The methodological dimension is a significant core of the Citizens’ Assemblies. In this section, analyses and other elements to deal with tools and methods which may serve Assemblies at any time are available. Such elements rely on methodological experience of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World. These will be gradually enhanced and enriched by the experiences achieved in the Citizens’ Assemblies.
A. The global dialogue between the Chinese and European societies is characterized first by its diversity and its unity
Diversity is reflected by the large number of thematic and socioprofessional workshops. Each of these small size workshops aims at creating a genuine and personal exchange between the participants and deepening the issues specific to each workshop. The purpose of this dialogue is to enable the participants to better understand each other and, through mutual listening, to further their own reflection.
Unity is embodied by the grouping of all the workshops’ discussion, particularly during the plenary sessions. The aim is to share the thoughts of each workshop, to have them participate in an overview of what are the challenges of each society and the long-term challenges of their cooperation and partnership.
The global dialogue between the two societies, as organised in the orum, is a succession of periods of distance exchange and biennial meetings to exchange face to face. E ach biennial meeting should be an occasion for progress assessment and should add value to ensure that the next period of dialogue, goes wider and deeper.
Based on these two specificities of the orum, four principles should guid e the animation of the workshops as follows :
- the workshop will build on prior contributions: from the previous biennial meetings where they exist and from the contributions of participants
- the animation method rules out formal presentations by the participants: the exchange during the workshop is a genuine discussion made of free exchanges and mutual listening;
- the summary and conclusions of each workshop should help to guide and stimulate the dialogue during the two years that follow and should include concrete prospects for mutual development and cooperation;
- the outputs of each workshop must contribute to the collective work in plenary sessions.
The present animation guide provides guidelines, additional information can be found in the note "Style, animation and workshops’ outputs; frequently asked questions."
1. Each workshop builds on prior contributions and preparatory work
They are of four kinds :
- the issue papers prepared by the Chinese and European prime movers;
- the conclusions of the 2007 workshop when the workshop already existed in the previous biennial;
- the contributions brought by the participants prior to the workshop and which have been posted on the website;
- the document ’ China and Europe united to face their common challenges "which is a synthesis of the work of the second biennial meetings of the orum.
2. An animation method that allows an open dialogue
The Chinese and European prime movers agree on the method of animation that suits them both. Several methods are described in the attached note: round table where everyone speaks freely on all the proposed themes, work in parallel of each participant who formulates their ideas (the "post it" method); series of round tables for each topic, etc.
In any case, long introduction statements and successions of monologues should be prohibited. Everything must be done to facilitate interpersonal exchange, including the break-up of the workshop in small groups at certain stages when interpreting means permit.
3. An “action plan” for further dialogue
Each workshop, whichever animation method is chose, has an "obligation of r esults ": to agree on a certain number of common issues specific to the workshop; to identify, in China and Europe, the most relevant and promising experiences; to define the future orientations to progress on these issues in China and in Europe; to set the first concrete steps to continue the dialogue and the mutual enrichment.
4. Contribute to the overall discussion within the framework of plenary meetings
The overall discussion in plenary is based on the synthesis of each of the 80 workshops. To enable this synthesis, each of the workshops has to submit its conclusions in a standardized format. This requirement of standardized format of the workshop’s results should be known and accepted by all the participants, as it will guide the work during the two days of the workshop. The prime movers and participants may and are encouraged to prepare two types of restitutions of the conclusions of their workshop :
- “open” restitution, reflecting the richness of the debate, the possible differences, the diversity of points of view. This kind of restitution is submitted to the Chatham House rules: "the quotations are not named in order to keep freedom of speech of each other";
- restitution in the standardized format.
This second aspect will now be commented.
B. How the conclusions of the workshops will be presented in plenary sessions and how it affects the workshops’ animation
Each workshop makes two different contributions to the plenary sessions :
a) an overview of the workshop’s conclusions will be confronted with the vision of the other workshops in the same group.
Reminder: the workshops are divided into nine groups as shown in the list below:
- S1: Values, religion, art, culture, education, science and technology, media
- S2 : Society, social organization, lifestyles
- S3 : Economy, production and markets, labour, consumers, financial sector
- S4 : Objectives, methods and levels of governance from local to global -* T1 : Values, religion, art, culture, education, science and technology, media
- T2 : Society, social organization, lifestyles
- T3 : Economy, production and markets, labour, consumers, financial sector
- T4 : Objectives, methods and levels of governance from local to global -* T5 : Relations between humankind and biosphere; natural resources management
Therefore it is important to present the four parts of work in workshop: identification of key issues, identification of the most relevant experiences; perspectives for the future; next concrete stages.
Whatever animation method chosen by the prime movers, the conclusions is reported for each of these four topics in a standardized format as shown below:
One needs to pay attention to the time required to summarize the richness of the discussions around a few number of key ideas (five or six ideas for the issues), prospects and first concrete actions, more if necessary for the experiences because they won’t be summarized but rather represent a basis for exchange of experiences.
The exercise of regrouping the reflections of one another around five or six key ideas and their formulation is very useful in the collective dynamic. The prime movers will decide of the most suitable method for their group. or example, they can collect statements from all the participants and then work in small teams to group and summarize the statements. It is essential to complete this task during the workshop with all the participants and not in parallel by a small group, in which case the participants
would not recognize themselves in the summary.
b) The contribution of the workshop to the challenges common to China and Europe
It is a very different exercise from the previous one even if using the same elements.
At the end of the second biennial meeting of the orum, four challenges common to both societies have been identified. They are :
- 1. Harmonious society, sustainable development
- 2. Values, openness, modernity, identity
- 3. Participatory and integrated governance
- 4. China and Europe in the world
The participants of each workshop are asked to identify how they can help address these common challenges.
They will do a synthesis exercise as in a): after a collective discussion, they will identify, by a series of short sentences, how the issues addressed in their workshop can contribute to progress on each of these challenges. The synthesis is made with a maximum of five proposals for each of the four challenges. No obligation of course to "fill all the boxes". When a workshop has nothing to say on any of the challenges, nothing is reported.
Reflections collected during this second phase of the workshop can also be completed by a more detailed output, but only the standardized report of the synthesis will be used for discussions in the plenary.