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Elements of Meaningful Public Participation
Hosted by U.S. EPA, Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch
Community Involvement University (CIU)

What is the course overview?
This course provides an overview and framework for conducting effective and meaningful public participation under the Superfund program. It presents a well-organized approach to public participation built around TPC’s Eight Elements of Meaningful Participation. It places focus on practical understanding of public participation and helps participants to explore a wide range of issues. 

Who should take this course?
This course is recommended for EPA staff or managers (e.g., CICs, RPMs, OSCs) who routinely or occasionally work with the public or other non-technical or expert stakeholders. There are no prerequisites for this course.

What are the course learning objectives?
Participants who complete this course will gain skills on:

  • How to Understand what is and is not public participation;
  • How public participation supports powerful decision-making;
  • How to engage the public to help us make better decisions;
  • Where public participation is appropriate and how to make this determination;
  • What makes organizations credible and trustworthy;
  • How to design public participation for powerful results;
  • How to set clear goals and expectations;
  • Best practices in planning, design, and implementation; and
  • How to avoid common mistakes.

What are the logistics?
This course is a highly interactive mix of facilitated discussion, video, and small and larger group discussion. The one-day version provides an overview of the key elements of public participation. The two-day in-depth workshop is available to train, prepare, and practice the skills that people will need for their projects. Recommended course size is 12-30 participants.

Doug Sarno of The Participation Company (TPC) teaches this course. He developed the course and is a civil engineer with more than 30 years of experience in Superfund and environmental cleanup. He has devoted much of his career to improving environmental decision-making and effectively engaging diverse groups of stakeholders in complex and controversial decisions.

TPC offers a wide range of courses on public participation, collaboration, communication, conflict resolution and facilitation tailored specifically to EPA and the Superfund program. These courses are designed as stand-alone events or combined in many configurations to create a customized program of instruction for groups or teams. All training is highly interactive and includes a wide variety of real-life lessons. Focus is on providing real, practical skills that EPA program managers, communicators and community relations professionals will apply immediately.

Is there available background material?

  • Participants receive a detailed course workbook.
For general information contact Tina Conley by telephone at 703-603-0696 or via e-mail at

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