Civic Engagement - Participatory Card Games
Participatory card games such as Democs (Deliberative meeting of citizens) enable small groups of citizens to learn about and debate complex issues.
The process was originally designed for adults, but a pilot study in 2005 led to the development of a number of Democs sets specifically designed for schools (Year 9 and above).
The topics tend to be scientific, political or ethical in nature and the process encourages those involved to express a preferred policy option following their deliberations.
As well as asking participants to express policy preferences, the Democs process was designed to support learning and deliberation around a specific issue, and to enable the sharing of experience and values between participants.
Participatory card games can be played anywhere, and by anyone. The typical process involves an initial period of learning in which participants engage with a range of information and views through the use of story cards, followed by additional information and issues cards.
Players then spend some time analysing the cards to look for links, discuss areas of agreement or disagreement, and start to consider implications.
The final stage involves participants making a decision by voting on and rating specific policy positions, with the aim of forming a consensus position if possible.
In 2013, the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) used a Democs game as part of its public dialogue on bioenergy.
The game formed part of a toolkit to encourage researchers and members of the public to engage in a national conversation about bioenergy, although the Democs game primarily focused on biofuels.
The outputs were fed into the dialogue report alongside findings from various other channels of engagement – the report explored public hopes and concerns for bioenergy, and focused on some key areas for researchers to consider as part of future work on bioenergy.
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