Critical ChangeLab / Critical Change Labs for Building Democratic Cultures through Creative and Narrative Practice

Horizon Europe. Culture, creativity and inclusive society. Grant agreement ID: 101094217. 2023-2026

Critical ChangeLab aims to build a resilient European democracy by reinvigorating the relationship between youth and democracy through civic interventions in which young people envision alternative futures for (shared) European democracy, and act on that.

The project is led by the University of Oulu in Finland and embraces a transdisciplinary approach that brings together expertise from nine other partner institutions across Europe.

The overall goal of Critical ChangeLab is to strengthen democracy in Europe by creating and implementing a flexible model of democratic pedagogy using a bottom-up approach that empowers young people to ‘own’ everyday democracy and engage in direct action towards justice-oriented transformations.

The Critical ChangeLab Model

The Critical ChangeLab project aims to create a flexible Critical ChangeLab Model for Democratic Pedagogy in and through learning environments.

In the Critical ChangeLab model, learning environments implement Critical ChangeLabs, which draw on creative and critical practices for supporting youth-led civic interventions. These interventions tackle societal challenges that are close and relevant for youth. To address these challenges, youth are invited to explore the past-present-future of a given situation, rethinking democratic systems, and making justice-oriented transformations.

The target groups for the project and the Critical ChangeLabs are 11-18-year-old youth in formal and non-formal learning environments, but the Labs will also include civil society organisations and industry, and citizens in co-creation activities. The aim is to grow young people’s transformative agency by helping them make a difference in their close environments and co-build democracy.

The Critical ChangeLab Model will be created and implemented in collaboration with stakeholders – youth, educators, civil society organizations and industry and citizens in partner countries – in three cycles of research, drawing on participatory design and action research traditions in its working as well as in creative and narrative practices.

Critical ChangeLab will also contribute to European democracy education via teacher education and professional development actions. In our vision, the Model and the research outputs will generate robust evidence for democratic curriculum development.

Project's website

Participant institutions

Oulu University
Finland, coordinator

Trinity College Dublin

Universitat de Barcelona

Waag Futurelab

Ars Electronica



Tactical Tech

European Alternatives

Institut Za Drustvena Istrazivanja U Zagreb (ISRZ)

UB research team

  • Laura Malinverni (coord.)
  • Aurelio Castro
  • Fernando Hernández Hernández
  • Fernando Herraiz García
  • Joan Miquel Porquer Rigo
  • Marina Riera Ratamero
  • Xavier Giró Gràcia