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Young People of Dundee Rethink Democracy

NEoN Digital Arts has been selected to join Critical ChangeLab, a consortium of 10 established organisations in Europe developing a new learning model that uses participatory, creative, and critical approaches to encourage young people to think about their relationship to everyday democracy—including their relationships with individuals, society, and technology—and act on those thoughts.

European Democracy in Crisis

Throughout the last decades, the perception of a crisis of democracy in Europe has gained force. The phenomenon is part of a global trend marked by the rise of identity politics and the disassociation between liberalism and democracy. While surveys have shown that Europeans still prefer democratic values, researchers have warned about the erosion of democracy and the shrinking of the European civic space, happening at different levels in different member states.

In parallel to these trends, the Eurobarometer Youth Survey 2021 showed that a majority of young people in Ireland, Spain and Belgium, amongst others, consider participating in forms of street politics equally or more effective than voting. The rise of youth global movements for climate action can be taken as an example of youth’s concern for their future and will to engage in collective action. Democracy might be eroding, but youth are aware of the need to take action to defend a sustainable global future.

Studies suggest that there is a need to develop learning spaces for rethinking democracy. Young people should be taught the skills of democracy—collaboration, reflection, and engaging in dialogue—as part of their education. It is also argued that democracy must be cultivated and promoted at the micro level of society in everyday life.

The Approach

Working with Feeling Strong, Dundee’s youth mental health charity, NEoN will tap into young people’s concerns about the future and raise their interest in democracy through ‘everyday democracy’, such as making visible how democracy happens and affects our everyday lives and how their own actions can make a difference.

Imagine this: You’ve been watching videos for an hour and it’s hard to tear yourself away from your screen.

Behind this story is an algorithm.

Who or what influences you to look at your phone, to watch another video, to spend your money?

The young people will be introduced to the theme ‘Influence and technology’ in a safe space where they can feel comfortable learning, discussing, and questioning subject matter together.

During a series of interactive sessions, they will build knowledge on the topic of influence and technology: what it is and where it appears; they will also analyse examples that showcase the different ways of influencing and establishing common ground around the topic. They will discuss and reflect on the ethics of influence and what kind of contradictions or tensions it might create.

The young learners will explore how data collection and misinformation are used to shape our opinions and behaviours and to influence us. They will reflect together on the different ways hidden ‘influencers’ impact our lives and society in general, and the benefits and risks of these systems on democracy. 

Empowering them to influence a future democracy that works for them.

If you are between 11-18 years old, participate in our mini-programme and become a catalyst for change! We’ll provide the pizza (plus a £30 gift voucher); you bring the passion.

WHEN: 10th, 17th & 24th April 2024. 4pm – 7pm

WHERE: Feeling Strong, Block 5, 2 Seabraes Lane, Dundee. DD1 4NX



More about this project:

This initiative is led by University of Oulu, Finland, facilitated by Tactical Tech, Berlin and is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme. Critical ChangeLabs will implement the Critical ChangeLab Model in at least 19 locations across Europe. These include the Critical ChangeLabs organised by consortium partners in Oulu, Finland; Barcelona, Spain; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Linz, Austria; Dublin, Ireland; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Lesbos, Greece; Greater Paris, France.

Critical ChangeLab Critical ChangeLab aims to build a resilient European democracy by reinvigorating the relationship between youth and democracy through civic interventions in which young people envision alternative futures for (shared) European democracy, and act on that. The project is led by the University of Oulu in Finland and embraces a transdisciplinary approach that brings together expertise from nine other partner institutions across Europe. The overall goal of Critical ChangeLab is to strengthen democracy in Europe by creating and implementing a flexible model of democratic pedagogy using a bottom-up approach that empowers young people to ‘own’ everyday democracy and engage in direct action towards justice-oriented transformations.