Youth, Participatory Democracy and the Media (YOUp@)
ACE Kibla, Maribor, Slovenia
EMF European Multimedia Forum, Brussels, Belgium
ICR Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Parte Hartuz, Larrabetzu, Spain
FHAZ, L’Alfas del Pi, Spain
The Peace Institute (Mirovni Inštitut), Ljubljana, Slovenia
In their day-to-day contact with young people, the partners fully measure up the size of the gap that separates the younger generations from the democratic process. This is also amply documented by the decreasing participation of young people in elections at all levels and is all the more true in regions facing cultural, linguistic, social and religious problems. Whereas “protest” remains a vector for young people, especially students, to manifest their citizenship, their direct involvement in proactive, solution-driven, bottom-up democratic processes is neither sought by the decision-makers, nor do young people strive to access all channels open to them.
The partners feel that there is real urgency for society to address the double challenge resulting from the above:
The more young people exclude themselves from the democratic system, the less the system will reach out to them; and conversely.
When a system stops working for the people it is supposed to represent it loses its legitimacy.
The combination of these two factors represents a real threat for democracy.
The project aims at responding to this threat by asking young people themselves to propose their solutions, through a highly participative methodology based on key components of the democratic process :
the traditional parliamentary debate / vote (parliamentary simulation event),
the classical print / audio-visual one-to-many media (documentary)
the latest social networking “web 2.0” many-to-many communication processes (web platform).
The project will thus aim at creating bridges for young people to feel involved in society; raising their awareness of the meaning of European citizenship; encouraging them to reflect on the future of Europe and its democratic and cultural values; strengthening their responsibility towards democratic processes at regional, national and European level; improving their understanding of democratic participation and its opportunities; showing how a real democratic system works and underlining its importance for the future of their countries.
Focus on the participation of young people in mechanisms of representative democracy
The project will directly involve young people in mechanisms of representative democracy. At the core of the project is a parliamentary simulation week through which 24 young adults participate in simulated Parliamentary hearings, debates, votes, preparing dossiers in groups and developing solutions according to real-life processes of a democratic parliament.
The project will directly motivate young people to reflect on realities and solutions related to participatory democracy and the role the media play in it. The topics to be discussed during the “parliamentary sessions” will be (but are not limited to):
Reasons of their disengagement from democratic process
Potential remedies / solutions
The role of the media
Spaces of real information exchange vs. communication overkill
Communicating in times of crisis
The European dimension
Allowing young people to experience the concepts and the practice of representative democracy and active citizenship
Young people will analyze the concept of participatory democracy. They will debate about new participatory solutions and a more pro-active role of the media to induce young citizens to engage in the democratic process. In the same way they will reflect about how they can become themselves an example of what an active youth citizen should be.
This will be achieved through the preparation of a 5-days Parliamentary simulation, permanently supported by a Web 2.0 platform for information and experience exchange.
The project is an open door for everybody. It will involve not only the 24 selected young adults from Slovenia, Spain and the UK who will participate in the Parliamentary simulation, but all who will take part in the website will have the chance to contribute new ideas, opinions or adding own experiences to share.
The website will generate a multilateral and active communication between many young citizens from many countries. It should be noted that the younger age bracket of the target groups can be considered as “digital natives”. That means that they grew up with ubiquitous communication tools and the Internet. Thus, the Web 2.0 solution is something natural to them, that they use with much more ease than elder people. Therefore, any insights from this project will additionally illustrate new ways for reaching out to young people.
YOUP@ - a meeting in Spain, 24.5. - 28.5.2010
A meeting of youth and their mentors from Slovenia, Great Britain and Spain was held in Bilbao (Spain) between 24 and 28 May 2010 within the international project YOUP@ - Youth Participatory Democracy and The Media. The purpose of the meeting was to organise a youth parliament simulation and adopt a resolution, and the whole meeting will be presented in a documentary film.