Democratic Leadership and Innovation Academy

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.

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Context and Rationale

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 Latinobar贸metro, 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 Latinobar贸metro, 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鈥檚 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 Academy and Humanist Political Culture & Democracy

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鈥檚 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 Tucum谩n, San Luis, Santa F茅, Jujuy and Buenos Aires took part in the Union Training program imparted together with Argentina鈥檚 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 C贸rdoba and the University of Buenos Aires鈥 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 Formaci贸n Cultural y Pol铆tica (Argentina), Red Renovaci贸n Democr谩tica 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 (鈥淭hinking and Doing鈥) – 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鈥檚 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.



General Objective:

  • Contributing to the development of a new national/international democratic paradigm by using technological progress ethically and fostering a political culture of solidarity and accountable civic engagement.

Specific Goals:

  • Creating spaces and instances to reflect on the course of democracy and which actions civil society can take to contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutionality in Latin America.
  • Raising awareness among the youth, women, members of trade unions and political parties, community leaders and civil society in general of the importance of taking responsibility and actively and peacefully participating in political processes for the construction of a democratic culture.


  • Learning pods and tools for young people to use as a means to spread values instead of just positioning politicians.
  • Debates between young people on democratic institutions and civic engagement in Latin America from the standpoint of philosophy and political praxis.
  • Reflecting on the new challenges for democracy in the 21st century, with guest philosophers, sociologists, political scientists and intellectuals.


5 Courses of Action

  • Technical and Value-based Training: Training and knowledge-exchange activities and practical tools to empower young leaders with greater commitment to political processes.
  • Idea Incubator: A space for constructive debate between young people and renowned intellectuals about the democratic system.
  • Democratic Lab:聽 A campus for creating and tracking political/social innovation projects.
  • Cross-generational/Cross-industry Discussions: A space for young people to exchange experiences with experienced politicians, representatives of different industries and public/private agents.
  • Political Impact: Acquisition of communication tools and training on their ethical use to have a greater impact in the decision making process of political parties, national governments and international organisms.


Collaborative and Innovative Methodologies

Teachers will use proven andragogical methodologies oriented toward smart collaboration, working with emerging representatives of the groups鈥 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.

鉃絇roject-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.

鉃紾ame-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.

鉃紺ollaborative Learning, i.e. group learning dynamics to help master collaborative planning, team management and alliance management.


Social and Andragogical Technologies

Training from the back of the room 庐 | Crossover & Incidental Learning | Action Learning | | Open Space Conferences | World Cafe | Pro-action Cafe | Roleplay | Debates, Roundtables | Masterclasses | Mentorships and Tutorials |聽



Courses are tailored by the degree of familiarity with the concepts, how deeply participants wish to dive in each topic and personal/institutional needs.

鉃絆n 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.

鉃絀n-Company: Courses tailored to the organization鈥檚 growth needs and each team member鈥檚 competence development needs. These are organized on-demand according to the time and space available to the organization where the training will be held.


鈥淒emocracy Camp鈥 Virtual Campus

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鈥檚 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鈥 schedules.



Key topics:

  • Leadership:
    • Humanist, Value-oriented Leadership.
    • Teamwork and Mass Movement.
    • Emotional and Multicultural Intelligence.
    • Bargaining, Dialog and Alliance Management.
    • Female Leadership in Politics and Society.
    • Communication:
      • Communication Centered in Democratic Values.
      • How to Better Convey your Ideas.
      • Internet of Things, AI and Cybersecurity.
      • Social Media and Political Impact.
      • Argument and Debate.
  • Management
    • Design Thinking (Human Centered Design)
    • Agile Methodologies applied to Project Management.
    • Impact Assessment.
  • Politics:
    • Democratic Institutions – Structure and Operation.
    • Defending the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights.
    • Democratic and Public Policy Innovation.
    • Public Ethics and Democratic Values.
    • Values and Principles of Christian Humanism.
    • Fighting Corruption and Organized Crime.
    • Civic Engagement.
    • Gamification: Democracy as a Game.
  • Economics and Development:
    • Social Market Economics.
    • Regional Integration, Competitiveness and International Cooperation.



  • Strategic Planning.
  • Networking and Alliance Management.
  • Media Training.
  • Gamification.
  • Agile Methodologies.
  • Democracy Lab.
  • Research Tools for Developing Ideas (Focus Groups, Brainstorming Sessions, Case Analysis) .


Target Audience:

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.