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Citizen Panels and Health Policy

12 September 2022, 9:45 am6:00 pm

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Citizen panels are a diverse group of randomly selected citizens that deliberate together in order to reach decisions. This is meant to give power to people from diverse backgrounds who do not usually influence decisions. This workshop will discuss the ethical desirability, feasibility and practical application of using citizens’ panels to inform decision-making on fraught issues relating to the emergency policy making, such as pandemic and future health crises. Speakers will discuss the ethical foundations of citizens’ panels, as well as different methods of deliberation and formation of citizen-panels that would best allow inclusive decision making, and specifically in health and COVID-19 related issues.

This question is timely and important. Citizens’ panels have featured in public decision-making during the pandemic in a number of countries and regions. Examples are the London COVID-19 panel commissioned by the NHS, the West Midlands Recovery Panel, and the French panel on vaccination policy. A number of philosophers and health policy experts have advocated the use of such panels as a platform for including citizens in the decision making process. This reasoning has been taken up by the WHO and OECD in their advice on how to make decisions regarding social and movement measures in the pandemic (WHO/OECD 2020). But such panels also have faced strong criticism. They are often too small to be fully representative, the participants may be subject to manipulation by the organisers, and they lack mechanisms to ensure accountability or legitimate authority. This workshop will bring together academics and policy-makers involved in the use of citizens’ panels, including organizations responsible for running citizens’ panels such as Basis Social, Nuffield Council and Sortition Foundation, as well as speakers with links to the World Bank, the WHO, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 


Date: Monday, 12 September 2022
Place: LSE New Academic Building (NAB 1.14), 54 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ

9:45am – Reception

10:00am – 1:30pm – Session 1

10:00am – 10:50am – “Deliberation and Wisdom of the Crowds”.
Kai Spiekermann, Department of Government (LSE)

11:00am – 11:50am – “Open and inclusive: Fair processes for financing Universal Health Coverage”
Alex Voorhoeve, Department of Philosophy Logic and Scientific Method (LSE)
Joachim Wehner, Department of Government (LSE)
Elina Dale, Norwegian Institute of Public Health/University of Bergen
Unni Gopinnathan, Norwegian Institute of Public Health/University of Bergen

12:00pm – 12:50pm –  “Debating proportionality at the edge of sentience”
Jonathan Birch, Department of Philosophy Logic and Scientific Method (LSE)

1:00 – 2:30pm – Lunch 

2:30 – 6:00 pm – Session 2

2:30pm – 3:20pm – “Improving the representativeness of randomly selected committees”
Shira Ahissar, Department of Philosophy Logic and Scientific Method (LSE)

3:30pm – 4:20pm – “Next frontiers for citizen panels: governance, institutionalization, accountability”
Hélène Landemore, Yale University

4:30pm – 5:00pm – Afternoon tea

5:00pm – 6:00pm – Roundtable discussion: The experience of organizing and running citizen panels
Darren Bhattachary, Basis Social
Peter Mills,  UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics
Nick Gill, Sortition Foundation and The Open University

End of the event






Shira Ahissar

Shira Ahissar is a PhD student in philosophy at the LSE. Her research interests include political philosophy, ethics, social choice theory and philosophy of language. She is currently focusing on democratic theory, ethics of technology and AI methods that could be used to improve governments’ decision-making as well as the understanding of the long term consequences of such decisions. She also holds an MA degree in philosophy, obtained in a direct-to-MA Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary program at Tel Aviv University.

Darren Bhattachary

Darren Bhattachary is the CEO of Basis Social. Basis Social is a research agency that addresses social issues. They have a team of senior researchers and innovators experienced in working across public policy and commercial research, behavior change, service design, strategic communications and public affairs. Basis Social have organized various citizen-panels, including one on ‘Genome Editing of Farmed Animals: A Public Dialogue’. They conduct research and workshops on various social issues, such as data inclusivity in the UK and increasing acceptability of home energy efficiency.

Jonathan Birch

Jonathan Birch is an Associate Professor in LSE’s Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, specializing in the philosophy of the biological sciences. He is working on evolution of social behaviour, the evolution of norms, animal sentience, and the relation between sentience and welfare. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) on the Foundations of Animal Sentience project and mainly works on (i) animal sentience, cognition and welfare and (ii) the evolution of altruism and social behaviour. Birch is the author of The Philosophy of Social Evolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, and has recently participated in a citizen panel organised by the Nuffield Council on ‘Genome editing and farmed animal breeding: social and ethical issues’.

Elina Dale

Elina Dale is a Senior Advisor at Norwegian Institute of Public Health. She is a health financing specialist with ten years of experience in design and implementation of health system strengthening reforms, policy analysis, and research in global health. Dale joined WHO, Geneva in 2014 as a Technical Officer in Health Financing Policy Unit where she works primarily on fiscal space for health, provider payment methods, and budget reforms. Prior to joining WHO, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where she also completed her PhD. Prior to starting her PhD, Elina worked at the Health Policy Analysis Unit under the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic, focusing on financial management issues. She is also co-author of new World Bank report on fair processes for health financing.

Nick Gill

Nick Gill is a mathematician who works part-time for the Sortition Foundation and part-time as a lecturer in pure mathematics at The Open University. Prior to joining the Sortition Foundation Nick spent 20 years in academia where he taught and did research in group theory. The Sortition Foundation is a not-for-profit social enterprise whose mission is to promote the empowered use of citizens’ assemblies, and the like, to strengthen our democracy.

Unni Gopinnathan

Unni Gopinathan is a public health physician and senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. His current projects focus on institutions and processes that support the generation and use of evidence to inform health policy decisions, and the relationship between civil society involvement and evidence use during decision-making for universal health coverage. He has previously worked for the University of Oslo, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). He received his MD and PhD from the University of Oslo and was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar and Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice at Harvard Medical School in 2018/19. He is a co-author of a new World Bank publication on fair processes in health financing.

Hélène Landemore 

Hélène Landemore is a Professor of Political Science at Yale. Her research and teaching interests include democratic theory, political epistemology, theories of justice, the philosophy of social sciences (particularly economics), constitutional processes and theories, and workplace democracy. Landemore’s research has been featured in the New York Times, the Boston ReviewSlate, the Washington PostL’HumanitéLe Monde, and recently the New Yorker. Further, she advised the Parliament of Finland on a crowdsourced policy-making reform in 2013 and the French Parliament on inclusive decision-making in 2018. She is currently serving as expert consultant for the French government on a committee evaluating the CESE (Economic, Social and Environmental Council)’s experimentation with randomly selected citizens.

Peter Mills

Peter Mills is Assistant Director at the UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent body that examines and reports on ethical issues in biology and medicine. He directs the council’s work programme on genome editing. He has previously held positions at the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the UK Department of Health and, at various times, has been head of the Human Genetics Commission Secretariat, a UK representative on the Council of Europe Bioethics Committee (DH-BIO) and a delegate to the UNESCO Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee.

Kai Spiekermann

Kai Spiekermann is Professor of Political Philosophy and the Doctoral Programme Director in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics. Among his research interests are normative and positive political theory, philosophy of the social sciences, social epistemology and environmental change. He is particularly interested in applying formal methods, computational simulations, and experiments to problems in political philosophy. His recent publications have focused on mechanisms of norm avoidance, strategic ignorance and moral knowledge, on information aggregation, jury theorems and epistemic democracy, and on reductionism and holism in the social sciences. He is the co-author of the book An Epistemic Theory of Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Alex Voorhoeve

Alex Voorhoeve is a Professor in and the head of the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He studied economics and philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Cambridge University, and UCL. He joined the LSE in 2004 and has worked here ever since, though he has held visiting positions at Harvard (2008-09), Princeton (2012-13) and the National Institutes of Health, U.S. (2016-17). His research covers decision theory, moral psychology, and the theory and practice of fair distribution, with particular application to the allocation of resources for health. He has served on the WHO Consultative Committee on Equity and Universal Health Coverage and co-authored the latest World Bank report on fair processes for health financing. He is also the author of the book Conversations on Ethics published by Oxford University Press (2009).

Joachim Wehner

Joachim Wehner is Associate Professor in Public Policy in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). From 1997 to 2003, he worked at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa). Following studies in Germany and South Africa, he obtained a PhD in Government from the LSE in 2007. His research is in the areas of political economy and public policy and has been published in the Journal of Politics and the British Journal of Political Science, amongst others.


12 September 2022
9:45 am – 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Jonathan Birch
Shira Ahissar


NAB 1.14
LSE New Aacademic Building (NAB 1.14), 54 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ
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