The Centre for Democratic Studies Aarau is researching democratic systems, both nationally and internationally, while also doing a lot of work on political education. Stefan Walter and Manuel Hubacher concern themselves with political education in schools, and both use games to create innovative learning experiences. On Friday, June 6 I met them at the ZDA’s Villa Blumenhalde in Aarau.

Stefan is project leader for the politics game SpielPolitik!. In this simulation game, students experience the legislative process on a federal level. Participants think of an initiative and play through the process until their idea reaches the Federal Council.

Manuel is specialized on political education and digitalization. Amongst other things, he has worked on politik-macht-gesetz (“politics makes law” or “politics, power, law”). This is also a concept to make the Swiss legislative process tangible. While SpielPolitik! takes multiple project days to complete, politik-macht-gesetz is a day’s program.

According to the ZDA, there are two cornerstones for political education: emancipation of citizens through the development of political maturity and, integration into the established system. These aspects should also be considered for our concept.

Manuel and Stefan could give feedback on both didactics and game mechanics of our current prototype. For example, they had a couple of ideas how existing mechanics could be emphasized to further illustrate our federal system. They also told me about approaches, or “political glasses”, which could be used to deal with the problem of uninterested voters.

I am glad that I was able to drop by at the ZDA. It was a very rewarding trip.

Dear Manuel, dear Stefan. It is great to see how you help young people understand their democratic rights. Thank you for your commitment and for this delightful meeting!