By Dr. Mark Bennister, Senior Lecturer in Politics
The politics programme at CCCU recently hosted a workshop with local schools to explore ways to enhance parliamentary democracy through digital means. The event was organised by Dr Mark Bennister, Senior Lecturer in Politics and involved three local schools, current politics undergraduates and programme staff. CCCU was chosen to host the regional workshop and will feed into the national event at Westminster during Parliament Week on 17 November.
The schools worked together – facilitated by CCCU politics students – to come up with ideas, potentially utilising social media and the latest digital technology, to both engage young people in politics and break down the institutional barriers associated with Parliament. The students had to pitch their idea to the whole workshop and explain how it would work. The winning idea, a video based interactive tool ‘One Minute Politics’ will go forward to the national event. Two of the students, both from Oakwood Park Grammar School, will get the opportunity to travel to Westminster to present the idea.
Dr Bennister said: ‘Young people are typically less engaged with traditional forms of politics and political activity. Only 44% of 18-24 years olds voted in the 2010 general election, yet the recent Scottish referendum – where the voting age was extended to 16 and 17 year olds – demonstrates how young people can get engaged in politics.’
‘Technology can play a key role in harnessing the online activity of young people to promote such engagement with parliamentary democracy. In the politics programme we have developed a politics blog, regularly host webinars with MPs and utilise the long established Making Politics Matter speaker sessions to engage with the wider political sphere.’
This initiative to improve digital engagement between Parliament and young people stems from the Digital Democracy Commission, launched by Speaker John Bercow in December 2013. The regional workshops and national event are supported by the Political Studies Association and Parliament Week. The ideas generated will contribute to the Digital Democracy Commission’s final report.
For more information contact Dr Mark Bennister firstname.lastname@example.org
See the politics blog at https://canterburypolitics.wordpress.com/
For details of the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission see http://www.parliament.uk/business/commons/the-speaker/speakers-commission-on-digital-democracy/