In early April 2020, the Youth Section at the Goetheanum held an online gathering with youth from around the world to open a space for sharing and reflecting upon experiences brought by the COVID-19 global crisis. A particular question about the state of reality after the pandemic arose: could one resume their life just as they were before the crisis, or would it be time for changes to occur in a way that a new lifestyle would arise for people and their institutions?
Since 2017, the research team of the Youth Section has been working with the question “what would the world look like in 2030 if what lives within me becomes a reality, and what will I do to make it happen?”; it seemed that the frame question of our research could be adapted to the present times in a way that would enable possible participants to engage with it in a much more immediate and concrete manner. For the researchers, it would be an opportunity to expand data and test new methods of research. It would be an opportunity for all involved to reflect on the effects that the present world situation is having on humanity, taking one’s experiences as living examples of it.
What we are seeking to learn
(Re)Search is a collaborative and participatory research that has two branches of study: The first, focuses on learning about and understanding young people’s reality. By opening up spaces of dialogue between peers and individual self-reflection, we listen to what youth have to say about their life experiences, the world they live in and the relationship between the two aspects.
The second branch concentrates on the observation and development of research methodologies that enable an empowering process in participants to happen. By “empowerment” we mean the process of engaging critically with one’s own life-narrative. As a result, the participant can gain a new degree of self-awareness, e.g. identifying patterns, the significance of certain biographical facts, the recognition of one’s tools in the face of certain challenges, key motivations that presently guide them, etc. An increase in one’s sense of agency may then also take place.
The fact that (Re)Search is a peer-led social study means that the investigators’ experiences are also considered. How we choose to collect, analyse and narrate data is also a statement on being young. The way in which we develop methodologies of empowerment is also an example of young people’s initiative in action and what we seek to bring to the fields of social research and spiritual science.
Last but not least, the project metamorphoses according to the way in which it is received by third parties and the reality of the times in which it lives. That is to say, when individuals or organisations give feedback, ask questions or make requests, these are absorbed by the project as fuel for its development; when a crisis such as the COVID-19 arises in the world –with all its implications– the team takes it as an opportunity to deepen the two branches of study. Thus, our objectives here are:
- To study and understand the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had in the reality (life experiences) of young people.
- To devise apt methodologies of participatory research that enable a process of empowerment for participants during the COVID-19 lockdown and post-lockdown phases.
Here’s what the process looks like for us today. Everyone who is interested in joining us can write us an email to show their interest in participating.