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It’s Level Up Again: Invitation to the World Forum for Democracy

By September 1, 2023No Comments

This is exactly what the Scholars Programme is about. It’s all too common that project-based assessments dwindle away in our memory after the course or programme ends, and the context in which it was created dissipates.

That’s why it’s great to see, and it is worth mentioning when, another one of our groups take their work beyond the confines of the programme and plant its seeds in the ‘real world’.* Sašo Gorjanc, Johanna Jaschik, Iris Jugo Nuñez-Hoyo, Marie Martine, Jens Meijen, Toine Paulissen, Savannah-Rivka Powell, Lena Riecke, and Sophie Vériter have been working tirelessly on their goal of increasing democratic engagement in the EU. They have created an innovative platform that utilizes elements of gaming (known as “gamification”) to make the experience of democratic participation more enjoyable. They have already launched pilot projects in Madrid, geared towards education, and Brussels, geared towards tackling climate change. And now, they been invited to the World Forum for Democracy to showcase their work.

The World Forum for Democracy is unique platform run by the Council of Europe, and was inaugurated by the Council of Europe Secretary General  Thorbjørn Jagland, in 2012. It is a forum for debate that allows members of civil society, of media, businesspeople, political leaders, academia, and other professionals groups to confront many of the complex challenges facing democracies today. It brings representatives from these groups from all over the world and has included showcases of initiatives by various major political parties, NGOs, media publications, ministries, and leading universities. To have been invited to showcase their initiative is a tremendous feat, and we could not be more proud of the Level Up group! As they say, hard work pays off, but it’s all the more sweeter when you know you’re making a positive difference.


*Previous projects to have done so include: Unmute the Youth!, who used their project work to contribute to a Springer, edited volume entitled “Participatory and Digital Democracy at the Local LevelEuropean Discourses and Practices;” Europe, Listen, and Respond, who were invited to present their report at the Venice Commission in 2019; and now Portal2EU, who’s work has been recognized by the OECD.



The team of doctoral researchers leading the project:

  • Sašo Gorjanc, PhD in Geography (University of St Andrews), specialises in marine biodiversity, conservation, and management
  • Johanna Jaschik, PhD in Contemporary and Digital History (University of Luxembourg), researches mental maps in Western Ukraine during the post-socialist transformation
  • Iris Jugo Nuñez-Hoyo, PhD in Cultural Leadership (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) is an accomplished musician exploring the relationships between education, performing arts, and social impact
  • Marie Martine, DPhil in Modern Languages (Oxford University), focuses on women writers in France, Germany and Norway in the 19th century
  • Jens Meijen, PhD in Social Sciences (KU Leuven), focuses on European populism and its relationship with democracy and technology
  • Toine Paulissen, PhD in Social Sciences (KU Leuven), specialises in European politics, especially direct democracy, political finance and the EU
  • Savannah-Rivka Powell, PhD in Ethnology and Folklore (University of Tartu), explores relations between minoritized identities, culture, gender and state
  • Lena Riecke, PhD in Intelligence and Cybersecurity (Leiden University), is an interdisciplinary scholar drawing on law, history, cybersecurity, & intelligence
  • Sophie Vériter, PhD in Security and Global Affairs (Leiden University), explores disinformation, democracy, & policy-making in Europe