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School of Law

Innovating Student Democracy: The Potential for Random Selection in the University

3 February 2020

Time: 1:00 - 2:30pm
Venue: Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, Scape Building 2.01, London

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Recently, democratic innovations such as Citizens’ Assemblies and Citizens’ Juries have proliferated globally as a response to the limitations of traditional political processes. Underpinning these initiatives has been the use of random selection or “civic lotteries” to select representative samples of ordinary citizens to make informed recommendation on key political questions from the environment to constitutional reform.

While scholars and practitioners have praised the potential of random selection to facilitate more representative, participatory, and deliberative democracy in mainstream politics, its potential to transform student governance has been largely overlooked. However, not only has student government been the site of experimentation with random selection, democratic innovation in educational contexts may be especially valuable. Not only is it a traditional space for students to cultivate their civic capacities, but universities are intentionally working to facilitate “student voice”, and students themselves are increasingly taking a prominent role in addressing global challenges.

With support from the Queen Mary Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Law, this event brings together, for the first time, a diversity of participants for a dedicated conversation about the democratic potential for random selection in student governance. An international panel featuring students, scholars, and civil society will present the successes and challenges of real-world initiatives, make connections to wider democratic innovation, and discuss the potential for future development.

Speakers will include

  • Graham Smith, University of Westminster, UK
  • Adam Cronkright, Democracy In Practice, Bolivia
  • Michael Hewitson and Lauren Huxley, Leeds University Union, UK
  • Simon Pek, University of Victoria, Canada

Chaired by Jeffrey Kennedy, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, UK (Chair).

Refreshments provided. RSVPs appreciated.

Questions can be directed to jeffrey.kennedy@qmul.ac.uk.