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[liberationtech] World Forum for Democracy - Call for lab submissions - Due May 15 - Education and democracy: How to bridge the social divides

Yosem Companys companys at
Fri May 6 09:49:33 PDT 2016

From: Steven Clift <clift at>

I encourage all the democracy builders out there - particularly those
in Europe - to check out this call for submissions from the Council of
Europe (in Word format):

Submissions due May 15, conference is 7-9 November, 2016.

Subscribe to their new e-newsletter:

WFD home page:

While last year's event was primarily digital/privacy and democracy
oriented, ICTs are infused in their 2016 theme "Education and
democracy: How to bridge the social divides."

I am part of their "Incubator for participatory democracy" - - which
connects with city governments in Europe in particular. This small
invite-based group meets aside the main event, so I hope to be
Strasbourg again in November.

Please pass this call on to those in education for democracy circles
you think would be interested.

Steven Clift

P.S. Here is the text from the top of the call Word doc for your

Education and democracy: How to bridge the social divides

Strasbourg, 7-9 November 2016

Call for lab submissions

The World Forum for Democracy is a platform for dialogue and
innovation dedicated to democracy which promotes the Council of Europe
principles across the world. A unique event of its kind, it deals with
challenges facing democracy taking as a starting point innovative
initiatives and practice, and fostering debate between different
actors in order to find SOLUTIONS. The Forum highlights and encourages
democratic innovation to strengthen the foundations of democratic
societies. A democratic exercise in itself, the Forum aims at giving
the people – demos – their rightful place in political
decision-making. It thus contributes to the evolution of democracy
towards more participatory and inclusive structures and institutions.

 The 2016 World Forum for Democracy will focus on the relationship
between education and democracy. It will examine whether they can
reinforce each other and together address the risks of new social
divides. In particular, the forum will explore how education and
democracy can nurture active citizens with critical and analytical
skills, and how through fostering grassroots innovation and bottom-up
democratic reform, it can help develop civic engagement and improve
opportunities for all.

Education is central to democratic societies. In principle, the higher
their level of education, the more actively citizens participate in
elections and other aspects of democratic life. Education for
democratic citizenship aims “by equipping learners with knowledge,
skills and understanding and developing their attitudes and behaviour
to empower them to exercise and defend their democratic rights and
responsibilities in society, to value diversity and to play an active
part in democratic life, with a view to the promotion and protection
of democracy and the rule of law"[2]

But is education fulfilling its democratic mission or is it failing to
build the key qualities for democratic citizenship? What is the role
of different education actors – teachers, learners, families, civil
society organisations, public authorities, and the media? Is it
necessary to reform the organisation and functioning of educational
institutions in order to better respond to the requirements of
democracy? Can schools and other educational environments become
spaces for democratic experimentation, including new forms of
democracy in the digital age? Are there new, alternative forms of
learning and practicing democracy in educational institutions and how
to analyse them?

In particular, the forum will explore how education and democracy

1) nurture active citizens with critical and analytical skills, as
well as other key democratic competences;

§  What kind of democratic resources can be mobilised to help fund and
improve access to quality education, giving access to learning to all
pupils and students, particularly those in vulnerable or disadvantaged
groups, while developing each pupil’s and student’s personality,
talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential?

§  Are technological developments, the use of ICT in education,
public-private partnerships, and non-formal educational methods a
potential solution to ensure a higher level of inclusion in education
and to what extent institutions are able to combine different forms of
provision, including both face to face and online?

§   How can we foster lifelong learning by making use of emerging
technologies to support intergenerational dialogue?

§  How can education help bridge cultural (ethnic, religious,
linguistic) divides in society and contribute to building a
pluralistic identity?

Initiatives could include, inter alia, different forms of democratic
schools; personalised learning and alternative teaching methods;
education innovation through ICT; projects to provide learning
opportunities for students in vulnerable groups; promoting pluralism
and critical thinking through education, culture, or civic action;
education to increase the public’s defense against hate speech;
encouraging active citizenship, inter-faith dialogue and intercultural
dialogue in education; youth empowerment programmes; and many more.

2) through grassroots innovation and bottom-up reform, promote and
strengthen citizen participation and thereby help bridge social
divides and improve opportunities for all

§  How can democracy be transformed towards more inclusive and
participatory methods which give a voice to all citizens and not only
the educated elites?

§  How can grassroots innovation in education inspire changes in
democratic processes and contribute to democratic reform?

§  What changes at the level of school organisation and functioning,
the roles and responsibilities of different education actors –
teachers, learners, families, and civil society actors, public
authorities, the media – are required to make schools and universities
places where learners experience and practice democracy, including new
forms of democracy in the digital age, and where critical thinking and
participation in decision-making is not only taught but also

Initiatives and actions in this area would focus, for example, on
inclusive models of democratic decision-making, such as citizens’
assemblies, citizen advisory councils, crowdsourcing of policy-making
and their educational effects; ICT-enabled citizen outreach,
information, and participation; laboratories for democratic
citizenship and participation; programmes by governments or political
parties to provide citizens with the opportunity to learn about
political processes and voice their opinions; education for democratic
citizenship through media or civil society actors; education reforms
to make schools more participatory and inclusive; projects to provide
opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth; projects which
involve educational actors & students in democratic debate and
decision-making; etc.

The labs are the ♥ of the World Forum for Democracy. Their idea is to
address specific issues through the critical analysis of tested
initiatives. The initiatives will be presented in short speeches of
ten minutes and critically assessed by multidisciplinary panels and
participants in the labs. Cartoonists will illustrate the sessions
live. The key conclusions and lessons learnt from the labs will be
discussed in a summing up session in order to prepare the overall
conclusions for the Forum.

Interested organisations/institutions worldwide are invited to express
their interest in presenting an example/initiative to make education
more democracy-centred or to revitalise democracy through education,
by answering the questionnaire in the appendix and sending it to
forum_democracy at by 15 May 2016. The World Forum Task Force
will select the most interesting and relevant proposals in June 2016.

One presenter for the selected initiatives will be invited to
Strasbourg to take part in the World Forum. Funded places are
available. Any public or private organisation is eligible to apply.

For further information about the World Forum for Democracy 2016,
please visit the following websites:


[2] Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship
and Human Rights Education

Steven Clift
Ericsson, Minneapolis
About/contact Steven Clift:

Our wiki for project-related info:
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