This profile was prepared when Myrna Wajsman-Lewis was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
The basis for her method, Deep Democracy, is a psychological concept based on the inherent flaw of traditional majority democracy that allows 51 percent of any population to make decisions for the other 49 percent. Deep Democracy recognizes the wisdom of all viewpoints and fosters the 'buy in' to decisions. Myrna has observed that any decision-making process is at the mercy of deeper, often unstated, views, attitudes, or emotions. Progress is often sabotaged by the minority. She teaches conflict resolution and facilitation techniques in response to this tendency. Her program is accessible to all people and encourages young people to participate in decision making. She teaches the skills necessary to acknowledge and channel the deeper issues and subtleties when faced with difficult choices. The skills are easily grasped by students, who, through Myrna's project, learn to effectively make decisions and resolve conflicts in their schools.