Methods for designing
participatory learning spaces

In order to make learning spaces participatory at all levels, diverse methods should be used to implement participation processes in a structured and efficient way, to make processes varied and interesting and to achieve sound solutions based on broad support.

Selecting the right methods is essential for the success of participation processes. Each method comes with its own inherent potential, effects and limitations. Some are very well suited to soliciting opinions and reactions. Others are effective in mobilising people and encouraging them to participate. Certain methods can be used to stimulate discussion, plan projects together or develop projects, while others prepare the ground for long-term cooperation or conflict resolution.

In longer or more complex processes, it makes sense to combine various methods in order to meet the different requirements at the different stages of participation and to be able to more effectively reach different target groups.

Methodologies for “participation and sustainable development”

The website “Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe”, which is maintained by the Austrian Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), offers an excellent compilation of different participation methods.

Methodologies for democratic and participatory processes at kindergarten and primary school level (only available in German)

As part of the project “Learning Spaces for Democracy at Pre- and Primary School Age”, the German Children and Youth Foundation has published a methodology kit for educators, which serves as a tool for initiating participation and democratic processes in kindergartens and primary schools. Many of these methods can also be transferred to work with older children, adolescents and (young) adults.

“Participatory Methods” website

The website of the “Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster“ of the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex offers a wide range of participation methods for developing ideas and actions to promote inclusive development and social change. These methods focus on learning and education processes, project development and political action by civil society actors.