The Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID) designed, implemented and evaluated an online participation process for the non-governmental organization Friends of the Earth in North-Rhine-Westfalia („Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz Landesverband NRW e.V.“). The NGO is active in the field of environmental protection and natural reserve.
The aim of the participation process was to gather and discuss ideas concerning innovative ways to participate in the organization. The project was implemented on an online platform using Adhocracy as software. Adhocracy allows the users to participate in three ways, reflecting different levels of engagement: rating, commenting and editing proposals. The online discussion started in June 2017 and was pre-structured along three topics including initial proposals. After the online discussion, the proposals that were put forward were presented to the NGO for a broader discussion.
After this process the participants in the online discussion were invited to do an online survey with the aim of evaluating the participation process.
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Tobias Escher
Board, Computer Science, Political Science, Sociology
Tobias Escher leads a junior research group funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, focused on the effects of citizen participation on quality and legitimacy of political decisions regarding the transformation towards sustainable mobility, in particular on the local level. Previously he has managed both the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID) and the PhD programme on local level online participation (NRW Forschungskolleg) of Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf. His research interests are the design and evaluation of participatory processes online and offline. His particular focus is the potential contribution of citizen participation for increasing the quality and legitimacy/acceptance of political decisions. He has also developed a course on the theory and practice of online participation, a result of which has been a platform allowing students to shape their course curricula.
Tobias Escher is a social scientist with a PhD in Information Science, Communication Studies and the Social Sciences from the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. To asses the opportunities as well as the limitations of digital technologies he can also rely on his basic knowledge of Computer Science. Having previously worked and studied in Oxford, London, Leicester and Berlin, he joined Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf in 2011.
Dr. Katharina Gerl
Board, DIID-Team, Political Science
Katharina Gerl is a postdoctoral researcher at the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID). In her PhD thesis she analyzed the effects of digitalization and mediatization on party organizations in Germany.
Her research focuses on the implications of digital technologies for political institutions, political communication and participation. She conducted several studies evaluating the usage of onlinebased tools by political organizations. At the DIID she is also in charge of the unit that focusses on the evaluation of online public participation and the development of evaluation criteria to measure and compare the input, output, outcome and impact of digital tools for public participation.