Promoting citizen’s participation

Promoting citizen’s participation

Developed by Université du Citoyen

L’Université du Citoyen works closely with citizens, professionals, and public institution to create space and opportunities for participatory citizenship. With rising abstention rates, issues of citizenship and democracy have formed an increasingly important part of our work over the past few years. For l’Université du Citoyen, every person has knowledge on his living environment and ideas for improve it. Therefore, every citizen is a resource in the development of everything related to public action.


In this project, the University of Citizens has used two methods it develops through its various projects:

– The citizen workshop

– The game-workshop “Democracy: How does it work?”


  1. The citizen workshop




The citizen workshop have the purpose of support a group of citizen sharing the same concern or having a common problem, on a short or long period :

It’s a space where we propose to citizens:

– Coaching and training around the construction of a collective reflection and/or the construction of a collective project.

– Identifying and meeting with resources persons and/or policy makers.

– Training to speak in front of public.




– Develop and extend citizens knowledge.

– Building a collective reflection, transform ideas and propositions to a project, and then develop citizen’s skills.

– Allow citizens to identify areas of decision making, prepare and support citizens in these spaces.


How does it work?


A citizen workshop takes 2 or 3 hours and is built around different step:


Step Modality Goals
1.Introduction Roundtable, remind to participant theme, rules, and appointment of a spokesman and a secretary of the group. Create a climate of trust between participants, create a climate of coproduction.
2. Exchanges Discussion around the theme Identify the knowledge of participants, their needs of information and propositions
3. Report construction Construction of a collective reflexion (observations, questions and proposals).


Role of the facilitator (Université du Citoyen):

– Regulation of speech,

– Helping participate to formulate or reformulate their words,

– Put question on individuals situation,

– Ensure the participation and understanding of each participant,

– Regulate emotion,

– Ensure the participants takes notes and the collective construction of the report around the scheme: findings, questions, subjects of reflexion to go forward and propositions.


  1. The game-workshop “Democracy: how does it work?”

Increasing abstention calls into question the legitimacy of our representatives and their ability to respond to citizens’ needs and concerns. Unless addressed swiftly, this situation is a risk to our democracy. People abstain from voting for many reasons. For us, one reason is a lack of understanding of how political institutions work, the role they play, and how important they are in our daily lives. Take the last municipal elections, for example, in which only 57.3 percent of voters turned out in Marseille, less than the national rate of 62 percent.


Deeper knowledge and access to information are essential in allowing civic and political participation, so we an educational workshop for ages 16+ titled “Democracy : how does it work?”


Objectives of the workshop for the participant


  • Better understand the functioning of our democracy.


  • Mobilize the citizens to exercise their voting right.


Process of the workshop


1st part – Presentation


Presentation of Université du Citoyen goals and presentation of the workshop


2nd part – How is functioning the democracy


Introduction on the democracy with the help of 3 panels (the democracy, the legislative power and the executive power) which must be filled by the participants distributed in three teams (one for each panel) and presented to the others groups (see presentation of each panel’s contents in the appendices).


This first part of the workshop allows beginning to understand the functioning of the democracy, to exchange and to discuss, with also the support of 4 other panels: “the citizenship “,” The republican devise “, “The constitution “,” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “.


3rd part – Practice


  • First election giving a majority between two sides (circle and square) with a high level of abstention.


  • Implementation of a government and the two assemblies (1st and 2nd chambers).

By leaving of the result of the elections, every participant plays a role in the government or in the parliament. The elected representatives of the parliament propose a law and the government members bring in a bill. Finally, they proceed to the vote which highlights the majority tendency of the result of the 1st election.


  • Debate and exchanges on: “how to invert the tendency?” 


  • Second election with the right of participant to vote or not, with the implementation of a new government and the two assemblies.


4th part – Debate and evaluation


  • Analysis of the workshop (especially the practice part) and exchange with the participant and with distribute to each participant the book “The democracy: how it is working”.
  • Distribution of the evaluation form to each participant in the way to analyze the process of the workshop, the acquisition of knowledge on “how the French democracy is working?” and the impact of the workshop on the exercise of the voting right.





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