EU and LGBTI rights – does this have anything to do with each other? We certainly think so. Therefore, we have developed a one-day modular workshop concept for teachers on behalf of QUEERFORMAT, the agency for Queer Education. The extent to which LGBTI rights are protected by the EU and what the individual EU countries think about this are just some of the insights that the participants will take away with them. At least as exciting is the look at the situation in the individual member states. In order to illustrate this, we have revived a classic of children’s games – the card game known as Happy Families! But instead of comparing car engine sizes or the weight of dinosaurs, we compare EU countries with regard to the protection and rights of LGBTI persons – and we frequently found ourselves amazed when researching this. Do you know which country has the most LGBTI-friendly laws in the EU? If so: Congratulations! If not, print out LGBTI Top Trumps, cut out cards and off you go on the next game night. The materials will soon be available at queerformat.de and of course here, at planpolitik.
(PS: It’s Malta)
At the annual Tiergarten Conference held by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in November each year, experts from all over the world discuss security and foreign policy. This time, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was in charge of the opening, delivering a fascinating speech on Social Democratic foreign policy, the role of the EU and international cooperation. Of course, it was also about how to deal with those who do not really want to play along with multilateralism. Afterwards there was some time for questions from the audience. This part was moderated by us, always keeping an eye on the nervous faces of Mr Maas’s entourage, who had the Minister’s tight schedule in mind. Björn had the pleasure to give the floor to his lecturer from his very first university seminar: Professor Gesine Schwan.
After this rather traditional start, our actual core competence came into play: With the help of a fancy survey tool (digital, of course) and discussions in small groups, we tuned the participants into the topics of the panels that were to follow and thus brought them into conversation with each other. We had developed the questions up for discussion together with the organisation team of the Tiergarten Conference. In this way, the moderators of the two subsequent panels were able to refer directly to the results of the surveys and use them as a way into the conversation.
Last November, we reached another milestone in our ERASMUS+ project #TEVIP: After two years of work, it was time to share the project results with our own colleagues and those of our partner organisations. In beautiful Piemont, 25 trainers and teachers from seven countries were exploring how our personal values shape our work as trainers in political education. The basis for this was the #TEVIP position paper, in which we summarized our position as a project team.
Of course things also became practical and the participants tried out many of the new simulations, role playing games and activities themselves. Finally, the participants developed their own event concepts suitable for their working context in order to use the #TEVIP methods themselves. Also, the exchange between the participants was enormously enriching thanks to a multitude of backgrounds and experiences.
We would therefore like to draw your attention to our #TEVIP closing conference in Potsdam on June 3rd, where we will present our project results and would like to exchange ideas with you. By then all developed methods will be available online on tevip.eu.
For the online department, the launch of the “Parents’ Quiz” as part of the project “Opportunities and creative possibilities of digital media” was scheduled for December 2019. This quiz supports parents and guardians in finding their way through the maze of media education. How do I react when my child can no longer go to the toilet without a mobile phone? Do I possibly have the same problem? The parents’ quiz approaches the everyday problems of children’s use of media in a playful way and gives some helpful advice. By the way, you play it on your smartphone.
At the same time our simulation game software Senaryon continues its journey into classrooms and university seminar rooms. In a recent project of the universities of Krakow, Antwerp and Göttingen, the “EU lobbying game” proved itself on the international stage without the students having to come together – a promising approach, since this is exactly the strength of pure online simulation games. In Lower Saxony, a whole series of online simulation games on EU topics took place in schools, and hundreds of young people played the Unionslabor and our digital media literacy game Junait.
But we are not stopping there. We are currently working on the development of a simple universal structure for online simulation games. This project bears the title “Platinum Standard”. It is intended to facilitate all kinds of conflict situations – whether political, economic, historical or simply regarding the flat share cleaning plan – which can then be simulated as an online simulation game.
At the same time, we are pressing ahead with the forward-thinking integration of digital and analogue event formats in order to internally overcome the division into analogue and digital formats and departments in the medium term – an exciting process of organisational development, which we will perhaps report on in more detail in a later newsletter.
When the last young guests left the “Iserlohner Partizipationstag” (Iserlohn Participation Day) on 6 November 2019, a great project that had accompanied our Department of Democracy and Society for almost the entire year came to an end. Rewind to February 2019: in close cooperation with the Children’s and Youth Office of the City of Iserlohn, we defined the objectives and framework conditions, and on this basis developed a tailor-made concept. The mission? To train a team of committed young people to independently conduct three interactive workshops on the Participation Day, each with groups of a good 100 peers – in three successive rounds. In mid-July, the first stage of the event kicked off: 17 great talents took part in the two-day interactive moderation training, during which they learned about the World Café, simulation game and ideas workshop methods and how to use them. In addition, they learned how to work with very large groups, how to work in a team and of course how to deal with stage fright, small mistakes and unavoidable mishaps.
In the following months, the young people honed their moderation skills, while we provided tailor-made schedules and methodological know-how. Finally the big day: while we moderated the supporting programme with cheerleaders, beatboxing, the Children’s and Youth Council, the German UN youth delegates and a colourful market of possibilities, the moderation teams took their starting position in their three rooms. When called upon, the 370 young people present spread out over the workshops – and off they went! During the next four hours, they discussed how to deal with racism and mobbing, negotiated municipal climate policy in a simulation game, came up with a rich palette of creative ideas for an even better Iserlohn and laughed a lot. Our role in this primarily consisted of amazement and joy (and not forgetting about the big picture)! Nervousness had no place in the workshop room and the young presenters rocked the show with self-confidence and a lot of charm. Hats off!
Our classic simulation game “Shaping globalisation – multilateral cooperation or national solo efforts?” is now in its 15th year and has once again received an update, albeit not in terms of content – which we of course keep up to date anyway – but with regard to the way we communicate it to the participants. We now use our online platform Senaryon, which can be very helpful for the introduction, monitoring and evaluation of a simulation game.
The participants need nothing more than their smartphones. They use them to log on to the platform and answer questions on the topic of globalisation or the course of the simulation itself. The collected results are projected onto the wall and discussed together. The big advantage of this is that really all participants are involved and can take part.
Another new feature: the participants can test for themselves whether they have understood their roles and positions correctly and are fit for the negotiations. To do so, they take short quizzes on the different topics and actors in the simulation game.
The first three runs were very promising. The technology is up and running and will soon be used for other games and formats.
In cooperation with the University of Göttingen, we are once again facing a new challenge: an EU simulation game for teaching in the pre-vocational training year (BVJ), for which suitable materials for (European) political education have so far been absolutely scarce.
The BVJ is attended by pupils who are of school age but have not received a regular training place. Many have had very negative experiences in the school system and are threatened with dropping out of school, some have drug problems, have a criminal record or are confronted with serious family problems.
The team around Prof. Dr. Monika Oberle of the Chair of Political Didactics of Göttingen University is planning two-day workshops, of which our simulation game will fill about three hours. The students will discuss plastic-packed fruit and vegetables as members of the EU parliament and will decide on a regulation. This will be followed by a reality check with a “real” Member of the EU Parliament. We will find out if all this has an effect, because of course the success of the EU-funded Jean Monnet Project JUMPER will be researched.
For the third time now, we have held simulation games as part of the Federal Government’s unification celebrations. After Mainz and Berlin, this year the state of Schleswig-Holstein hosted the festivities. In the Federal Government’s tent directly on the Kiel Fjord, a total of 600 people took on the roles of ministers, state secretaries and the Federal Chancellor in nine game rounds spread across two days. At our faithfully reproduced cabinet table, four different topics were negotiated, most of them in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Grundgesetz, Germany’s post-war constitution. As in previous years, the concept was a complete success: the rush on the tent was so great that several game rounds were overbooked, and we unfortunately had to turn people away.
This year saw the introduction of digital game elements that participants used on their own mobile phones. First, they got to test their knowledge of the German government’s work in an interactive quiz. Then they logged into our “top secret” internal ministry chat to communicate with their colleagues at the cabinet table during the negotiations. Finally, the participants digitally evaluated the simulation game. All this was done via our online simulation platform Senaryon, which is becoming more and more flexible. Running an event of this scale was an unusual experience for us, and we are happy and proud that it went so well – another big step towards what we call Simulation Game Plus – the ever-increasing integration of our analogue and digital offerings.
We hope that our cabinet table will be set up again next year, this time in beautiful Potsdam! And maybe the Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey, will drop by again – as she has done for the second time now – to see how the simulation game version of herself is faring in the negotiations.
“Young people do not have a voice!” – This is an accusation that Lower Saxony Ministry for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development does not want to arise. As a think tank for young civil society in Lower Saxony, the “Zukunftslabor Europa” (Future Lab) regularly provides Minister Birgit Honé with opinions, ideas and expertise from the perspective of the younger generation.
In September we moderated the first workshop with more than 20 representatives of various youth associations and initiatives. Trade unions, the Muslim and Jewish communities, Pulse of Europe, SiMEP, JEF, Sozialverband Deutschland and Fridays for Future – they all exchanged ideas and concrete demands and discussed them with the Minister. The event was, of course, not just a basic hearing: the topics had been selected in advance via online voting and were then addressed in an interactive and extremely engaging workshop. We were delighted by the young people’s way of working, which was characterised by an interest in other positions and constructive approaches to change. By the way, the results have found their way directly into the state’s European policy and were promptly presented to the new EU Commission in Brussels. However, this event was only the beginning – the Future Lab will take place again at the beginning of 2020, with new topics to be discussed.
With newcomers Lukas Meya and Daniel Schneiß as our newest additions, the planpolitik team has now grown to 18 members. While Lukas has worked on numerous projects for us as a freelancer during the past few years, Daniel is a new face to the team. Fun fact – both simultaneously completed their Masters in Politics at the London School of Economics, but never once crossed paths there. After their return, they made up for it in the Reuterkiez area of Berlin where our office is located.
Lukas joined the online team at the beginning of September to develop concepts and marketing strategies for our blended and online offerings. Currently, the focus is on the digital media quiz for parents, which is to receive its premiere in Berlin at the end of November. In a playful way, parents will get a sense of how to assess and manage their children’s use of the media. Lukas has already proven to us on several occasions that his talents extend beyond civic education – note his illustrations for the “Unionslabor” and for the simulation game on the Hanseatic League, which have turned the materials from these projects into real eye-catchers.
Over the next few months we will discover what secret talents lie dormant in Daniel. After all, we already know that he loves to play the saxophone. He joined the “Democracy and Society” team as a student assistant at the beginning of October and is currently helping us update the populism workshop. In addition to content-related work, he will take over organisational and administrative tasks while preparing for his doctorate at Humboldt University in his other life. Lukas and Daniel – it’s great to have you with us!