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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. Ideally, the groups will be made up of young people with and without a migrant or refugee background.
We offer participants 4 days of training and education to reflect on the fundamental values that hold our societies together – democracy, pluralism, freedom, citizenship, equality, respect – and to see how these values can be successfully communicated.
In addition, we offer 3 days of 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 choice over a period of six months. Examples of possible issues include global warming, social inequality, migration and integration, gender inequality and industrial livestock farming.
After these 6 months, there will be a deliberative event on the topic, independently organized by the group.
Four Social Science Works Fellows who have specialized in deliberation and citizen participation, will each coach one group. For half a year, this coach will meet with the group at least once a month to assist with the analysis of the topic and to help to organize the deliberative event.
After each group has decided which issue they would like to explore, we will put them in contact with existing civil society organizations who are willing to assist them with the organizing and implementing of their deliberative event.
In addition, the coach and group members communicate daily through an Instagram account, which the groups will develop, design and fill with content for their project.
This Instagram account will also inform the public about the development of the upcoming event. The aim is to create an audience for the event and to raise awareness about the issue at stake.
Learning to use social media for deliberation and social participation is an important part of this project. As social media is already very present in the lives of our young participants, it can also be used to facilitate connections between them and their peer group.
Following the event, the groups, with the support of Social Science Works, will write an assessment of the project and the event. This review will be converted into a blog post that will be published on our website.
At the end of the project, all groups will be invited to share and discuss their experiences.
An evaluation and best practice report will be written. The Best Practice Report will be published as a separate publication and will also allow other organizations to use our experiences and results.
In October 2019, we had our first week of workshops with a group of young people from Fürstenwalde (Brandenburg). A report of the week (in German), can be found here.