Critical Youth Citizenship

Since 2017, JUGEND für Europa, the National Agency (Germany) for the EU programmes Erasmus+ Youth in Action and the European Solidarity Corps, has engaged on the issue of the political dimension in youth work, particularly within the framework of European youth programmes.

2017 - The starting point: The European conference ‘Speak UP! Step UP! European youth work empowering young people’s democratic values & active citizenship’

October 2017, Berlin: JUGEND für Europa, in cooperation with SALTO South East Europe Resource Centre (SALTO SEE) and several National Agencies of the Erasmus+ Youth in Action, organised this European conference on the practice, impact and future role of European youth work in promoting the democratic values and active citizenship of young people in Europe.

The conference reflected on how EUropean youth programmes foster participation in democratic life, civic engagement, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and solidarity. Moreover, it explored up to which extent the programmes shape young people’s political literacy and social agency.

The conference documentation can be found here.

2019 - Further debate: The discussion paper ‘What’s politics got to do with it? European youth work programmes and the development of critical youth citizenship’

After the conference a reflection group made up by actors from different fields was formed. One of the group members, Yael Ohana, wrote a discussion paper in an attempt to describe and understand the complex issues and debates surrounding the question of the 'political dimension’ in European youth work. The paper seeks to provide arguments for why European youth work needs to pay more explicit attention to the politically sensitive issues of today.

It also seeks to encourage recognition among members of the European youth work community by saying that taking a principled stance on political and social developments in Europe is a necessity and not just a matter of methodological nuance. The paper outlines six existential dilemmas for the European youth work community of practice that require a paradigm change. Furthermore, the paper identifies nine areas of intervention drawing on the principles of political education.

A summary of the discussion paper "What’s politics got to do with it? European youth work programmes and the development of critical youth citizenship" can be found here. The full version can be found here.

2020 - Up next: The 'European Symposium on the Development of Critical Youth Citizenship', Autumn 2020, Cologne (Germany)

The overall goal of this symposium is to provide a space for dynamic interdisciplinary exchange between 80 professionals from the field of youth work as a continuation of the process described above. Moreover, the symposium wants to trigger further constructive discourse, generate momentum and provide a platform to reconfirm the willingness to support the political dimension in youth work.

At the same time, this symposium aims to be a place for further reflection on the idea of the development of critical youth citizenship. Therefore, the symposium will be a a follow-up to earlier initiatives and a connecting point to find common ground, to build on synergies among different sectors and to design further action.

More information will be published here shortly.

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