When hate speech spreads on the Internet, people often respond by attempting to refute the toxic narrative, the lies, the hatred. But how does one manage to place alternative, hopeful narratives on the Internet beyond refutation? The Netzteufel project by Evangelische Akademie Berlin deals with questions of suitable content and digital forms of implementation.
In September 2018, 25 participants were invited from all over Germany to the Berlin island of Schwanenwerder to tackle exactly this question over a two-day design thinking workshop. For a change, planpolitik was primarily active behind the scenes. In cooperation with the project’s leaders, we developed the workshop concept, conducted a one-day design thinking training course for the four speakers and created a detailed list containing all kinds of tips and tricks for the work groups. On the two days of the event, we were present as method coaches – usually a rewarding role, especially when the general mood and creativity are good and everything runs smoothly. Over the course of the event, the method worked its magic, leading participants away from constant writing and towards brainstorming, drawing and making things, coupled with continuous feedback loops during which ideas and both analog and digital prototypes were tested by users. The result was a colourful mix of digital prototypes that brought the themes of gender, homosexuality, Islam and refugees into harmony with the Word of God.
For some time now, the EU project #TEVIP has been an integral part of our European department’s agenda. The acronym stands for “Translating European Values into Practice”, and that is exactly what we have set out to do together with the project’s partner organisations. What does the term “values” actually mean, and what exactly are “European values”? How can we make these, often abstract European values tangible for young people?
With the aim of exploring these and other questions from a transnational perspective, the first “Youth Mobility” meeting of the project took place in August 2018 in Poronin, Poland. Taking part were 38 young and highly motivated people from Poland, Italy and Germany. In cooperation with with Youth of Europe, the main partner organisation responsible for the “Mobility” aspect, newly developed interactive formats were put to the test and refined based on feedback from the participants. There were lively discussions about different interpretations and the realisation of values such as solidarity, freedom or equality. Another hot topic was the question of a European identity. There was a good reason why the whole thing took place in the vicinity of the Tatra Mountains and the popular town of Zakopane: to ensure plenty of activating outdoor fun. We are now entering the next TEVIP phases with a new motivation boost!
The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) determines the development agenda of the United Nations until the year 2030. What is special about them is that the SDGs do not only refer to traditional development policy, i.e. the fight against hunger, poverty or a lack of education, but also focus on virtually every area of political trade. This includes issues such as gender equality, fair wages, the fight against climate change, and good governance – not only in developing countries, but also in industrialised countries and emerging economies.
It is not an easy topic to make tangible and understandable in a game. Especially since the target group and format of the game are rather unusual for us. The game is intended for officers of the Bundeswehr who are trained in development issues by our client Engagement Global. The format is a classic game board with score boards, game chips, lap counters and dice.
Four people represent an industrialised country, an emerging market country and two developing countries. The players draw action cards, spend money on political measures and negotiate mutual aid or joint responses to crises. The difficult bit is that if not all countries make at least some progress, they all lose! After very successful tests, we were able to hand over the game to Engagement Global in October 2018; game set production is currently underway.
Merhaba Eskişehir! In November the project “Global Playgrounds – From Design to Practice” of the German-Turkish Youth Bridge took place for the third time, this time in the capital of Anatolia. Our partners at German-Türkische Jugendbrücke and at youth organisation TOY, which is active locally in Eskişehir, were also involved. In the last two years young people from Turkey and Germany had developed games to help with the integration of refugees. This time was all about developing workshop concepts for the use of these games. Over the course of three and a half days, 24 young adults from Germany and Turkey worked out six concepts that in the future can serve as a basis for interested multipliers who themselves offer workshops and want to use the games developed here. Apart from all the content that was generated we had a really good time in Turkey and got to know a lot of great young people.
Anyone following European politics has come across debates about the EU’s pros and cons and about the direction it should take. But how do you get young people to engage with it at school and elsewhere? For some time, we’ve had many good analogue concepts – and now there is a strong digital addition: The Union Laboratory (in German)!
You can play online via your smartphone. With just a few clicks, the teacher creates the required number of games, and after logging in, five players create their own EU. Assuming the roles of European heads of government, they try to figure out how cooperation works – or not. Over several rounds they determine the fate of the union. At the national level they decide alone, at European summits they decide together what measures they want to take to help their country and the EU move forward.
No group has the same negotiation tactics, each union develops its own unique game dynamics. After 45 minutes of playing time, the comparative evaluation shows that in some groups the players are more interested in their own advantage, in others there is more solidarity, and European measures are taken with the aim of supporting the weak. Changes of perspective and conflict management skills are trained in a playful way. The focus, however, is on the ability to form one’s own opinion on European cooperation.
In just a few weeks, over 500 participants have already founded 100 European “Unions”. One student has summed up her experience as follows: “The Union Laboratory is great fun, but no wonder you can’t agree in the EU, it really only works when people compromise”.
A huge thank-you for this great cooperation goes to our clients who have entrusted us with the development of this innovative educational format: the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation. If you’re interested in the Union Laboratory, give it a try – in a free test game or by taking it straight to class!
… is a question that has sometimes caused confusion within our office in recent months. The answer is: Europe Direct Information Center – local information points of the Europe-wide network Europe Direct. This interface between the EU and its citizens offers information, documentation centres and speakers on specialist topics in each EU Member State. It provides quick answers to questions about the rights of EU citizens, programmes and funding opportunities in the EU, and opportunities for young people in the EU. It also ensures quick access to EU publications and documents.
Since the summer of 2018, EDIC Berlin has been operated on behalf of the European Commission by the Berliner Regional Centre for Political Education, (LzpB) supported by our colleagues from EuropaBeratung Berlin as an associated partner. As an event provider, planpolitik is part of the Berlin EDIC network. In September 2018, the first simulation game took place in the premises of the LzpB right by Berlin Zoo. We hope many more will follow!
Further information can be found on the new website www.edic-berlin.info. In the section “Interactions” you can find EU-political delicacies cooked up by planpolitik, e.g. the interactive test “Which EU type are you?” (in German).
For the second time, we held simulation games at the beginning of October as part of the Federal Government’s unification celebrations. After Mainz last year, this year it was State of Berlin’s turn to host the festivities. At the associated citizens’ fair, visitors had the opportunity to assume the roles of ministers, state secretaries and even the Federal Chancellor in the Federal Government tent – directly opposite the Federal Chancellery – during our simulation game “Federal Cabinet”. 800 + participants were full of enthusiasm when emerging from the simulation tent after the game. To most participants, the game really drove home how difficult government work is and how important it is to be willing to compromise.
There were two very special visitors. When Franziska Giffey, Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, stopped by our tent, she immediately stated: “It’s the cabinet table”. And at exactly that cabinet table sat a second Minister Giffey, who in this particular case was a man negotiating the question of whether anonymous job application procedures should be introduced in order to achieve greater equality of opportunity. In a relaxed conversation, Franziska Giffey explained the government’s work and allowed the participants to look into her full working day just as much as Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, did a short time later. He also answered questions and gave feedback which parts of the simulation game were realistic and which parts were are different in everyday government life. Shortly after the event, we received confirmation that next year in Kiel, Germany, the day of German reunification 2019 will once again feature our simulation game. And the government ministers!