ASTK18321U Democratic Innovations and Civic Participation

Volume 2020/2021



!! The structure of this course will be blended !! 


Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


At the presentation of the new EU Commission, the president-elect Ursula von der Leyen said: Democracy is more than voting in elections every 5 years. It is about having your voice heard and being able to participate in the way society is built.

This course explores whether and how it is possible for citizens to get their voice heard and participate in society via democratic innovations, i.e. methods of engaging civil society in decision-making processes in between elections. It is about the methodology of translating democratic theory into practice or institutionalizing normative commitments.

Throughout the course, the students will work with democratic theories and methods and the latter’s application on both different levels (from local to international) and in different parts of the political decision-making process (from opinion formation to implementation). This includes, among other things, theories of deliberative, republican, and radical democracy and methods such as participatory budgeting (applied to let citizens prioritize public spending in Brazil), citizens’ assembly (applied in the process of legalizing abortion in Ireland and mentioned in the Danish climate law), consensus conferences (applied in the legislation on gene technology in Denmark) etc. – for more examples see or

The aim of the course is to enable the students to critically assess, design, and apply engaging and innovative democratic decision-making processes based on an in-depth conceptual understanding of democracy.

Learning Outcome


Students will gain a deeper knowledge of:

  • Competing conceptions of democracy
  • Democratic methods for engaging civil society
  • The main cases of democratic innovation at different levels and parts of the political decision-making process



Students will train their skills of:

  • Comparing and analyzing competing theoretical perspectives on democracy
  • Translating democratic theory into practice by applying methods for civic engagement
  • Designing democratic decision-making processes



Students will be able to:

  • Reflect on the strength and weaknesses of different democratic innovations and methods
  • Assess the degree to which a decision-making process is democratic from a theoretical perspective
  • Critically assess which democratic methods fit which types of challenges and problems

Preliminary reading list:


Andersen, I. and B. Jæger (1999) ‘Danish Participatory Models. Scenario Workshops and Consensus Conferences: Towards More Democratic Decision-making’, Science and Public Policy, 26(5), 331–40


Arendt, Hannah (2015) On Revolution


Baiocchi, G. (2001) ‘Participation, Activism, and Politics: The Porto Alegre Experiment and Deliberative Democratic Theory’, Politics & Society, 29(1), 43–72.


Benhabib, Seyla (1996) Democracy and Difference


Bevir, Mark & Bowman, Quinlan (2011) ‘Innovations in Democratic Governance’. In A.-V. Anttiroiko et al. (Eds.) Innovations in Public Governance


Barnes, Marian (2008) ‘Passionate Participation: Emotional Experiences and Expressions in deliberative forums’ Critical Social Policy, Vol.28(4), pp.461-481


Crosby, Ned and Doug Nethercut 2005. ‘Citizens’ Juries: Creating a Trustworthy Voice of the People’, in John Gastil and Peter Levine (eds.) The Deliberative Democracy Handbook: Strategies for Effective Civic Engagement in the 21st Century.


Dahlberg, Lincoln (2012) ‘Radical Democracy’. In Isakhan, Benjamin & Stockwell (Eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy


Dienel, Peter and Ortwin Renn 1995. ‘Planning Cells: A Gate to “Fractal” Mediation’, in Ortwin Renn, Thomas Webler and Peter Wiedemann (eds.) Fairness and Competence in Citizen Participation: Evaluating Models for Environmental Discourse.


Farrell, David M.; Suiter, Jane & Harris, Clodagh (2019) ‘Systematizing’

constitutional deliberation: the 2016–18 citizens’ assembly in Ireland, Irish Political Studies, 34:1, 113-123


Fishkin, James S. (1991) Democracy and Deliberation.


Fishkin, J. (2009) When the People Speak. Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation.


Fishkin, J. & Farrar, C. (2005) Deliberative Polling: From Experiment to Community Resource. In: J. Gastil & P. Levine (Eds.) The Deliberative Democracy Handbook. Strategies for Effective Citizen Engagement in the 21st Century,


Fung, A. (2003) ‘Recipes for Public Spheres: Eight Institutional Design Choices and their Consequences’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 11(3), 338–67.


Fung, Archon & Olin Wright, Erik (2003) Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance


Goodin, Robert E. and John S. Dryzek 2006. ‘Deliberative Impact: The Macro-Political Uptake of Mini-Publics’, Politics and Society34: 1–26.


Grönlund, K., M. Setälä and K. Herne (2010), ‘Deliberation and Civic Virtue: Lessons from a Citizen Deliberation Experiment’, European Political Science Review, 2(1), 95–117.


Habermas, Jürgen (1990) Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action


Habermas, Jürgen (1994) Three Normative Models of Democracy


Hansen, K. M. (2010), ‘The Equality Paradox of Deliberative Democracy: Evidence from a National Deliberative Poll’, in K. Ikeda, L. Morales and M.Wolf (eds), Political Discussion in Modern Democracies, London: Routledge, pp: 26–43.


Hansen, Kasper M. & Rostbøll, Christian F. (2012) ‘Deliberative Democracy’. In Isakhan, Benjamin & Stockwell (Eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy


Hendriks, C. (2005) Consensus Conferences and Planning Cells: Lay Citizen Deliberations. In: J. Gastil & P. Levine (Eds.) The Deliberative Democracy Handbook. Strategies for Effective Citizen Engagement in the 21st Century


Joss, Simon 1998. ‘Danish Consensus Conferences as a Model of Participatory Technology Assessment: An Impact Study of Consensus Conferences on Danish Parliament and Danish Public Debate’, Science and Public Policy25: 2–22.


Laclau, E., and C. Mouffe (1985) Hegemony and socialist strategy. Towards a radical democratic politics


Lafont, C. (2015) ‘Deliberation, participation and democratic legitimacy: Should deliberative minipublics shape public policy?’ Journal of Political Philosophy 23(1): 40–63.


Lang, A. (2007) But Is It for Real? The British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly as a Model of State-Sponsored Citizen Empowerment. Politics and Society 35(1), 35–69.


Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira (2004) Democracy and Public Management Reform: Building the Republican State


Matthew Mendelsohn and Andrew Parkin (2001) Referendum Democracy: Citizens, Elites, and Deliberation in Referendum Campaigns


Luskin, R. C., J. S. Fishkin and R. Jowell (2002), ‘Considered Opinions: Deliberative Polling in Britain’, British Journal of Political Science, 32(3), 455–87.


Pitkin, Hannah (1967) The Concept of Representation


Rancierre, Jacque (2006) Hatred of Democracy


Shah, Anwar (2007) Participatory Budgeting


Shmuel, Lederman (2018) ‘Hannah Arendt, the Council System and Contemporary Political Theory’. In Shmuel, Lederman & Muldoon, James (Eds.) Council Democracy


Sintomer, Yves; Herzberg, Carsten; Röcke, Anja (2008) ‘Participatory Budgeting in Europe: Potentials and Challenges’

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol.32(1), pp.164-178


Smith, Graham (2010) Democratic Innovations: Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation


Smith, Graham & Wales, Corinne (2000) ‘Citizens Jury and Deliberative Democracy’ Political Studies, Vol.48(1), pp.51-65


Warren, Mark E. and Hilary Pearse (eds.) 2008a. Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly.

The course will consist of a combination of lectures, student presentations and discussions, and possibly talks by guest lecturers.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free assignment
Exam registration requirements

Free written assignment

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner