Governance, Civic and Geographic Education, and Local Development: The “We Propose” Project

Governance, Civic and Geographic Education, and Local Development: The “We Propose” Project

Carlos Gonçalves, Sérgio Claudino
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4402-0.ch012
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Civic and geographic education determines, fosters, and consolidates governance systems. To this end, calling for the participation of young people is both indispensable and difficult. The case study that we discuss in this chapter, the “We Propose” Project (PNP), makes use of geography's own competences to operationalize principles that reinforce the citizenship and governance systems needed to consolidate democracy. The results show that this case study has the right principles and methodology to engage young people. These aspects are significant to the construction of public policies that foster civic education, territorial culture, and civic participation in governance systems.
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The concept of governance first began to be used in the United States of America after the First World War to describe new ways of regulating the economic activities, in which decisions were agreed among companies. In the 1980s, the term became more widespread in the realm of business cooperation, but also in public administration, where a new perspective of shared management took hold. International relations then incorporated the concept, applying it to international governance, multilevel governance, and the idea of “good governance”. And with the shift towards application in public policy, certain expressions emerged, such as: network governance, governance for sustainability and spatial governance. They imply building a fruitful relationship between the state, market, and civil society, since all are (or should be) involved in decision-making processes (Fernandes et al. 2016).

Governance does not mean the same thing as governing: governing refers to actions and activities designed to guide, drive, control or manage sectors of societies. Governance, on the other hand, comes from the pattern of decisions made by those who manage social, political or administrative activities. Governance is also distinct from government. Government is the responsibility of the bodies, institutions and actions of the formal authorities of the state. Governance includes the proceedings of the formal and informal agents of civil society (Jordan, 2008). This benchmark, which encompasses the complexity of all the forces that have an influence on the transformation of territories, goes beyond political and administrative forces and is disconnected from hierarchical coordination systems. It enables a reflection on the cultural conditions for transformations in civilizations, such as those that envisage sustainability in development processes (Jordan, 2008).

Governance includes the mechanisms for coordinating, regulating and directing actions, procedures or policies in a specific sector (local development, for example), made possible by socially agreed-upon understandings. It is within the scope of governance systems that relationships between the state (in its different areas) and citizens are built. And it is also where relationships between state bodies and private institutions are formed, or even relationships among those that provide services, those that acquire them, markets, and political bodies (Obeng-odoom, 2012). Drawing citizens into governance systems is a cross-cutting objective of democracy. By consolidating this architecture of relationships, societies foster (or perhaps fail to foster) what Fung and Wright (2003) called “Empowered Participatory Governance”. In this model of participatory governance, which is both generated by and generates empowerment, the propensity towards deliberative democracy branches out horizontally, crossing into different themes and over administrative borders. And, in a vertical direction, from the highest levels to the lowest in the institutional hierarchy and social structure (Fung & Wright, 2003).

At a different level, Pouw and De Bruijne (2015) developed connections between strategic governance and inclusive development. It is argued that interactive, strategic governance, at global and at local levels, is a prerequisite for implementing inclusive development models, transferring competences to communities. This means they can adopt the most appropriate governance instruments to align the everyday efforts of political decision-makers, planners, media and citizens, thereby fighting what they describe as the geography of fear.

Deepening systems of spatial governance involves the capacity that the agents demonstrate to base development decisions on social, cultural and institutional conditions. Knowledge of resources in the territory, the architecture of institutions and conflicting interests is both cause and consequence of a greater or lesser territorial culture. Ferrão (2011, p. 115) mentions this “territorial culture” in connection with a set of “beliefs and values materialized in attitudes, competences and everyday practices by the population in general.” Put more directly, territorial culture entails the involvement of “members of the scientific, technical and political communities.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Civic-Geographic Education: A methodology that create prepositive citizenship able to influence the territory’s (re)construction and bring the young people to the center of governance systems.

Government: The responsibility of the bodies, institutions, and actions of the formal authorities of the state.

Governance: The pattern of decisions made by those who manage social, political, or administrative activities.

We Propose Project: A constructivist perspective of learning supported in feel work dedicated to the identification of local development problems and to solutions formulation.

Spatial Governance Systems: A way of cooperation that bring together formal and informal agents that make decisions about territories’ transformations.

Planning Citizenship: A well-informed community that participate in decision-making processes to solving civilizational problems through planning.

Public Geography: An integral part of applied geography, achieved in planning, when this includes the communication to decide upon shared forms of progress.

Territorial Culture: A set of beliefs and values materialized in attitudes, competences and everyday practices shared by the population in general that (re)design their daily life territory.

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