Enseignez à vivre ! Learn how to live!

As the saying goes, never trust a historian when s/he gives you a prediction about the future, it will not come true.

As a historian, I fully agree with this proverb, but I would add that not even complexity researchers and futurologists could have predicted the events of recent years: the candidacy of former U.S. President Donald Trump for the highest office of the United States was considered a PR stunt at the time, the efforts to achieve a Brexit were initially viewed as nothing but a waste of time, Ibiza was merely a summer hit, a pandemic the stuff of science fiction fantasies by bestselling authors, and a new war in Europe was as likely as Austria joining the NATO.

Now you would think that such an eventful time deserves a worthy name. But which one? How about VUCA? At any rate, this is the attempt to give a name to the highly complex and fast-moving era in which we find ourselves. In short: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

The volatility and uncertainty of the times in which we find ourselves, the ever-increasing speed with which ground-breaking changes are accompanied, the complexity of the problems that surround us, and the ambiguity of information that floods us day in and day out like a giant wave, causes many people to feel overwhelmed and stressed, and create feelings of powerlessness and impotence. The anxious question of what the future may hold is not only a preoccupation of adults, but also of children and young people; an entire generation that once again seems to feel strongly drawn to nihilism is an expression of the fact that the world’s problems are increasingly considered to be unsolvable.

VUCA is an acronym first used in the late 1990s to describe or to reflect on the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity of general conditions and situations. Conducting this Erasmus+ project in the midst of a global pandemic crisis, at times not being able to teach in school, but from home instead, shows us more than ever that our and the future of our students can be described as a VUCA one. The future generations need to be prepared with a concept of life allowing them to embrace those conditions rather than suffer from them. Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, argues for a leadership response which he calls VUCA 2.0Vision, Understanding, Courage and Adaptability. This project is meant to offer our students an environment where they can practice, experiment and discuss the meaning, value and vision of democratic societies, in which each individual actively participates.


The main objective of the project is to raise awareness, among its participants and the public, of the stakes of democracy in terms of togetherness. Not just socially as members of groups that have to make sure that decisions are taken following a process of participation, but also intellectually, as these decisions need to be made based on scientific evidence that presupposes collective learning and teaching. The participants, who come from two different countries with different traditions and encompass different school systems, methods and ways of learning, aim at sharing best practice examples of how to implement the principles of active democracy and togetherness. The second objective consists in involving the students in their wider community’s expressions of democracy. A third objective is to transfer the mutual intercultural experiences of how democratic learning may work, to a new inter- and transnational, European level.


The project was divided into three different parts: Firstly, students worked on the topics of democracy, principles of free speech (Declaration of Human Rights), protest movements, participation and democratic systems in general (i.e. school democracy, local, state and federal politics). The two groups exchanged their thoughts and ideas on these general topics as well as recent political events. They got to know each other better and prepared for the exchanges. The second stage of the project were the mobilities, where each school prepared workshops and excursions on the topic. There were plenary sessions, they visited the other school´s classes and were introduced to the peculiarities of each country’s education and social system. The third part of the project was a joint excursion to Brussels, the political capital of the European Union. Here students expanded their democratic horizon from a personal, school and national level into a European dimension.


This project was meant to offer our students an environment where they could practise, experiment and discuss the meaning, value and vision of democratic societies, where each individual actively participates. Students should become acutely aware that rather than simply casting a vote, democracy is a process that requires active participation, courage and a willingness to take responsibility for something bigger than oneself.


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