27 Agosto, 2012

“Workshop on democracy”, first international seminar in Madrid

Overall concept
In the past year there have been demonstrations all over Spain and other European countries about the low quality of our democratic systems. These protests have been led mostly by young people in an unprecedented manner. We have remarked that many of the critics that actual democracy was receiving were due to a lack of knowledge about how our democratic systems work. This lack of knowledge is specially marked when dealing with the European level. In the other hand the protest have accurately pointed out that our democracies are improvable.

We pretend with this project to cover those two instances. Thus, on the one hand we have lunched a workshop to explain in an informal way how democracy works and how democratic mechanisms are put into play in every youngster daily life. On the other hand, we want our young people to come up with a set of proposals to improve democracy. In that regard the project is open about what it can offer finally.

Global Objectives of the project
• To promote greater awareness among the youth of the theoretical mechanisms that govern democracies
• To promote a close practical knowledge on the various democratic processes
• To contribute to a greater awareness among young Europeans of their similarities in their common democratic project
• To create a European democratic awareness
• To make public the activities of EU institutions

Educational objectives of the project:
• Explain the democratic mechanisms that exist within the European Union and put them into a critical perspective
• Show the different types of possible political construction, analyzing their advantages and disadvantages in the light of empirical evidences

Sets of activities
There are two types of activities:
1) Instructional activities:
We will host a workshop between 7-11 November. There participants will learn how democracy works through informal activities. This will take the form of an international seminar that will be held in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid). This seminar has two parts. In the first one participants will interact in multicultural teams where they will be exposed with key concepts that let you seize how democracy works and what is at a stake in every step where democratic decisions are taken. In the second one participants are invited to discuss and provide alternative mechanism that can help to improve the fonctioning of democracies and encourage young people to participate in the political processes.

2) Online activities:
The online activities have also two parts. The first one is mostly preparatory. It will serve to put in contact the organizers and the participants themselves so that, when the seminar takes place, teams can work on the basis of some previous interaction. Given the nature of the workshop, it will kick out the project itself once the formation has been provided. The second part of the project is an online continuation of the proposals the participants did during the seminar. The idea is that they elaborate materials that they decide (written, multimedia) to improve our democracies and how young people participation can be fostered.

Participants (number, age, gender)
Our presential workshop will welcome up to 48 people. Participants will gather around several teams from different countries. We will have 2-4 participants per partner. Our partner associations come from Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain, although others might be expected from the JEF network. The age of the participants should be among 18-30.

Past experience
We have celebrated this seminar several times before, but only for national participants. Now we open it for the international public. If you want to check how this went, you can check the follwoing links with pictures of how it worked in the past:
First day of the seminar
Second day of the seminar

The workshop will be held in Alcalá de Henares. Alcalá is a small University city (around 200.000 inhabitants) whose historical centre is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, and one of the first bishoprics founded in Spain. It is 35 km away from Madrid and well communicated both with the airport and the capital of Spain. It is well know in the region of Madrid for its culinary “tapas” culture. Here you can check some information or here.

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