Democratic experimentation meets democratic education in Cochabamba, Bolivia: a case study

Founded in 2013, Democracy In Practice is a non-profit organization dedicated to democratic innovation, experimentation and capacity-building in an effort to contribute to government that is more inclusive, representative, and effective.

We present a case study which collectively examines the three pilot projects of Democracy In Practice’s student government program which ran February through November of 2014 in three schools in the Cochabamba area of Bolivia. This program involved replacing student elections with lotteries in which government members were randomly-selected to serve a given term before being replaced by a new group of randomly-selected students.

Program Overview

Implemented in three separate schools in the Cochabamba of Bolivia, the Democratic Student Government Program involved a dynamic and multi-faceted reinvention of student government. Most fundamentally, this reinvention involved replacing elected student governments with those that were randomly selected and rotated from within the student population. These governments of rotated, randomly selected students therefore operated continuously as standing decision-making bodies within the schools. Accordingly, the implementation of this program involved not only clear institutional change but also complex normative change, challenging conventional notions of governance as well as the regular practices and routines of both students and teachers. In this way, the projects explored here differ from other participatory governance initiatives that are typically temporary and limited to a particular issue.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey Simon, Congratulations on a highly successful 1st year project. Your outcomes are exactly what this sortitionista dreams about! And I am not just saying that because so many of my fellow Canadians were involved. I will be contacting DIP as I would like to start a similar school project here in Alberta. Please keep posting updates and results on your 2nd year. Thanks!

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  2. Hi there, thanks so much for your kind words! We would love to hear back from you and offer advice about the project. Shoot me an e-mail at simon [at] democracyinpractice [dot] org

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