

City of Dubuque

City of Fort Worth

City of Naperville

City of New Braunfels

City of Oakland Park

City of Plano

Community Advancement Network

Design Workshop

Four15 Consulting

Front Steps

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

Hahn Public Communications

Harris County Flood Control District

Humane Society of New Braunfels

Institute for Participatory Management and Planning

National Conference of State Legislatures

Neighborhood Centers Inc.

Oak Hill Elementary PTA

Rocky View County

Salt Lake City Corp.

Somers-Jaramillo & Associates

Texas Humane Legislation Network

Texas Impact

TxDOT - Office of Public Involvement