Research Assistant Opportunity – Democracy Matters Project

Are you a PhD or Masters student who would like to broaden your networks with a team of leading international political scientists?

Would you like experience on a first of its kind study on democracy in the UK?

You are invited to participate in a key role (as facilitator, note-taker or logistical support) for an innovative citizens’ assembly pilot to be led by the University of Sheffield.

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The role of facilitator is vital as the host to discussions based on information presented in plenary sessions. Meanwhile, the note-taking and logistical roles are vital to the research component of this pilot.

 The way we are governed is changing. In Scotland, Wales and some parts of England, more powers are being shifted away from Westminster and toward representatives at the local level. This raises questions about the future of decentralisation, devolution and democracy in this nation.

With the support of the Economic and Social Research Council, academics and civil society organisations are bringing together politicians, regional leaders and the public to debate a range of options for Britain’s constitutional future. Citizen assemblies lend themselves to providing answers to these sorts of questions. These approaches emphasize the participation of those most affected by a decision in that decision.

Two citizens’ assemblies will be run in Sheffield (October 16-17, November 7-8) at the Novotel Hotel. These pilots will consider the question of decentralisation in England, and specifically how new powers can be established in a form supported by the people who live in each region.

The opportunity:

  • to be a part of the first citizens’ assembly of this kind to be held in England;
  • to play a meaningful role in changing how our politicians make decisions;
  • to build your academic networks and exposure to leading-edge political science research.

The commitment:

  • to attend a for one weekend full time in October and November 2015;
  • to attend a training workshop on the Friday before each assembly;
  • to host group discussions with up to 9 people on options for decentralisation in England;
  • to adhere to the assembly guidelines and to implement research protocols.

Our recognition:

  • all meals provided for the four days of assemblies;
  • university-endorsed certificate of participation;
  • academic team will provide a written reference (on request).

Outputs:

  • the participants and researchers in the assemblies will produce a report for political leaders;
  • academic papers and practitioners guides on conducting these forms of citizen assemblies;
  • other outputs to inform policy practitioners, civil servants, the media and the broader public.

To find out more visit: http://citizensassembly.co.uk/

Professor Matthew Flinders                                           (University of Sheffield)

 

Roles and Responsibilities Specification

The roles of facilitator, note-taker or logistical support will be vital to the success of the pilot assemblies. These are important research roles and while training will be provided, they are not professional development and are very different to conventional academic teaching or tutoring roles.

Facilitator:

Assembly facilitators will guide groups of up to 9 participants in discussions around politics, political issues and governance. Facilitators will need the following:

  • strong verbal and interpersonal skills;
  • confidence to speak and support others to speak in English;
  • capacity to manage a small group discussion;
  • ability to keep to strict time limits;
  • willingness to undertake pre-event training;
  • commitment to conform to project protocols and ethics guidelines.

Note-taker:

Assembly note-takers will record the contents of discussion on behalf of the participants in small group discussions. These notes will be primarily for the participants to support their process of deliberation over the four days of assemblies. Note-takers will need the following:

  • ability to listen carefully to group discussions;
  • capacity to record information quickly and accurately;
  • commitment to serving the interests of the group;
  • ability with (or willingness to learn) note-taking strategies;
  • willingness to undertake pre-event training;
  • commitment to conform to project protocols and ethics guidelines.

Research assistant/logistical support:

Assembly RAs will record the contents of discussion in small group discussions on behalf of the research team. These notes will be primarily for the team to plan its transcription, analysis and future research activities. RAs will need the following:

  • ability to listen carefully to group discussions;
  • capacity to record information quickly and accurately;
  • commitment to serving the priorities of the research team;
  • ability with (or willingness to learn) note-taking strategies;
  • willingness to undertake pre-event training;
  • commitment to conform to project protocols and ethics guidelines.

Each volunteer will receive training in all three roles at a pre-assembly event on the 16th of October.

Attendance at this training event is a pre-requisite to taking on a role at the pilot assemblies.

Send Expressions of Interest by email to B.Prosser@sheffield.ac.uk.

Please respond ASAP as places are limited for each assembly.