Tampere University’s Democracy Research Network (DRN) is a multi-disciplinary group of scholars doing research on democracy at Tampere University. The network aims to promote dialogue and collaboration among its members, find common research interests and new research ideas, as well as to disseminate research findings to the broader public. The idea has been from the beginning that the network would be self-organising, based on the activity and interests of its members. Currently, there are altogether about 100 members in the network from all the faculties of Tampere University.
One of the key goals of the network is to foster interdisciplinary research on democracy. This means that members of the network come from a variety of disciplines, including e.g., political science, education, administrative sciences, social policy, sociology, philosophy, health sciences, anthropology, planning, gamification, economics, and history. By bringing together scholars from different fields, the network aims to promote a more holistic understanding of democracy, identifying new research questions and approaches to advance research on the field.
Another important aspect of the Democracy Research Network is its focus on promoting democratic governance in practice. This means that the network not only conducts research, but also works with practitioners and policymakers to promote democratic reforms and to implement research findings in real-world contexts. Members of the network collaborate with local, regional and national governments and civil society.
Bringing people together and reaching out to society
The network is actively involved in organizing events such as seminars, workshops, and lectures which brings researchers, practitioners, and policymakers as well as citizens together to discuss the latest research on democracy. With the action grant from STUE we had the chance to organize events both inside the university and events that helped us to reach out to society at large.
One of the main activities of the network last year was organizing Studia Generalia Lecture Series on Democracy Research. It was a series of lectures and discussions that focused on the latest research on democracy. The series was open to the general public and it was held face-to-face at Tampere university lectures with an online participation option as well. The lectures were followed by a question-and-answer session, allowing attendees to engage directly with the speakers. There were 10-30 participants physically present in the classroom (Linna) and 40-70 participants online in Zoom each time.
Consisting of eight weekly sessions and a total of 17 lectures carried out by 21 researchers the lecture series covered a wide range of topics related to democracy, including e.g., citizen participation, university democracy, active citizenship, democracy education, political self-efficacy, energy democracy and the functioning of democratic institutions. The series also explored the impact of new technologies, such as civic robots, on democracy and the role of civil society in promoting democracy. The lecture series ended with a panel discussion on democracy in Finland in the 2020s bringing together findings and conclusions from the lecture series. We received very positive feedback concerning the lecture series and it was also a really nice way to get to know each other and to familiarize ourselves with each other’s research.
As one of the most popular hopes of the network members has been getting to know each other and each other’s research interests, we also arranged a workshop in September. In the workshop we first had the pleasure to follow a really inspiring fishbowl discussion on the role of people in building democratic societies. In addition, we discussed common interests and topics and planned our network’s future activities.
Getting to know each other has also been promoted by organizing monthly morning coffee meetings, spring party and pre-Christmas party.
Reading circle, article series, panel discussion and seminars – welcome to join us for upcoming activities!
The future activities for 2023 include e.g., a reading circle on critical democracy theories and the concepts of democracy research. The first reading circle session was held in February and the next will be on 21.3. There will be also a democracy research themed article series published in Politiikasta.fi and an event on university democracy. Concerning the Finnish Parliamentary election in April, the network members will organize a panel discussion before the election and a seminar afterwards.
Everyone is welcome to join us for planning, organizing, and of course attending the activities of the network. The network is open to all those interested in and working on democracy research at Tampere University. Join the Teams group directly (TG-democracy-network) or contact the network’s organizing team members.
Democracy Research Network organizing team members: Anni Jäntti (MAB), Hanna Björkstedt (MAB), Georgina Guillen Mandujano (ITC), Matias Heikkilä (SOC), Sonja Helkala (EDU), Majid Imani (SOC), Marjaana Jones (SOC), Kaisa Kurkela (MAB), Lauri Lahikainen (SOC), Pauliina Lehtonen (SOC), Dalia Milián Bernal (BEN).