Our objectives

In pursuit of our intellectual aims, CDE promotes collaboration and discussion among students and colleagues at the University of Leeds, and our external Associate Members, who share an interest in democratic participation and engagement. Within these parameters, CDE exists to:

  • Consolidate capacity for rigorous research in the field of democratic engagement in POLIS and the wider university, by providing a scholarly infrastructure to support the sharing of ideas, and collaborative work on research ideas and projects. In the short term, we will prioritise collaborative bids for external funding among centre members to consolidate such an infrastructure, including via the nurturing of early career scholars and new PhD students.
  • Cultivate a community and site of intellectual exchange at the Centre through regular talks, events, meetings, discussions and reading groups.
  • Host a vibrant postgraduate research community that furthers the academic development of postgraduate students working on democratic engagement, via regular talks, events, postgraduate workshops and exploration of shared interests and opportunities for collaboration.
  • Provide an interface between academics who research democratic engagement and innovation and non-academics who practice it, including organisers of citizen participation events, politicians and a wide range of civil society partners. This includes the consolidation of existing collaborative links with Involve, Hope for the Future, the Hansard Society and a number of parliaments, including the UK parliament.
  • Adopt a global approach to the problem of democratic engagement, fostering research on a wide range of contexts from local communities to international comparisons, to develop an informed and critical understanding of the challenges arising from different forms of democratic engagement.
  • Create an inclusive scholarly environment in which historically marginalised perspectives (such as those concerned with race or gender) are supported, and in which students and scholars with diverse backgrounds and perspectives feel valued and welcomed. This will be done through, for instance, ensuring gender parity in our programme of speakers, and being attentive in our scholarly research to the ways in which race and gender hierarchies shape political engagement.