In discussing the “democratic ideal” of education, John Dewey argued that two fundamental traits combine the educational experience and democracy. The aim of education, he argued, is to “generate greater reliance upon the recognition of mutual interests” and “continuous readjustment through meeting new situations.” Building from this observation, the Democracy Lab combines Dewey's insights into education and democracy with recent trends in design-thinking pedagogy. The course focuses on generating opportunities for students to build a mutual interest based on their differences and provide a context for them to deploy this mutual interest toward a solving a specific problem.
To this end, the Democracy Lab will explore a key topic of contemporary democracy each semester. It will aim to provide a hands-on, design-thinking, experimental space where students elaborate a problem and devise a potential a solution around one of the major challenges confronting our contemporary democracies. Such topics may include but are not limited to: global citizenship, democracy with billionnaires, democracy in post-war zones. The course provides a proactive environment where professors help students identify challenges within our current democratic societies and cultivate their skills to define these challenges as problems that may be treated.