A new kind of experiment at the university

A new kind of experiment at the university

With the help of the Decidim platform, 138 students in a Master 2 in political science at theUniversity of Paris Est Créteil have the opportunity to co-construct a gender equality charter in anticipation of the opening of the International School of Political Studies in September 2020.

At the origin of the approach

Students concerned with participation

It was in the context of a course on civic tech that this initiative emerged: to build, by ensuring the participation of as many people as possible, a common regulatory reference framework for gender issues at the university - a decisive and meaningful first step in the construction of this future school. This common work is based on several functionalities made available by the platform which, arranged side by side, favour the emergence of a collective intelligence on the subject of gender equality and the inclusion of all. 

Three participatory tools:

To implement this participatory approach, three tools deployed by the platform were selected: 

  • A survey in the form of two questionnaires;
  • Spaces for debate around proposals put forward by the participants;
  • The participatory text feature for co-writing the charter.

The survey

The survey on gender inequalities in the institution is based on the questionnaire functionality of Decidim. The survey is divided into two separate parts on the following topics:  

  • General perception of gender inequality
  • Facts observed during your higher education studies 

The questions are mostly constructed according to the classic model of multiple choice questionnaires. The approach also allows participants to clarify their thoughts on certain questions that are conducive to a more detailed expression. This tailor-made arrangement makes it possible to frame the survey while leaving room for participants to express themselves freely within it. Only the administrator has the possibility to use the answers to the questionnaire. 

The debates 

The "debate" feature of Decidim allows the organisation of virtual discussion spaces around themes proposed directly by the participants. Each participant can choose to subscribe to the themes he or she wishes to follow, but also to contribute by exchanging comments.

Co-construction of the charter

Decidim's participatory text feature allows all participants to directly follow, support, comment or amend each part of the charter being co-constructed. Thus, the writing of the charter is no longer delegated to specific people. It becomes a collective work on which each participant has, individually, the possibility of bringing his contribution. A history of amendments is accessible for each paragraph in order to guarantee total transparency regarding the evolution of the text.

What contribution can the digital tool make to this process?

We asked Emilie Frenkiel, researcher at LIPHA, lecturer in political science at the University of Paris Est-Créteil and supervisor of the process, what contribution the Decidim platform made to this process:

Involving a hundred students in a collective reflection

» First of all, the tool allowed me to embark on this process. I could never have imagined involving a hundred students in a collective and prolonged reflection on the issues of inequality and sexism at the University without the possibilities offered by the platform. It has helped to redistribute the voice in the classroom, in the sense that it allows students who don't easily speak up in class or who are working or sick and can't attend to express themselves on issues that affect everyone.

Various features that open up the field of possibilities

The platform allows them to register under a pseudonym, which is very important for our subject. On the other hand, confirming the importance of design for the imaginary and concrete forms of the consultations, the different functionalities have opened up the field of possibilities even further, as far as I am concerned. I didn't know how to start the discussion and the platform allowed me to create a long questionnaire, less intended to collect data than to engage students to start or deepen their reflection on gender inequalities at the university, in general and according to their experience as witnesses, victims, participants in a sexist climate. I did not know what to expect from the online debate and did not anticipate so many free, accurate, reflective and relevant debates. 

participatory drafting of an equality charter

We are now engaged in the final stage of the consultation: the participatory drafting of a charter for equality that will be implemented in the International School of Political Studies that will open in the autumn. Without the platform, which allows us to modify and comment on the charter step by step and at different paces within a few weeks, this level of reflection, collaboration and deliberation would not have been possible. »

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