The European Studies master’s programme at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) has been a goldmine for planpolitik in terms of European expertise. Our entire European team, Helen Böhmler, Annegret Menden and Charlotte Wiesenthal, studied there. Two of them and also Alex Kuschel (from the Democracy and Society department) as well as several freelancers had their first encounter with our small company when, as students, they took part in our EU seminar at that same university.
But not only do we regularly present events on Europe at Viadrina University, we also prepare European topics interactively for students of FU Berlin, Leuphana University Lüneburg or the Online Masters course at Centre international de Formation uropéenne (CIFE) – often in a combination of online simulation with a concluding on-site event.
What works with students also works at schools! We’re currently experiencing high demand for the modular workshop “Future of the EU”, our classic on the COD (Ordinary Legislative Procedure) and the simulation game “European Election”. It’s always a particular pleasure to carry out our primary school simulation games during which kids aged 8 and over passionately discuss European issues such as animal welfare and food safety using child-friendly graphics.
Addressing similar topics on a different level, our EU simulation games at the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin bring together young professionals from a wide range of backgrounds. The games provide an insight into the structure, actors and dynamics of what is commonly referred to as EU lobbying. In Thuringia, we also deal with the representation of interests at the European level: twice a year, we organise a three-day seminar with Thuringian state officials, during which we try together to find a way through the jungle of responsibilities that is Brussels.
Whether it’s for youngsters, students or (young) professionals, planpolitik’s Europe department has an event format on offer for practically every target group. Below, you can read more on the long-term European projects that have taken place in recent months.
Together with our long-standing partner, the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe, we launched the portal Europa unterrichten (“Teaching Europe“) (europa-unterrichten.de) at the beginning of 2019. It provides materials (in German) for interactive workshops and participatory teaching and is aimed at both teachers and trainers in non-formal education.
The current edition revolves around the forthcoming European elections. There are eight modules to choose from, depending on the learning objective, method, duration of implementation and preparation effort, including a jigsaw puzzle featuring EU institutions, and a simulation game on “Avoiding plastic waste”. All activities last between 30 and 135 minutes, the preparation time for the modules usually amounts to a maximum of 20 minutes. Our materials strengthen competences and knowledge in the areas of “recognition”, “analysis” and “judgement”.
With just a few clicks you can download the free materials. Each module is explained in a short manual, while a more detailed manual suggests target-group-specific module combinations. The methods are designed for groups of up to 30 people and young people aged 15 and over, but are also suitable for younger and older adults!
Yet another major EU project! Having started in February 2019, we are conducting our Engage with Europe workshop 48 times throughout Germany on behalf of the European Commission Representation in Germany.
Engage with Europe is taking the debate on the future of the EU to schools, training facilities and youth institutions. The workshop looks at current and future developments in European policy. What are the challenges facing the European Union? What are possible future perspectives? What do young people associate with the EU and what future do they want for Europe?
There are four main topics (Asylum & Migration, Economy & Climate, Peace & Security, Digital Future) to choose from, along which fundamental aspects and dynamics of European politics can be explored. The modular structure of the interactive workshop allows for a varied exploration of the topic and places the participants at the centre.
The duration of the workshop is approx. five hours and is aimed at school groups of all school types from the 10th grade onwards as well as trainees and young people from other institutions from the age of 16. The possible group size is between 15 and 30 participants.
On the project website www.engagewith.eu you will find further information (in German) as well as a contact form for requesting a free event (in Germany). We will then contact you to discuss availability and possible dates.
Senaryon, our platform for online simulation games, is celebrating another premiere: At Euro FH Hamburg, BA students reading International Business Administration are taking part in the online simulation game “Green Europe? Lobbying in the European Union using the example of EU climate policy”. This time, they are not only playing for fame and glory, but also to score 6 ECTS points. After all, the two-week online simulation is a regular part of the course.
To this end, the Senaryon moderation area was expanded, enabling the employees of the Euro FH to evaluate the students’ activities and contributions using a task system. The linking of the activating gaming experience with the evaluation phase consolidates the learning process and contributes to applying what has been learned theoretically to a concrete example.
The high degree of participation proves the innovative approach right: All students are active well beyond the specified semester hours per week and jointly develop a guideline for the reduction of greenhouse gases in transport.
Only a few months after its launch with 150 participants, we are happy to announce that our Union laboratory has been a resounding success. Since launching, the online simulation has been played more than 170 times, drawing more than 1,000 young people into our European experiment. In the Union Laboratory, pupils* from the age of 15 years onwards design their very own EU in just 45 minutes. They do so by assuming the roles of European heads of state, playing with numbers, trends and options and thus getting a direct sense of the impact their decisions could have on the development of the Union.
Solidarity or going it alone – all paths are possible. Each time, however, the event (which was commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation) runs in a different way, training participants to change perspectives, deal with conflicts while drawing their own conclusions about European cooperation. For everything there is to know about the Union Laboratory as well as a free test game, go to unionslabor.de (in German).
When hate speech spreads on the Internet, people often respond by attempting to refute the toxic narrative, the lies, the hatred. But how does one manage to place alternative, hopeful narratives on the Internet beyond refutation? The Netzteufel project by Evangelische Akademie Berlin deals with questions of suitable content and digital forms of implementation.
In September 2018, 25 participants were invited from all over Germany to the Berlin island of Schwanenwerder to tackle exactly this question over a two-day design thinking workshop. For a change, planpolitik was primarily active behind the scenes. In cooperation with the project’s leaders, we developed the workshop concept, conducted a one-day design thinking training course for the four speakers and created a detailed list containing all kinds of tips and tricks for the work groups. On the two days of the event, we were present as method coaches – usually a rewarding role, especially when the general mood and creativity are good and everything runs smoothly. Over the course of the event, the method worked its magic, leading participants away from constant writing and towards brainstorming, drawing and making things, coupled with continuous feedback loops during which ideas and both analog and digital prototypes were tested by users. The result was a colourful mix of digital prototypes that brought the themes of gender, homosexuality, Islam and refugees into harmony with the Word of God.
For some time now, the EU project #TEVIP has been an integral part of our European department’s agenda. The acronym stands for “Translating European Values into Practice”, and that is exactly what we have set out to do together with the project’s partner organisations. What does the term “values” actually mean, and what exactly are “European values”? How can we make these, often abstract European values tangible for young people?
With the aim of exploring these and other questions from a transnational perspective, the first “Youth Mobility” meeting of the project took place in August 2018 in Poronin, Poland. Taking part were 38 young and highly motivated people from Poland, Italy and Germany. In cooperation with with Youth of Europe, the main partner organisation responsible for the “Mobility” aspect, newly developed interactive formats were put to the test and refined based on feedback from the participants. There were lively discussions about different interpretations and the realisation of values such as solidarity, freedom or equality. Another hot topic was the question of a European identity. There was a good reason why the whole thing took place in the vicinity of the Tatra Mountains and the popular town of Zakopane: to ensure plenty of activating outdoor fun. We are now entering the next TEVIP phases with a new motivation boost!
The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) determines the development agenda of the United Nations until the year 2030. What is special about them is that the SDGs do not only refer to traditional development policy, i.e. the fight against hunger, poverty or a lack of education, but also focus on virtually every area of political trade. This includes issues such as gender equality, fair wages, the fight against climate change, and good governance – not only in developing countries, but also in industrialised countries and emerging economies.
It is not an easy topic to make tangible and understandable in a game. Especially since the target group and format of the game are rather unusual for us. The game is intended for officers of the Bundeswehr who are trained in development issues by our client Engagement Global. The format is a classic game board with score boards, game chips, lap counters and dice.
Four people represent an industrialised country, an emerging market country and two developing countries. The players draw action cards, spend money on political measures and negotiate mutual aid or joint responses to crises. The difficult bit is that if not all countries make at least some progress, they all lose! After very successful tests, we were able to hand over the game to Engagement Global in October 2018; game set production is currently underway.
Merhaba Eskişehir! In November the project “Global Playgrounds – From Design to Practice” of the German-Turkish Youth Bridge took place for the third time, this time in the capital of Anatolia. Our partners at German-Türkische Jugendbrücke and at youth organisation TOY, which is active locally in Eskişehir, were also involved. In the last two years young people from Turkey and Germany had developed games to help with the integration of refugees. This time was all about developing workshop concepts for the use of these games. Over the course of three and a half days, 24 young adults from Germany and Turkey worked out six concepts that in the future can serve as a basis for interested multipliers who themselves offer workshops and want to use the games developed here. Apart from all the content that was generated we had a really good time in Turkey and got to know a lot of great young people.
Anyone following European politics has come across debates about the EU’s pros and cons and about the direction it should take. But how do you get young people to engage with it at school and elsewhere? For some time, we’ve had many good analogue concepts – and now there is a strong digital addition: The Union Laboratory (in German)!
You can play online via your smartphone. With just a few clicks, the teacher creates the required number of games, and after logging in, five players create their own EU. Assuming the roles of European heads of government, they try to figure out how cooperation works – or not. Over several rounds they determine the fate of the union. At the national level they decide alone, at European summits they decide together what measures they want to take to help their country and the EU move forward.
No group has the same negotiation tactics, each union develops its own unique game dynamics. After 45 minutes of playing time, the comparative evaluation shows that in some groups the players are more interested in their own advantage, in others there is more solidarity, and European measures are taken with the aim of supporting the weak. Changes of perspective and conflict management skills are trained in a playful way. The focus, however, is on the ability to form one’s own opinion on European cooperation.
In just a few weeks, over 500 participants have already founded 100 European “Unions”. One student has summed up her experience as follows: “The Union Laboratory is great fun, but no wonder you can’t agree in the EU, it really only works when people compromise”.
A huge thank-you for this great cooperation goes to our clients who have entrusted us with the development of this innovative educational format: the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation. If you’re interested in the Union Laboratory, give it a try – in a free test game or by taking it straight to class!