New does not always mean better

This month PDC’s Director Dan Moxon was invited to be an “inspirational speaker” at the Erasmus+ National Agencies annual European TCA meeting coordinated by Salto Training and Co-operation, on the topic of new and alternative forms of participation. (You can watch the full keynote in the video below)

The term “new and alternative” is rapidly becoming a  buzzword. After the publication of the European Commission's new youth strategy proposal which had the term featured all the way through it, we certainly noticed in increase in downloads of the research Dan and Anne Crowley conducted on the topic.
But as the research argued, new does not automatically mean better… simply Sometimes new ideas are an improvement on the old ones,  sometimes new ideas are worth testing but ultimately don’t offer improvements (Google Glasses anyone?). Sometimes it’s somewhere in between, and we can pull out the learning and move on to the next idea.

So whilst new forms of participation such as online approaches certainly offer a lot of potential for improving participation, it’s time we got serious about identifying and evaluating what we hope to achieve by adopting new methods. We need to move beyond abstract claims about how some forms are better or worse than others. Instead we should define what we are hoping to improve and evaluate both old and new methods alike, moving towards the more successful ones. This is how we can make sure we improve the opportunities young people have to influence and engage with the world around them, rather than simply just doing something different for the sake of it.

So instead of talking about new and alternative forms of participation let's start talking about 
  • New and more inclusive forms of participation,
  • New and more influential forms of participation,
  • New and larger scale forms of participation. 

New and Innovative forms of Youth Participation

The way young people are relating to public institutions is change. Voter turnout is falling, party membership is dropping and trust in public bodies is low.  But since a land mark LSE study the idea that this is caused by a lack of interests in politics amongst young people has been put to rest. Instead it's clear that young people are very interested in shaping the world around them ...its just the way they want to engage in public debate, and with political discourse has shifted.  

Since then, a zeitgeist has developed across Europe to find innovative new ways for young people to participate ...but that means is unclear...and is a social shift amongst young people the same thing as the development of innovative forms of practice by participation workers?

A study into this area was recently commission by the Council of Europe Youth Department, and Undertaken by Dan Moxon, PDC's director, along with Anne Crowley from Red Kite Consultancy.

Within this piece of work, which surveyed over 300 participants from across the Europe, we examine notions of what innovation within youth participation really means, and look for examples of innovation within the sector.  You can read the full report here

PDC providing research support to the EU presidency

People Dialogue and Change has been appointed to provide research support to Estonian, Austrian and Bulgarian EU presidencies.

The work, which will be carried out by our director, Dan Moxon, is based on supporting the 6th Cycle of Structured Dialogue  - an 18 month mechanism to enable young people to influence the 2018 EU Youth Policy.  This process involves three conferences over a period of 18 months and an EU wide youth consultation.

Dan's role will be to work with the conference facilitators to design a research style process for gathering information on priority topics to young people. Following on from this the work will then involve designing the consultation questions and methodological tools to conduct the youth consultation.The consultation itself will be conducted in each of the EU member states and is expected to receive between 60 -70,000 responses.

Dan has undertakes this role as part of his recent appointment to the EU - Council of Europe Youth Partnership pool of youth researchers alongside colleague Ondřej Bárta

You can watch a video about the 2015 conferences below: