Student-Led Projects

The Democracy & Education Network (DEN) is a student-led initiative that runs research, teaching and discussion projects in and from the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Westminster University’s Department of Politics and International Relations.

DEN undertakes funded political research for staff, students and external organisations, and works to build collaborative networks across disciplines, universities and years of study.

DEN projects include:

The International Community Project is a student-led initiative that engages international students in researching local ethnic communities in London. The ICP seeks to connect universities with their local communities by involving different international communities in the research process. This relationship will hopefully allow a previously unprecedented level of information exchange between both parties, giving those who study processes of Globalisation a potentially new insight into the experience of immigrant populations. The focus of the project is on the participation of these groups in the political and social processes of democracy. The ICP strives to work with community members and academics to improve the responsiveness of representative democracy in the UK. We hope to leave a legacy of mutual trust and respect between the University and grassroots organisations, allowing the project to grow and expand internationally.

For students, the project is an opportunity to expand the university experience beyond the confines of academia. Active research is usually limited to post-graduate students. The ICP gives undergraduates the opportunity to develop research and organizational skills in an open and flexible forum amongst like-minded peers. The research undertaken by members of the ICP will prove invaluable to any student of humanities and social sciences, including providing a solid base for dissertation work in their final year and an important addition to the CV. Project activities will facilitate access to academic and social networking prospects throughout London and beyond, forging relationships for years to come. The project’s field work includes community visits within the city of London, as well as the potential for international research expeditions as the project evolves. Once again, the main aim of the project is to provoke a dynamic change towards a more inclusive and representative style of democracy.

The Students Research Students Project studied the student experience at university from the point of view of the student. All too often, such studies take the form of an online questionnaire. This project was a face-to-face structured interview, conducted by students on students and designed to collect qualitative information, narratives and lived experiences. These are aspects that escape administrative surveys, with the result that the student experience remains profoundly mysterious to staff.

The Student Forums are award winning discussion groups that run alongside existing undergraduate modules and staff-led seminars. The Forums are facilitated by students who have already taken the module (and received training), and are designed to provide students with a public space to explore their political ideas and to give and receive report. Popular with both participants and student-leaders, the Forums have a demonstrable positive effect on performance, retention and student satisfaction.

The Political Debating Society is a student-run society that arranges debates on contemporary political topics.

Employment in Politics is a series of talks and student-led public interviews by and of practitioners in NGOs, pressure groups, parliaments and political research organisations.

DEN students also run regular research briefings, discussions, films and ‘student’s political experience’ public interviews with students with particular experience of political conflict and are developing a conference programme and Newsletter.

These DEN activities build on developments at the university of Leeds, particularly Student-Led Discussion Groups, the Critical Theory Discussion Group, a Student-Led Conference reported in the THE and an ongoing student-edited journal Roundhouse.

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