Lab 3: Bottlenecks to democracy

Sitra Lab 3 is a training programme that seeks solutions for overcoming the bottlenecks that hinder democracy and social participation.


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Sitra Lab training programme will address the bottlenecks to democracy – apply now!


Instructions for applying for the Sitra Lab 3 training programme

What is it about?

Societies are constantly changing on multiple levels. Today’s complex problems are not easily addressed by old paradigms and solutions. As the challenges faced by the environment and society change, we need to update our approaches.

A future laboratory is a practical training programme focused on finding new ways to solve complex societal problems. There are no exams or diplomas in this training programme, but there is a lot to do and many of the lessons learned are put into practice during the programme. This intensive programme will provide you with plenty of new networks, practical approaches and food for thought.

The training programme is based on future-oriented thinking, systems thinking and design thinking as well as the social innovation process. It brings together professionals from different sectors of society to co-operate and learn together. We are looking for a diverse group of participants to combine various types of knowledge, resources and experiences.

The aim of the future laboratory is to enhance the participating change-makers’ ability to create change, and their desire to be a problem solver and to acquire the capacity to take action in a complex world.

Theme: bottlenecks to democracy

The third instalment of the future laboratory is about to begin and the application period is now open. This time around, the theme of the future laboratory is bottlenecks to democracy.

The avenues and forms of participation are changing. Technological development, the diversification of the population, social media and the forms of relational power are creating a growing number of avenues and opportunities for participation and influence. The transformation involves both direct and representative participation methods.

Democratic participation is becoming more unequal. A recent survey by Sitra showed that there is a tremendous number of people in Finland who would want to exercise influence on societal issues if it were made easy enough for them. The avenues of participation also need to enable real impact. This way, people feel that their voices are heard and their participation is genuine.

Sitra Lab is a training programme and a community of changemakers. It is Sitra’s own future laboratory.

Who is it for?

The application process has ended and we have selected the teams. You can get to know the teams here (in Finnish).

We were looking for teams that aim to expand or establish forms of participation. They could represent a movement, community or operating model that has already been successful in creating the experience of participation but is having difficulty with the impact or dissemination of the model. The team’s initiative could also be an effective service or solution from a different field that the team wishes to apply to democratic participation.

We were looking for teams that work across the boundaries between sectors, whose activities are already reaching people, and that bring together complementary competences, such as an understanding of political decision-making and the accessibility of civic action or experience related to new social media channels and democracy education. We particularly value teams that have the necessary resources to reach target audiences that suffer from a participation deficit.

Examples of the intended participants in the future laboratory include active citizens, those who engage in preparatory background work for political decision-making, reformists with vision and specialists who want to apply their knowledge. What these groups have in common is the desire to address a current social problem and take action to solve it.

Contact us

Riina Pulkkinen
Jaakko Porokuokka
Jaakko Porokuokka
Specialist, Sitra
Anna-Leena Mansikkala
Project Assistant

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