Projects

Ongoing Projects

European Union Erasmus+: Our Europe for All

“OUR EUROPE FOR ALL - Youth discuss Europe amongst each other and with EU parliamentariansis a deliberative dialogue project involving twenty schools in Berlin and Brandenburg aligned with the guiding themes of the 8th cycle of Erasmus+ Youth Dialogue: space for democracy and participation. The project’s aim is to encourage democratic participation among young Europeans by providing them with the space to deliberate on the European Union and on their civic responsibilities, to reflect on the outcome of these exchanges and to bring forward their findings and discuss them with EU Parliamentarians. The project’s initial phase of workshops conducted in each school will involve 500 students overall, between the ages of 15 and 18. They will participate in deliberations on the ideas that underlie the European ideal and project, reflecting together on their role and responsibilities as citizens. Following these exchanges, twenty elected student representatives will meet to prepare a report on the outcomes of the workshops. This report will serve in a deliberative conference organised with EU Parliamentarians where the student representatives will discuss their peersideas, concerns, and reflections on the European Union with decision makers. The project will have local, regional and European impacts: youth in Berlin and Brandenburg will be engaged in political participation and will connect and dialogue amongst themselves and with EU Parliamentarians. EU Parliamentarians will gain insight into youth reflections on and concerns about the European Union. Following the project, a report on encouraging civic participation among young people will be written and it will compile best practices on leading deliberation workshops with youth. This will be made available for all on Social Science Works’ website.

Young people deliberate: Promoting political engagement. Strengthening media literacy in WEB 2.0.

Despite a consistently high approval of the democratic model, more and more young people appear to be dissatisfied with it. Due to a lack of trust, they provide little support for existing democratic structures and are difficult to mobilize politically. Through targeted educational  programs this group must be familiarized with different forms of political participation. These programs should be geared to the lifestyles of the young people concerned: more practice-oriented, time-sensitive, more focused on concrete events, more interactive and with increased use of social media.

The aim of this project is the activation, motivation and empowerment of young people for common social and political engagement. Building on our deliberative democracy and integration projects of recent years, we are expanding our deliberative approach. Together with our participants we will organize deliberative events to discuss pregnant social issues.

We will form four groups of 10 to 15 young people between 16 and 25 years old in the rural regions of Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. We offer the participants training to reflect on the fundamental values that hold our societies together, as well as training in the functions and workings of civil organizations and activities. We also discuss how social media can be used for civil society activities. Following this training, the groups will explore and discuss an issue of their own choice over a period of six months. After this period, there will be a deliberative event on the chosen issue, independently organized by the group.

More information about the project can be found here.

Deliberations with refugees

In 2021, we again implement series of workshops with refugees. As in previous years, we will discuss themes like democracy, freedom, pluralism, civil society, identity, discrimination, racism, gender equality and homosexuality. With the support of the Partnerschaft für Demokratie in Teltow-Fläming and the German Red Cross we will implement a dozen workshops with recently arrived refugees in Wünsdorf (Brandenburg). For an interview about the previous project in 2020 click here. A short report on this project is here. In 2021, with the support of the municipality of Rangsdorf (Brandenburg), we will also implement a dozen workshops with people living already for some years in the two local refugee homes. For an overview of our deliberative approach, click here.

Rangsdorf Future Workshop

Commissioned by the Municipality of Rangsdorf, Social Science Works is conducting a study among the main stakeholders involved in refugee assistance in this Brandenburg town. Questions are how all stakeholders see the future, what they perceive as problems that need to be solved, and how this can be realized. The stakeholders are the approximately 150 refugees living in Rangsdorf, the political decision makers, the involved state and civil society organizations, the directly responsible social workers, and various volunteer organizations. The aim is to reach a workable agreement on a problem analysis, and then a plan of action: who does what, when and why, and what are the responsibilities? The entire process will be deliberative in which as many stakeholders as possible participate and become responsible for the problem analysis and the chosen solution strategy.

Long-term cooperation with a school in Teltow, Brandenburg.

In cooperation with local partners we organize deliberative workshops in schools. The themes are chosen together with teachers and students, depending on the needs and interests of the people involved. Popular are democracy, identity, radicalization, discrimination, racism, sex equality, and homosexuality. This year, we have a long term cooperation with the Grace Hopper Gesamtschule in Teltow, Brandenburg. We will be present in the school for almost a year, interacting about two times per month with one group of adolescents. We will talk over fundamental values and ideas that keep our societies and communities together and all sorts of discrimination, including racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and homophobia. We will also have a “Dark Tourism Deliberation Day” in Berlin, visiting five memorial sites including The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe; The Memorial for Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism; and the Memorial for the Victims of National Socialist “Euthanasia” Killings. The project has been made possible by the Internationaler Bund Berlin-Brandenburg. We will evaluate the workings of the project via repeated surveys and interviews. Information on a comparable project in Hamburg can be found here.

 

Empowering refugee women through deliberation and theatre

Social Science Works is beginning a series of workshops by women for women in a Rangsdorf refugee accommodation. The innovative aspect of this workshop is the interweaving of deliberative discussion with approaches from theater pedagogy to promote inner mobility. Deliberation means an open exchange of opinions aimed at better understanding one's ideas and views, putting them into context, and enriching them with alternative perspectives. Often, however, cognitive exploration alone has its limits especially when participants have little experience with such rounds of discussion. Approaches from theatre can help to make the topics and questions  affectively perceptible and to communicate playfully what would otherwise have remained unspoken. Through theater one promotes the ability to concentrate, as well as to become aware of one's own body and voice.

We aim to make women more aware of their strengths and to encourage them to reflect on their role in our society. We would like to encourage women to reflect on themselves; strengthen their body awareness, and thus, their self-perception; inform them about their rights and possibilities for shaping their lives in Germany; understand and reflect on role-patterns together; jointly process experiences of discrimination; and talk about values like freedom, equality, and respect.

The series starts with 12 meetings. It is important to us that the meetings and discussions take place at eye-level and in a protected space. We do not want to teach from above and are convinced that we will learn a lot as well. This social gathering exclusively among women is intended to create an atmosphere of trust in which deeper conversations are possible. Accordingly, we will provide a cozy atmosphere with coffee and delicious food. For a blog-article about the previous project in Potsdam, click here.

Completed Projects in 2020 and 2019

Deliberations with Wünsdorf refugees

In 2020, we again implemented series of workshops with refugees. With the support of the German Red Cross and the Partnerschaft für Demokratie in the Landkreis Teltow-Fläming we continued our deliberations in the refugee home in Wünsdorf, Brandenburg. The refugees living in this home most of the time arrived no longer than one year ago in Germany. This year we visited the home ten times and discussed themes like democracy, freedom, pluralism, civil society, identity, discrimination, racism, gender equality, homosexuality and German culture. For an interview about the project click here. A short report on the project is here. For an overview of our deliberative approach, click here.

Empowering refugee women through deliberation and theatre

Social Science Works implemented in 2020 a series of workshops by women for women in a Potsdam refugee accommodation. The innovative aspect of this workshop is the interweaving of deliberative discussion with approaches from theater pedagogy to promote inner mobility. Deliberation means an open exchange of opinions aimed at better understanding one's ideas and views, putting them into context, and enriching them with alternative perspectives. Often, however, cognitive exploration alone has its limits especially when participants have little experience with such rounds of discussion. Approaches from theatre can help to make the topics and questions affectively perceptible and to communicate playfully what would otherwise have remained unspoken.

We aim to make women more aware of their strengths and to encourage them to reflect on their role in our society. We would like to encourage women to reflect on themselves; strengthen their body awareness, and thus, their self-perception; inform them about their rights and possibilities for shaping their lives in Germany; understand and reflect on role-patterns together; jointly process experiences of discrimination; and talk about values like freedom, equality, and respect.

The series encompassed 12 meetings. It is important to us that the meetings and discussions take place at eye-level and in a protected space. We do not want to teach from above and are convinced that we will learn a lot as well. This social gathering exclusively among women is intended to create an atmosphere of trust in which deeper conversations are possible. Accordingly, we will provide a cozy atmosphere, as well as coffee and delicious food. For a blog-article about this project, click here.

Long-term cooperation with a Hamburg school

Social Science Works adopted in 2019 a school in Hamburg. Instead of one time three days, as we did before, we were present in the school for almost half a year, interacting about two days per month with two groups of adolescents, with different ages. We talked over fundamental values and ideas that keep our societies and communities together and all sorts of discrimination, including racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and homophobia.

We also had a “Dark Tourism Deliberation Day” in Berlin. Together with our fellow and specialist Asaf Leshem we visited five memorial sites: The Memorial for the Murdered Members of the Reichstag; The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism; The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe; The Memorial for Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism; and the Memorial and Information Point for the Victims of National Socialist “Euthanasia” Killings (the so called Aktion T4).

In each of the memorials we engaged in discussions on topics of democracy, freedom, discrimination, xenophobia and racism, antisemitism and others. We deliberated these topics through examination of the memorial sites, and through answering such questions as What do they mean to the students? Why were they built? Who were they built for? Why do we commemorate? Why do we commemorate via memorial sites?

The project had been made possible by IN VIA Hamburg (www.invia-hamburg.de) and the Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend. We evaluated the workings of the project via repeated surveys and interviews. The report can be found here.

 

Deliberation in Schools

In 2019, in cooperation with local partners, we organized deliberative workshops in several different schools. The themes were chosen together with teachers and students, depending on the needs and interests of the people involved. Popular were democracy, identity, radicalization, discrimination, racism, sex equality, and homosexuality. This year we cooperated, among others, with schools in Harburg (Hamburg) and Fürstenwalde (Brandenburg). These blog-articles give an impression: Harburg and Fürstenwalde.

Deliberation with different groups of refugees

As in the previous years, in 2019 we implemented workshops with groups of refugees and discussed the fundamental values and ideas that enable us to live together in a fair society. The in total 28 workshops of two to three hours each that we organized in Brandenburg had been made possible by the Brandenburg Ministry of Education. We visited three different refugee homes in Potsdam, one in Wünsdorf, and one in Fürstenwalde. The participants were mixed groups of adults, as well as groups of adolescents, children, and women. For more information about the project and, especially, an overview of our deliberative approach, click here. For a description of Emma Eden of her work with a group of Muslim women, click here.

Freedom, autonomy, emancipation for all

Round tables about emancipation in Germany

Salaries, promotion prospects, education, political participation or equal division of domestic work and childcare: the gap between men and women in Germany is still large. Women earn less, suffer more due to their triple duties of family, caring and profession, are more affected by old-age poverty and are underrepresented in politics, economy and science. At the same time, men are under pressure to be the sole provider of the family income. The men’s aspiration to have more time with their children often fails, because of a father-unfriendly company culture or legal practice in divorce and family matters, that still perceives the mother as the main person responsible for children.

Throughout Germany, we organize workshops in order to deliberate with citizens of all societal milieus about gender equality. We invite our participants to talk about equal employment opportunities, equal division of domestic work and new flexible working hours models. We ask among other things about the possible differences between both main sexes, about the personal, social, political and economic costs of gender inequality, as well as what emancipation means for the whole of society, what we could do in order to promote equality and what kind of support we expect from the state.

We present our participants up-to-date information about gender in Germany and other countries. In good deliberative fashion we poll the participants at the beginning as well as at the end of the talks about their ideas and views. In this way we can get an impression of the beliefs present in the German population and whether these beliefs change under the influence of information and discussion. The second poll would give us an indication of what the German population would have had for preferences, when they first had had an informed discussion on the topic of gender equality.

Most of the laws needed for gender equality are installed in Germany, but women and men are still treated unequally. So obviously, the awareness of the problem and the costs of not acknowledging the problem, is low. Therefore, of main importance for the project is to find out how the issue of gender equality could be successfully communicated with the German citizenry

For more information about the project, visit the German pages of this website. For an article about our previous experiences with deliberations on this topic, click here. For the further education we offer on gender equality, click here. An article about our experiences since the autumn of 2019 regarding this project will be published soon.

 

Deliberation with Muslim and non-Muslim citizens

With the support of the town of Potsdam, we organized and mediated in 2019 ten deliberations of about three hours each with Muslim and non-Muslim citizens of Potsdam. We met twice or once a month and discussed together themes like freedom (of expression, religion, and association), autonomy, emancipation, pluralism, democracy, identity, discrimination, respect, sex equality, our mutual fears, and how we can prevent and counter possible radicalization on both sides. A report on the project can be found here.

Further education for Multiplicators

In cooperation with local partners we implemented in 2019 many two-day deliberative workshops for volunteers, social workers and civil servants involved in democratization, deradicalization, anti-discrimination and integration. We cooperated, among others, with Arbeit und Leben (Fachstelle Migration und Vielfalt - Hamburg), Haus am Maiberg (Politische & Soziale Bildung - Hessen), Flüchtlingshilfe Babelsberg (Brandenburg), Landesjugendring (Brandenburg) and the Kreisverwaltung Mayen-Koblenz (Rheinland-Pfalz). For the current offerings in further education, visit the page Weiterbildung on the German pages.

Civil Dialogues

In cooperation with local partners we organized and mediated in 2019 several civil dialogues: citizens talking together about the values and ideas that keep our societies together, citizens talking about their frustrations, fears, hopes and ideals regarding their societies. An example are the deliberations we had in March in a town in Brandenburg. In cooperation with ESTAruppin (Einsetzen statt Aussetzen – Engaging instead of Deferring) we talked with 30 citizens that have not always fared well in our society and normally do not talk politics that often. We discussed women rights, masculinity, homo sexuality and, most of all, the European Union: what is it and what we want from it. We only had 8 hours, but this was enough to show us again that normal people are able to discuss together the values that keep our societies together, although they often did not have the opportunity yet to develop their abilities in this sphere to the full. A report on this meeting can be found here. Another example was the deliberation we had in July in Wolmirstedt (Sachsen-Anhalt). For a report click here.

Projects in 2018, 2017 and 2016

Further education on deliberation, democracy, pluralism and discrimination

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we organized in total 24 series of deliberative workshops for civil volunteers and social workers involved in integration work. This further education, taking up two or three days, was made possible by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).We started in Brandenburg and Berlin, but were soon active in the whole of Germany. In these workshops, we illustrated the ideas and methods of deliberation and explained how themes such as democracy, freedom, tolerance, identity, gender equality, or (homo) sexuality can be deliberatively discussed with citizens from other cultures. Aim was to eliminate the uncertainties shared by many European citizens when it comes to justifying and articulating the values ​​of society. These ambiguities and uncertainties often cause unclear impressions for newcomers and therefore hinder integration. We also discussed at length identity, discrimination and racism. All kinds of discrimination are at odds with the idea of human rights and the related ideas of respect and tolerance. The concept of human rights we analyzed and justified via a deliberative analysis of the concepts of democracy, pluralism, freedom and autonomy. The insights we developed here together were then applied and deepened via a discussion of gender equality and homosexuality. A description of the project (in German) that concentrated on discrimination is available here: Übersicht Deliberation gegen Diskriminierung SSW 2018. For the flyer for the seminars in Potsdam in 2017, click here. The flyer of the project in 2018 is available here.

Deliberation in Brandenburg: understanding Germany

In 2016, 2017 and 2018 we implemented in total 22 rows of workshops, each with six sessions of about two hours, in which we have discussed with different groups of refugees and locals the ideas, perspectives and values, ​​that many consider constitutive of European culture and identity. The yearly projects were made possible by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and the Integration Commissioner of the state Brandenburg. The topics of the workshops included: ethical, cultural and political pluralism, humanism, democracy, religious freedom, gender, gender equality, (homo-) sexuality, fears of migrants, and fears for migrants in the German population. For more information about the project and, especially, an overview of our deliberative approach, click here.

Deliberation against Populism

In this project we organized two deliberative events with German radicalizing citizens that on the internet had shown sympathy for right wing populist standpoints. The prime goal of the project was to find new ways to get into contact with citizens that see themselves as political alienated or unrepresented, and to reengage them in the democratic discourse. We particularly explored the possibilities of social media, also trying to counter the much discussed “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” where people predominantly receive messages that reaffirm and strengthen their pre-existing opinions. Together with the participants, we wanted to examine their take on contemporary society – which problems, challenges, opportunities and perspectives they see, and how these hang together. More information on this project can be found here. A summary of the project is available here.

Buddy Project

In 2016 and 2017 we organized a "buddy project" for adolescent male refugees from mainly Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran who had come to Germany unaccompanied. The young men regularly met with "buddys" (slightly older German or German-speaking men) for more than 6 months to gain better insights and understanding, contacts and implicit knowledge of the local society. On the difficulty to recruit German male volunteers for this project, click here. The German magazine Lotta published here on the project. And an article in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant on the Buddy project can be found here.

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