A key element of a vibrant democracy is ensuring that the political system is fair and responds to the needs and expectations of all its members. Democratic participation and public engagement processes are vital to ensure equality, social justice, and accountability. In the context of accelerated and disruptive climate action approaches emerging democratic practices such as citizens’/people’s assemblies and environmental activist movements stand out as important social formations. Citizens’/people’s assemblies are often construed as ‘consensus’ driven practices, while in contrast, environmental activist movements are typically construed as ‘agonistic’ or ‘conflictual’ democratic practices. Yet both are valuable manifestations of agency for change that can provide new spaces for dialogue, deliberation and experimentation. Indeed, these sharp distinctions might limit our understanding of the role and the synergies of different practices within a diverse and responsive democracy. This webinar seeks to consider and situate emerging democratic practices within the continuum of consensus and agonistic processes and explore their potential to enrich political debate. We hope to focus our discussion on two key themes:
1. The role and responsibility of SSH to ‘open up’ as opposed to ‘closing down’ active political spaces for critical debate .
2. The challenges and opportunities of linking consensus driven processes with other more radical forums and ideas, allowing these to meaningfully co-exist within a wider deliberative system where each act as a check and a balance on the other.
3. We will finish by identifying and bringing to the table emerging real-life cases in this space.
Workshop Output: Keynote webinar presentations will be recorded and made available on our SHIFT website
10:00 WELCOME: Dr Aet Annist (SHiFT WG1 Lead)
10:15 “Tour de Table” – Introductions and Key Research Interests
10:30 KEYNOTE I: Prof. John Barry, Queens University Belfast: ‘Contestation, Democracy and Collective Problem Solving for the Planetary Crisis’
11:00 KEYNOTE II: Dr Clodagh Harris, University College Cork: ‘Climate assemblies and climate policy: the Irish experience‘
11:30 Q&A: Distilling best practice for securing engagement in climate action