What is your vision on democracy?
What is your vision on democracy? That was the main question for a project set up by Honours College of Leiden University and the S.Toraighyrov Pavlodar State University in Kazachstan. Two Dutch and two Kazakh students shared their points of view in essays, which were then discussed in an online video meeting. The essays were based on various famous and less famous quotes about democracy, such as Churchill's: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others".
On Friday the 19th of June, the online meeting started at 10.30 hrs. During the offline preparation for the discussion it became clear that the Dutch students' view of democracy also varied. The students started the meeting by explaining their democratic system to the other side. Followed by a vivid discussion on their views on democracy. Important in their argument was the understanding of what exactly democracy is and which elements are necessary to make this system work.
“We had a true discussion: both sides listened to each other and were open to changing their views. It was clear that for everyone, the goal of participating in this project was to learn, not pushing their views on others”, according to Sander van Diepen (26, History) and Jens Welling (20, Public Administration) representing Leiden University in this project. Van Diepen: “The online meeting was a great success. I hope that the project will be continued. It is very interesting to discuss the pros and cons of democracy with students who have a totally different cultural background.” Welling: “It was very interesting to see how people in other countries view the same concepts.”
'Vision on Democracy' is a new project from the Honours College of Leiden University and is designed to foster intercultural dialogue between students of universities all over the world.