Democracy in Practice: a new project about Civic Education

This weekend the CD house in Brussels was bursting with ideas from a very motivated group of people. They travelled from Athina, Groningen, London, and Sofia to set up AEGEE’s newest project: Democracy in Practice.

The idea of Democracy in Practice was built around some central questions: how does one practice democracy? What are the ingredients of a healthy and sustainable democracy?

The answer was clear: to promote the participation of young people in their communities, they need to be aware of the role of human rights as the basis of a healthy democracy. However, the reality is different. In many countries democracy is not functioning as well as it could, and many citizens are wondering how to make it work better. The Democracy in Practice project wants to contribute to the Civic Education Focus Area of the Strategic Plan 2014-17, training young Europeans and especially AEGEEans in the democracy and participation dimension.

Democracy in Practice will be presented for ratification as AEGEE-Europe project at Agora Cagliari. It consists of a series of week-long training courses focused around democracy, human rights, and how these two topics are connected. At each one of the Democracy in Practice training courses, participants receive sessions on human rights and the basis of democracy. Besides, they will get the chance to participate in discussions and develop a campaign with a local or regional scope. During the learning process, a team of trainers and experts coming from AEGEE and partners like the Council of Europe will assist the participants. Each participant will leave at the end of the week with an action plan, which will be the basis for their personal follow-up after the project to have an impact in their local community.

The idea is not new. It arose already in the Summer of 2013 when the HRWG members were not sitting still. They felt frustrated about the lack of democracy, and the numerous human rights violations happening in the months before (for example in Turkey, Russia, and Greece). At first the idea was to start a small project about the connection between democracy and human rights, but soon it was clear that a small project would not be enough.
When Maria Arends (AEGEE-Groningen/AEGEE-Tarragona) got accepted for the Training of Trainers in Human Rights Education (ToTHRE) from the Council of Europe, she came up with a project idea and the result was Democracy in Practice. The next step, finding more motivated members, was then very easy.

Right now the team consists of Maria Arends (Project Manager), Danae Matakou (AEGEE-Athina, Content Manager), Adrienn Jankovich (AEGEE-Budapest, Impact Measurement Responsible), and Lia Tuska (AEGEE-Sofia, PR Responsible). An open call for new members to join the team is to be expected very soon. Last, but not least, nothing can be achieved without the help of the locals, so the project will send an open call for hosting locals, too.

More information can be found on the Facebook page or by sending an email at

 Written by the Democracy in Practice core team