“Democracy is boring.” “Politics, that’s just the parties.” – This or something similar is probably the attitude of many young people towards participation and democratic involvement. In addition, smartphones, the internet and social media channels have made an unprecedented impact on their lives. Against this background, how can young people be empowered to actively participate in democratic processes? What digital skills will enable them to help shape tomorrow’s society as responsible citizens? The Open Knowledge Foundation Germany is looking for answers with its concept of democracy labs: the multi-stage, modular model project tries to let young people between the ages of 12 and 21 experience the connection between digital, social and democratic participation. For this purpose, innovative workshop formats were developed with the aim of helping young people to recognise the pitfalls of (and ways out of) populism, dubious reporting and hate speech and to discover alternative forms of demonstration.

The nexus Institute evaluates and supports the Open Knowledge Foundation by means of a scientific accompanying analysis. The aim is to provide the Open Knowledge Foundation with pedagogical and scientific advice on the development and operationalisation of the workshop formats in the democracy labs and to examine the effectiveness of the workshops. Targeted data collection will help to further tailor the workshop formats to the needs of the target group in terms of content and methodology, thereby increasing their effectiveness and also providing future perspectives for further development. The nexus Institute pursues a participatory approach on several levels: on the one hand, it works closely with the target group of young people themselves in order to obtain first-hand feedback and input on their experiences in designing the workshop formats, in conducting the workshops and on core issues, such as deficits and uncertainties in digital and social behaviour. Furthermore, the future trainers in the youth institutions are included in the process through interviews, as their role as mediators influences the quality of the workshop formats. They also have valuable knowledge about the target group. Finally, close and participatory work is done with the Open Knowledge Foundation in order to be in constant mutual exchange, to jointly design the detailed planning of the analysis and to initiate a mutual learning and development process from the very beginning, which contributes to the improvement of the model project.

Duration: 09/2017 – 12/2017
Client: Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland
Team: Ansgar Düben, Kerstin Franzl