On the 7th of December 2011, Julia gave a lecture on the changing face of eParticipation at the Institute of European Studies (IES) of the University of Brussels (VUB). In a small, round table discussion, Julia pointed out that these days, policymakers are much more likely to discuss citizen engagement in the context of the co-design and co-production of public services rather than democratic policymaking. ‘This shift in emphasis’ she argued, ‘is hardly a co-incidence. Politicians failed to proactively embrace new social media tools like Facebook to improve policymaking because it was inconvenient and intruded on their own domain. Not surprisingly, they now want to use these same tools to get citizens to help them deliver improved public services at reduced costs.’ Following a lively and engaging discussion with students from VUB, Julia concluded ‘Given everything that has happened this past year – from the Arab Spring through to the Occupy Wall Street Movements – politicians dismiss genuine eParticipation at their peril.’ Julia was accompanied to the lecture with a young ‘eRevolutionary’ in the making: her six year old son, Alexander.
‘Absolutely fantastic to hear you speak! I really enjoyed the discussion afterwards, too.’
DR. JAMAL SHAHIN, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Information Society Cluster (IES)