Democratizing Citizen Engagement: North and South (Canada)
Instructor: David Kahane
Democratizing Citizen Engagement: North and South is a senior undergraduate module in Political Science at the University of Alberta.
The objectives of teh course are: to introduce students to concepts of citizen participation and accountability; to contrast citizen participation in Northern and Southern contexts through case studies from the Citizenship DRC; and to use participatory and democratic teaching methods.
The students are final year political science undergraduates from lower middle-class to privileged backgrounds.
The course tries to engage students in questions of power, participation, and change by focusing attention on the purposes and effects of various participatory teaching methods (e.g. teaching some classes using ‘open space technology’; giving students input into readings and evaluation methods; inviting reflection and feedback on classroom dynamics). Each session is designed and led, at least in part, by one or more students.
The biggest challenges are the cultural presuppositions about being a student. This course is more participatory than other courses and students are often experiencing these pedagogies for the first time. There is juxtaposition between the students' experiences and the content of the curriculum (e.g. being an active student and being an active citizen). There can be a manifest change in the student's perception of themselves as learners – because they are challenged to think about their own agency in their own learning.