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In light of the ideal form of participation, the crucial question for facilitators is how to support people to reach the top rungs of the ladder of participation, becoming effective leaders and empowered individuals with their social groups, communities and societies as a whole. Since the possibilities for participation are related to power, the fundamental didactical approach we promote is empowerment.


Empowerment is a process of promoting competences for public social activity, cooperative organization, and involvement in public decision-making. Self-empowerment is a process of acquiring these competences.

It deals with questions like:

  • How do you gain power?
  • How do you use power?
  • How do you shape power relations?
  • How can you influence socially relevant conversations and decisions?

On an individual level, empowerment is feeling, accepting, and using one’s individual power in terms of self-responsible independent action. In education and training it can be understood as a process of gaining competencies for public social activity, cooperative self-organization, and involvement in any public decision-making.

In this sense, not all empowerment is citizenship education. Many activities are the result of self-learning and self-organisation. But an understanding of empowerment as learning and of civic action as active learning might support these processes.

In the context of competency-centered civic education, empowerment is a requirement and goal for participatory learning processes and trainings.