The University of Santo Tomas Research Center for Social Sciences and Education (RCSSEd) partnered the Vatican’s Fondazione Gravissimum Educationis in offering a free webinar series on “Understanding 21st-Century Democracy,” which will last from August 2020 to January 2021. The series is “aimed at promoting democratic citizenship enlightened by the Social Teaching of the Church,” according to RCSSEd Director Belinda D.V. de Castro, PhD.

Discussions on democracy are vital in the Philippines, which was tagged as a “flawed democracy” based on a study by the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit. The organizers of the series argue that educators play a crucial role in this discussion, and it can begin in engendering a democratic school climate and helping promote civic ideals.

As such, the series aims to: describe the nature, role, and processes of democracy that shape human affairs; discuss how education serves as a vehicle in advancing democracy and its underlying processes; and apply principles of service learning as education’s proactive contribution to strengthen democracy. The series is divided into three conversation strands: 1) Understanding Democracy as a Human Enterprise; 2) Embracing Democracy as Educational Commitment; and 3) Doing Service Learning as a way to democratize Philippine society.

Comprising the roster of speakers are Prof. Tina Nabatchi, PhD (Syracuse University, USA); Assoc. Prof. Edson C. Tandoc, PhD (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore); Prof. Sorpong Peou, PhD (Ryerson University, Canada); Assoc. Prof. Barbara Wejnert, PhD (University of Buffalo, USA); Assoc. Prof. David Zyngier, PhD (Southern Cross University, Australia); Prof. Kerry John Kennedy, PhD (The Education University of Hongkong); Prof. Mark Anthony D. Abenir, DSD (Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines); Sherlyne Amonte-Acosta, PhD (SEAMEO-Innotech Philippines); and Assoc. Prof. Deborah Henderson, PhD (Queensland University of Technology, Australia).

The series, which will take place in the UST Cloud Campus platform, has for its intended participants Master Teachers in Social Studies of Philippine schools, regional supervisors of the Department of Education, and the members of the Democracy Local Antenna Units in 13 countries. In the Philippines, Tourism and Hospitality Management Full Professor Allan B. de Guzman, PhD is the Coordinator of the Local Antenna, with RCSSEd Director de Castro and Education’s Assoc. Prof. Joel L. Adamos, EdD as members.

The event is done in cooperation with the National Educators Academy of the Philippines and the Teacher Education Council of the Philippines.