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The Road to Democracy and Citizenship


The European Union is a democratic organisation. All countries that form the EU have democratic governments. All citizens of Europe live in either a democratic republic or a democratic constitutional monarchy.

It hasn't always been so!

Living in a country in the EU today we may take democracy and citizenship for granted. But this can idea be dangerous! For many of the countries now members of the EU democracy is young. The EU was formed by the Treaty of Rome in 1958 and became a union in 1990 with the treaty of Maastricht. During this short 32 year period many of the countries of the EU have changed from being governed by dictators to democracy. Here we can name all the former Eastern block communist countries, and nationalists controlled countries such as Spain, Portugal and during certain periods Greece. Even the established democracies of western Europe such as France, the UK , Holland and Belgium gave up their non-democratic colonial governance around the world during this period. The EU has had a stabilising and democratising effect upon Europe and the world.

Of course democratic change was happening throughout the world during the same period. One after one, dictatorships were toppled and colonial powers removed. "People power" or change from the bottom up was used. When freedom of speech is restricted, people often turned to cultural activities such as song, dance, theatre and literature in order to bring about change. The latest example of this can be seen in the "Arab spring", where social media played a large part in the move towards democracy.

Fall-of-the-Berlin-wall 400wide


This quest asks you to explore the methods people have used to make democratic change. After researching what types of revolution people have made (violent, non violent and pacifist) you will divide into groups of three or four. Each group will choose to become a member of one of a revolutionary committee. Using the recommended websites, follow the process detailing how you would publicise or make propaganda for your own revolution.

Some questions to consider:

What was life like for you before, during, and after the Revolution?

Did you support the Revolutionary causes?

What events would you participate in?

Was the Revolution a success?

Martin Luther King Jr 400


Revolution !

Use the Wikipedia page on Revolutions and Rebellions

What do the dates and places below have in common?

1642 London, England
1775 Pennsylvania, USA
1789 Paris, France
1791 Port au Prince, Haiti
1830 Brussels, Belgium
1880 Transvaal, South Africa
1916 Dublin, Ireland
1918 St. Petersburg, Russia
1949 Beijing, China
1952 Nairobi, Kenya
1956 Havana, Cuba
1959 Sharpeville, South Africa
1975 Soweto, South Africa

Civil Resitance and People Power

During the last 40 years many mostly non- violent "revolutions" have taken place all over the world. Some have led only to small changes in society but some have toppled dictators and changed regimes taking countries from dictatorships to democracies. These have been named loosely, the "colour" revolutions by the world media. Use the Wikipedia article on Colour Revolution to identify each non-violent revolution by its "colour". In groups research and present a short presentation of three "colour" event. Try to identify cultural events that may have been associated.

The Revolutions of 1989 also known as the Fall of Communism in Europe, the Collapse of Communism, the Revolutions of Central and Eastern Europe and the Autumn of Nations, were a revolutionary wave which overthrew the communist states in various Central and Eastern European countries. The events began in Poland in 1989 and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. One feature common to most of these developments was the extensive use of campaigns of civil resistance demonstrating popular opposition to the continuation of one-party rule and contributing to the pressure for change. Among the famous anti-Communist revolutions was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which served as the symbolic gateway to German reunification in 1990.

Research three of the examples of civil resistance to tell what happened there

  1. Can you identify any common themes? What was being objected to? What was being fought for? What strategies were used?
  2. Try to distinguish peaceful and violent forms of protest
  3. What has been the lasting impact of each of these acts of rebellion?
  4. Do they necessarily lead to improvement?
  5. We tend to see democracy as a political solution to social ills. How does this idea relate to these acts of resistance
  6. What are the essential differences in campaigning for change in a democracy within the political systems investigated here?
  7. Try to find a cultural event that is associated or related with your chosen dates and places i.e. a song, a book, theatre etc


Non-violent Revolution

The Woman's suffrage movement at the beginning of the 20th century, The Indian Independence movement, the US Civil Rights movement, the Labour movement in the 1930s, The Black Sash movement in South Africa and other movements are example of civil resistance. They did not just engage in activism, they organized people, mobilized them by the millions, and galvanized participation from a broad cross section of society. Collectively, these movements provide a model for how non-violent change can be organized to win rights, justice and change in very adverse conditions.

Research more about non-violent protest and find out more about the following movements:

  • The Suffragettes
  • Ghandi and India Independence.
  • Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement in the USA
  • The Black Sash movement in South Africa
  • Civil Rights marches in Northern Ireland in the 1960's


In your groups choose one of the above and make a presentation for your class.

What were the main issues?
Who were the main actors?
What was the outcome?
What strategies were used?
Can you find protest songs associated with the Civil Rights movements?


Advertising a revolution!

Individuals, groups, organisations produce posters, badges, songs and other marks of resistance, in order to protest against dictatorships and support resistance.

Thumb BADGES Thumb Stamps Thumb Anti-Apartheid-Demonstrations


Design a badge, postage stamp and poster to demonstrate about something you feel strongly for.

Compose a poem or rap about something you feel strongly for.

If you want to campaign for change what other non-violent strategies can you use?




List of revolutions and rebellions - Wikipedia
Colour Revolution - Wikipedia
Campaign! Make an Impact - British Library
Revolutions of 1989 - Wikipeda
Civil Resistance - Wikipedia
Civil Resistance Studies


Thumb Martin Luther King Jr Thumb Civil Rights Commemoration Coalisland Thumb USSR stamp M.Gandi 1969 Thumb Antiglobalist Demonstration Posters Thumb Suffragette-Emily-Wi



Learning outcomes

  • Make comparisons between the complex reasons for revolution
  • Describe the major events in recent world history that have been formed by revolution
  • Find out about the countries of the EU and their path to Democracy
  • Become an active and informed (future) citizen


Skills acquired

Competences acquired

Knowledge acquired

  • Use various documents to find facts about historic events
  • Explore several practical actions to "promote" non-violent change in society
  • Writing, making music, posters, petitions etc


  • Developing the capacity to analyse an issue from multiple perspectives
  • Students acquire a heightened sense of global interconnections and interdependencies.
  • Understand the necessity of applying knowledge and values to solve real-world issues


  • Major revolutions in the world
  • Major events in the world 1970 to present
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the historical, political, scientific, cultural and socioeconomic interconnections that cause revolutions
  • Finding out non-violent methods of promoting change
  • Find out more about the move from dictatorship to democracy in Europe.