Corpus-based Datathons to Support Collaborative, Student-driven Debates on the Key European Values of Sustainability and Democracy

Concepts such as sustainability and democracy combine general agreement on the abstract notion that they represent with endless disagreement about what they mean in practice. And yet, there is little reflection in current educational programmes about the reasons and implications of such disagreement. Sustainability and similar concepts are regarded as one size fits all, allowing the implementation process to be reduced to a delivery pipeline, and leading to a democratic deficit. DEBATING DEMOCRACY will address this gap by developing a powerful software interface and visualization tools to assist in the analysis of large electronic corpora of authentic texts, OMC and GoK, which are rich in such concepts and debates. The web interface will enable the use of OMC and GoK in a variety of educational settings. These corpora are specifically designed to facilitate evidence-based discussion of key concepts in an interdisciplinary, digital environment, and they are and will remain freely available to users anywhere in the world.

DEBATING DEMOCRACY will also design and deliver an MA level Honors Certificate to students registered in MA courses in five different institutions across Europe. To this end, we have developed a strategic partnership with experienced and highly qualified colleagues in four institutions who are also involved in teaching MA programmes. Together, we will deliver two modules that lay the foundations for informed conceptual analysis and train students in the use of corpora to analyse and debate a range of key concepts in social and political live. The method we will use for the latter consists of datathons that involve live, collaborative analysis and debate. This is an innovative educational model, inspired by hackathons, a creative and effective approach to problem solving in the IT industry. It constitutes an innovative pedagogical tool that is yet to be applied in a structured educational context. Collaborating with other European partner institutions will also enable us to develop pilot corpora in four languages in addition to English: French, Italian, Serbian and Norwegian.


Partner Institutions

University of Oslo, Norway (Lead Institution)

  • Gabriela Saldanha (Project Leader)
  • Eivind Engebretsen
  • Mona Baker
  • Saturnino Luz
  • Shane Sheehan

University of Agder, Norway

  • Luis Pérez-González

Université Paris Cité, France

  • Viktória Nagy

University of Perugia, Italy

  • Federico Zanettin

University of Belgrade, Serbia

  • Irene Fiket
  • Srdjan Prodanovic
  • Maja Pupovac