The Democratic Leadership and Innovation Academy is one of the programs with the most impact in Humanist Political Culture & Democracy. In this section, you will learn about the objectives, methodologies and technologies used, among other details of the project.
Democracy is being called into question not only by citizens who do not trust regional institutions, but also by political leaders with populist leanings across the ideological spectrum, who undermine the democratic institutions and political processes of the Rule of Law. A survey from the IADB shows that support for democracy fell to 48% in 2018 from 61% in 2010.
It is a complex global context of increasing social and political polarization, especially so in Latin America, where democracy is in crisis, not just for the presence of authoritarian regimes in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua or those prone to limit civil liberties, such as those in Bolivia and Honduras, but also because some governments, e.g. in Mexico and Brazil, have leaders whose discourse occasionally distorts the value of the division of powers and legal compliance. According to Latinobarómetro, only 5% of citizens claim the region is fully democratic, whereas 45% acknowledge the democratic system has major issues. Indifference is particularly high among young people aged 16-26, another warning sign for the future. As political parties are weakened in a region where, according to Latinobarómetro, six out of ten people would not vote for a political party, young students, professionals, politicians and other members of civil society must urgently gather to contribute ideas and projects to address the crisis.
Societies evolve and so should the political system, hence the need to develop a permanent space for reflection and innovation, so those democratic institutions that are undermined by corruption, fraud and abuses of power today may become stronger and address social demands. Politics have remained virtually unchanged for 100 years. We are citizens in the 21st century trying to communicate with each other through institutions of the 20th century based on processes and ideas of the 19th century. We cannot understand government without understanding civic responsibility first and the fact that occasional voting cannot be our only interaction with democracy and our governments. New information and communication technologies, digitalization and artificial intelligence are challenging governments to modernize and join initiatives such as Open Government Partnership, and citizens to increase their engagement in the available public spaces and demand new areas to make an impact.
Latin America’s political culture needs to change. Humanist Political Culture & Democracy was born in 2018 to address that need, with a multidisciplinary team of professionals and intellectuals, with expertise on civil society and political parties, to support a space for democratic innovation in Latin America.
The Democratic Leadership and Innovation Academy was created in 2018 as part of the Women for Democracy program, a joint initiative from Humanist Political Culture & Democracy and Sweden’s Christian Democratic International Center (KIC) to train 250 leading women from Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Also in 2018, 1,500 members of trade unions from the Argentinian provinces of Tucumán, San Luis, Santa Fé, Jujuy and Buenos Aires took part in the Union Training program imparted together with Argentina’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security. In 2019, a series of open-space conferences called Quo Vadis Democracia were held in the National University of Córdoba and the University of Buenos Aires’ Law School under the Youths for Democracy program, implementing participative and collective-intelligence methodologies developed in the Academy.
Furthermore, young members of political parties took part in trainings in 2019-2020 in cooperation with Instituto Hannah Arendt de Formación Cultural y Política (Argentina), Red Renovación Democrática Ciudadana (Bolivia), Primero Justicia (Venezuela) y Unidad Azul y Blanco (Nicaragua).
Whether it is young people, women, members of political parties or trade unions, or community leaders, the Academy seeks to foster a concept of leadership based on humanist values, with an innovative view that provides answers to the complex current scenario.
The Academy aims to provide participants with an attractive, dynamic and interactive learning experience, where topics of interest are discussed according to their individual needs, in depth but also striking a balance between theory and practice. The goal is to provide them with solid innovative content based on two pillars – intellectual reflection and active experience (“Thinking and Doing”) – to think about viable alternatives for building a freer, fairer democratic society, as well as the tools they need to carry out their academic, professional, political and communitary projects. The Academy also seeks to encourage critical thought and civic engagement in actions that contribute to the common good.
The Academy is strongly oriented toward practical experiences and provides guidance for project implementation. Therefore, members get tools and are mentored and coached so they can carry out their projects.
The Academy’s goals are oriented by the mission of Humanist Political Culture & Democracy, a civil society organization devoted to research, training and support for civic initiatives that help strengthen a humanist political culture. Aiming to promote democracy and protect fundamental rights based on values such as solidarity and the subsidiarity principle, where people are at the core, social life is organized via intermediary groups such as civil society organizations and the State is oriented toward the common good.
Teachers will use proven andragogical methodologies oriented toward smart collaboration, working with emerging representatives of the groups’ collective intelligence and strongly focusing on conceptual innovation practices. Session design is likewise innovative, with strong multimedia, ludic and experiential elements. Expositive-exclusive formats are not used. Workshops include spaces for discovery, individual/collective reflection and corporal/emotional engagement.
➽Project-Based Learning (PBL): Knowledge acquisition to help participants master tools such as communication, agile methodologies, design thinking and other competences required to implement projects where they seek to creatively solve problems in their community.
➽Game-Based Learning (PBL): Using games and group dynamics oriented by an enabler or a teacher to boost participation in the learning process. The game sets a goal, a problem to be solved, specific rules, teamwork and an individual challenge. It provides higher engagement than more traditional methodologies, improving the learning of content and lessons. A classic PBL example is roleplay.
➽Collaborative Learning, i.e. group learning dynamics to help master collaborative planning, team management and alliance management.
Training from the back of the room ® | Crossover & Incidental Learning | Action Learning | | Open Space Conferences | World Cafe | Pro-action Cafe | Roleplay | Debates, Roundtables | Masterclasses | Mentorships and Tutorials |
Courses are tailored by the degree of familiarity with the concepts, how deeply participants wish to dive in each topic and personal/institutional needs.
➽On Demand: Courses with flexible scheduling/location and quality technology and content. Sessions are recorded, allowing participants to choose when to begin; a teacher or mentor will be available to answer doubts.
➽In-Company: Courses tailored to the organization’s growth needs and each team member’s competence development needs. These are organized on-demand according to the time and space available to the organization where the training will be held.
Through its platform, the Democratic Leadership and Innovation Academy acts as a community for virtual learning and knowledge construction based on the Maker (DIY) philosophy, which encourages logical thinking and experimentation and argues that everyone can be creative. This can be achieved through the democratization of knowledge and collective intelligence by participating in Democracy Labs.
Every September, to celebrate the International Day of Democracy (September 15th), the Academy holds the Democracy Camp, a space to encourage debate and the exchange of ideas and experiences to lay out concepts and proposals through tools facilitated by experts, in an interactive, self-managed way.
During this period, the Democracy Camp Virtual Campus sets up workstations that develop a topic, aiming not only to train participants, but also inform them, providing them with concepts and ideas to reflect on the subject. Each station becomes an information pod with audio, video and infographics. They are flexible; participants may stay in one as long as they want and then go to another one in no particular order. Every September the Camp features training, conversations with experts and special guests and spaces for reflection on the system and also on one’s own role as a leader, as in a spiritual retreat. It is, indeed, a space for coexistence that seeks to create community bonds and a reflective environment to drive innovative ideas that bring about the desired cultural change and renew democratic institutions as demanded by civil society.
The virtual campus supports every device, making it easy to watch classes, download learning materials and interact with colleagues and teachers from Latin America.
Modules may be coordinated to be taught synchronously or asynchronously in order to better suit the participants’ schedules.
Anyone seeking to boost their leadership capabilities in their workplace, political party, trade union or civil society organization – young people, women, trade union members, activists, politicians, community leaders, etc.