Non-profit co-founded by Beedie student shortlisted for Democracy Innovation Award

Nov 29, 2016

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Beedie School of Business PhD student Simon Pek has recently returned from the Council of Europe’s World Forum for Democracy, where work done by Democracy in Practice, the non-profit organization he co-founded, earned them a place as one of three finalists in the Democracy Innovation Award.

The Forum, held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, provides a platform for activists, academics, and political decision-makers to come together and discuss solutions to the key challenges facing democracy. This year’s Forum brought together over 130 speakers and 2,000 participants from over 100 countries around the world.

Simon Pek and Adam Cronkright at the World Forum of Democracy. Photos by Klara Beck, 2016. © Council of Europe

Simon Pek and Adam Cronkright at the World Forum for Democracy. Photos by Klara Beck, 2016. © Council of Europe

Pek and Democracy in Practice’s other co-founder Adam Cronkright were invited to participate in the Forum for the first time this year, presenting their work and taking part in discussions and debates. “Attending the World Forum for Democracy was a fantastic experience and represents real recognition of the work we are undertaking with Democracy in Practice, on a global stage,” said Pek. “We learned so much from taking part in the Forum, and for us to reach the final three in the prestigious Democracy Innovation Award is a huge honour.”

Democracy in Practice started in 2013 with the premise that current forms of democracy are largely unrepresentative and ineffective. As an international non-profit organization dedicated to democratic innovation, experimentation and capacity building, they seek to challenge established ways of thinking and develop innovative new approaches.

The organization works primarily in Bolivia and is in its third year of school-based projects that reinvent student government by introducing more inclusive and representative practices. These include selecting representatives from the student population at random, rather than by election, and rotating the individuals selected, to allow a broader range and larger number of students to get involved.

“It has been exciting to see a wide range of organizations, including student unions and student clubs, show interest in changes to their democratic practices that can have a substantial impact in making them more developmental, effective, representative, and legitimate,” added Pek. “This work also connects closely with Canada’s and BC’s modern reputation for experimenting with new forms of democracy, such as BC’s Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform and the recent Grandview-Woodland Citizens’ Assembly. I am happy to help any SFU student or group interested in seeing how these practices could be used in their organization.”