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Level Up: A Scholars Programme Project Gone Live

Level Up is live!

  • 31 May-1 June 2023: Level Up Our School, where 30 high school students of Colegio Fuhem Montserrat will have the opportunity to engage and reflect with local policy-makers about the future they want for their community, learn about democracy, and boost collaboration. More info here.
  • 15 June 2023: Level Up Our Climate Targets, where European policy-makers, stakeholders, and the public will co-create proposals in the framework of DG CLIMA’s public consultation on its 2040 climate targets, in partnership with the European Climate Pact and the Global Governance Institute. More information here.

How many of us are interested in politics? If one were to look at the voter turnout in countries across the globe, one could think that we mostly aren’t. On the other hand, it’s perhaps fair to say that most of us do care about some, if not most, political issues that affect us or our values. And yet, that care and affect often do not translate into democratic participation via traditional methods (joining political parties and voting). In our third cohort of Scholars, a group of doctoral researchers have dedicated their two-year-long project to addressing this problem. The solution? Gamifying democracy.

If you haven’t heard of this concept before, the term “gamification” is becoming more and more of a buzzword. The idea is to increase the engagement in, and enjoyability of, systems, services, organizations, or activities. It was traditionally applied to the educational environment, but is proving to be very influential beyond those confines.

The underlying assumption driving Level Up is that most, if not all, of us have a desire to engage in politics and decision-making that affects our lives. But, we often see little use or attraction in engaging through traditional methods. In their own words:

“… we realised that most members of the public and communities were #disillusioned with politics and struggled to make their voices heard.

Whilst we firmly believe democracy is the best governance there is to support freedom, peace, and prosperity, we also are convinced that democracy as it is today is not cutting it. We urgently need new means of participation that are adapted to contemporary society.

It’s time to Level Up and make democracy fun and inclusive.”

This may just be the beginning of a bold and new form of democratic participation! To read more about Level Up, its aims, pilot projects, final assessment in front of high-level stakeholders, and beyond:






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