Democracy: From Theory to Practice is an innovative and interactive university-level civic education course designed to meet these goals.
The course encompasses three key elements:
1.the curriculum and course materials;
2.interactive teaching methods;
3.a student action project.
The course curriculum and text materials are based on theoretical, historical and practical knowledge. The knowledge-based component of the course is built around four main themes:democratic governance, human rights, civil society, and citizen engagement. Cross-cutting themes include: gender equality, elections, minority rights, inclusion of and accessibility for persons with disabilities, enfranchisement, good governance, rule of law, media literacy, digital participation, diversity, the role of money in politics, the role of youth and corruption.
To strengthen students’ skills (including, but not limited to, critical thinking, active listening, consensus building, public speaking, group work and problem solving), IFES’ civic education initiative emphasizes the primacy of interactive teaching methodology that is focused on active learning in the classroom. Course professors receive training son interactive teaching methods through a series of IFES-led, continuous professional development sessions with national and international experts.
The capstone component of the course is a student action project. Through a step-by-step,guided process, students identify an issue in society that they recognize as problematic.The students then research the issue and apply course topics to an analysis of the issue.Students then devise an action plan to address the issue. This first-hand experience is designed to foster democratic values and attitudes while strengthening the knowledge and skills necessary for active, informed citizenship in a democracy.
The “Democracy: From Theory to Practice” course is based on IFES’ global, university-level civic education methodology, Strengthening Engagement through Education for Democracy (SEED).Through SEED, IFES has worked with universities and education specialists in Georgia and Ukraine to develop fully-accredited university-level curricula to introduce citizens to fundamental concepts of democratic citizenship, systems of government, civic participation and human rights, while building capacity through hands-on, real-world learning experiences. In Ukraine,the course is implemented through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and UK aid from the UK government. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the course will expand to 20 universities from 12 regions of Ukraine.