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UC signs on to further partnership in participatory democracy

Danielle Meddemmen

2 July 2021: The University of Canberra has committed to extending its existing partnership for a further five years with Participedia – a global crowdsourcing platform for academics, practitioners, and policy makers – helping to expand the reach and impact of participatory democracy.

The University’s Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance will continue its work with the platform, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Associate Professor of Political Science at the University and co-investigator of the global project, Dr Selen Ercan, said working to build the global platform would help to further many other projects the University was already undertaking.

“We are very excited to be part of this global project and to contribute to it through our work on deliberative and participatory democracy at the University of Canberra,” she said.

“We will continue to map and document the participatory processes across Australia and use this knowledge to develop new concepts and tools that scholars and practitioners of democracy can draw on.”

Participatory democracy refers to a model where lay citizens are enabled and empowered to take part in political and policy-making processes, and have become increasingly popular around the world.

Participedia compiles instances of democracy and democratic innovations from around the world, allowing researchers to access this information and asses their effectiveness.

The project was co-founded in 2009 by Archon Fung at Harvard University and Mark Warren at the University of British Columbia, and now brings together 63 researchers from 22 universities, with 21 organisations across 12 countries.

Phase One of the project enabled researchers to compile more than 1,800 cases and 330 methods of participatory democracy, making it the largest database of its kind.

As it now enters Phase Two, it will continue building on that data while incorporating new areas of research including human rights democratic accountability, democratic representation and democracy across borders.

Dr Ercan said Participedia seeks to strengthen democracy across the globe.

“The platform is designed to share and mobilise knowledge about innovative ways of doing democracy and it fulfils that task brilliantly,” she said.

“The platform also evokes hope and inspiration, two of the positive feelings we need most at the moment, as democracy continues to be under threat in many countries, and as we continue to face many uncertainties, here in Australia and in the world.”