24.04. – 25.04.

Blockseminar: Participedia – A Global Partnership to Create and Mobilize Knowledge about Democratic Innovations

Seminar for students of the UDE

Ort: Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Goethestraße 31, 45128 Essen

The seminar will be held in English!

Course Description

In recent decades, observers witnessed a fundamental and ongoing change of contemporary democracies in large parts of the world. The empirical model of representative, party based democracy including parliaments, governments, parties and a settled administration is heavily under pressure. Obviously, empirical democracies are coined by certain shortcomings, malaise and deficits like declining public support, party memberships and voters’ turnouts; such as rising distance between politicians and citizens. At the same time, a “participative revolution” is on the way, fostering the spreading of more and more democratic innovations and experiments, like mini publics and other structured forms of citizen participation, complementing representative democracies.

The international Participedia project (www.participedia.xyz) seeks to meet these challenges with an internet-based research platform, which provides us with knowledge about these developments. Participedia addresses fundamental questions with regard to these rapid developments: We need to know (1) what kinds of processes exist and to whom they are distributed, and (2) what kinds of processes work best under what conditions and constraints.

In this course, we introduce students to key concepts and approaches in the study of recent developments in contemporary democracies. The seminar aims at developing a better understanding of developments of dialogue-based forms of citizen participation and its spreading all over the world. This will be done from a social sciences and political theory perspective. The additional goal of the seminar is to get in touch and work with the international internet- based platform Participedia. Participedia is an open-source, participatory knowledge tool that responds to a new global phenomenon. The main task in our class is to prepare a single case study that combines knowledge of democratic theory with democratic practice of structured forms of dialogue based participation.

The block seminar is divided in three thematic parts:

1) The first part deals with basic concepts, foundations and terminology of democratic theory and contemporary democracies with regard to the phenomenology of democratic processes, its characteristics, organizational principles and results.

2) The second part provides an overview of the international platform Participedia, its general structure and applications, in order to understand and analyse forms of participatory democracy.

3) The third part is concerned with the preparing of a case for the platform. You will have to choose a case from a previously selected database. Due to this, you will learn how to structure a clear entry narrative and which guidelines you need to follow to provide all information needed on Participedia; for instance, how to describe the purpose of participatory innovations, the organization as well as the methods used for this specific case.

Sources: Held, D. (2006). Models of Democracy. Standford, Carlifornia, Standford University Press.