The Democracy School is not affiliated with any political party and in the UK has worked with all the main parties (Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats). Our faculty reflects the political, social and cultural landscapes within which we operate.
Our faculty members come from a range of different backgrounds (academia, policymaking etc) and combine specialist knowledge with professional experience and technical expertise.
What binds us together is our shared belief in the power of narratives – historical, biographical and political. This informs our educational praxis, guides the development of new methodologies and enables us to create a unique learning culture.
We believe that political leadership, irrespective of ones values and beliefs, is first and foremost about ‘sense-making’, because only if we can make sense of the world around us, can we begin to coherently address the many problems the world faces.
Furthermore, we believe that the primary means by which political leaders make sense of the world is through ‘storytelling’. It is also through the telling and retelling of stories that they are able to give voice to the people they represent and in so doing create a shared sense of purpose and direction, even during times of radical change.
Our leadership development programmes build on these insights and utilise actual challenges participating politicians face as the context for developing the narratives and counter-narratives that make it possible to address them effectively.
Our programmes are modular and scalable, consisting of individual learning units. There are two types, core modules and learning extensions.
Core modules utilise the School’s NDAL methodology and generate their own oral and written content in the form of scenarios, discussions, papers, and talks. There are two kinds: reflexive and discursive ones. Reflexive modules are designed to support personal development and focus on the participants’ own life histories. Discursive ones are group-based and facilitate context-specific problem-solving and debate.
Learning extensions come in the form of theory modules, each consisting of a learning outcome description, presentation slides, lecture notes and a reading list. They are often, but not always, provided by an academic institution and can be repurposed material originally developed within the context of a degree programme.