The Faculty of Science of Communication at the Sapienza University of Rome in 2005 organized an innovative project about educational and civic participation, called “Political Game” that uses simulation and role play as a way of teaching. In collaboration with students, administrative staff and teachers of Faculty were involved in the simulation of the election for mayor of Rome.
The first step is the organizations of training seminars for students about issues of political communication, electoral dynamics, electoral law, marketing and polls. The second step was the division of the students into teams, each of which represented the electoral committee of a candidate for mayor: one left, one right and a civic list. Within the groups, each student has worked as a professional political communication: candidate for mayor, gosthwriter, spindoctor, head of communications, responsible for polls, responsible for marketing, technical audiovisual, computer experts,...
Within two months, each group planned an electoral campaign, producing audiovisual materials, holding rallies, meeting with voters, organizing face to face between candidates. At the end of the campaign, students, teachers and administrative staff of the Faculty went to vote, experiencing for the first time in Italy electronic voting in collaboration with Ministry of the Interior (cf. http://www.mediamonitor-politica.it/files/PG1_%20Come%20si%20vota.pdf), and determined the winner for mayor of Rome. The students involved have received credits, based on diary writing down where their commitment, for hours and actions.
Purpose. The aim of the initiative was make teaching in innovative ways, involving the students as actors and not as only hearers. During the traditional seminars, students learned theoretical concepts and then they put into practice their knowledge. Moreover, the possibility of reflect on the political dynamics may also encourage a revitalization of democratic and electoral process and encourage greater political participation of young people.
Impact. The request for participation from the students was very high: 397 registration applications were received through a questionnaire designed to measure skills, attitudes and polical ideology of participants (cf. http://www.mediamonitor-politica.it/files/PG1_Slide.pdf). 81 students were selected and divided into three groups: a committee of the left, one right and one representative of a civil list. The involvement of the University and the Ministry of the Interior allowed a good advertising for the project that it culminated in the final announcement of the winners during a public meeting with politicians and journalists. The initiative was reported by several national newspapers (la Repubblica, l’Unità, la Stampa, il Riformista, Panorama, Technology Review, Il Giornale, cf.http://www.mediamonitor-politica.it/node/58, http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineFrame.asp?comeFrom=..., http://www.politicalgame.it/documenti/10.51.51_ilTempo_it%20il%20sito%20..., http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineFrame.asp?comeFrom=..., http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineFrame.asp?comeFrom=...). During the election day was given an evaluation questionnaire about electronic voting and about teaching project. During the months of campaigning, the participation of staff and students of the Faculty was very high, as demonstrated by participation in public events (cf. http://www.mediamonitor-politica.it/files/Report_valutazione_Political%2... for the evalution of the project). The people involved were about 500.
Originality. The Political Game project has involved several structures of the department: courses, professors, office printing, audiovisual laboratories, Dean of the Faculty, administrative staff. In the first month the students participated in seminars of professors and practitioners of political communication to learn the basic concepts to work of an electoral campaig.
Each group had a virtual budget to spend on "consulting" (with specific tariff) with audiovisual professionals and professors of disciplines related to political communication to obtain advice, suggestions and resolve doubts. The Faculty drafted a regulation on the use of audiovisual media and an electoral law and it elected a Master of the game and an Authority to oversee the regulation. In addition, a group of students participating in writing course have been recruited as a panel to perform (with specific tariff) on satisfaction surveys of its mayoral candidate during the election campaign ( regulation available on http://www.mediamonitor-politica.it/files/PG1_Regolamento.pdf).
The audiovisual materials produced by the electoral committees showned during the lessons and distributed within the Faculty. Students made films, commercials, election speeches, newspapers, leaflets, stickers, press releases, flyers, surveys, websites, rallies, poster (cf. http://www.mediamonitor-politica.it/node/51, section "I PARTITI").
It was also introduced a “virtual” dimension. The election campaign was played also on an online platform, “Medita”, who has represented the meeting place between candidates for mayor and supporters / voters (cf.http://www.politicalgame.it/index.asp).
Sustainability. The Political Game had good success: 521 people voted. The Faculty believes that it’s possible to experiment in the future similar projects, halfway betwwen teaching and professionalism, to link universities and the world of work.
In 2007, the Political Game has been replicated in different forms, but with a similar structure, adapting to the demands and needs of different partners: in this case, students were involved in realization of the “communications plan” of a municipality of Rome.