Legislative Theater: Participative and Democratic Methodology in the course of Constitution and Democracy

By Daniel Gaviria Tobón

 

 

The Legislative Theater is part of a Brazilian theater current called ‘Theater of the Oppressed’. Also, this current includes other techniques such as Theater for Deaf, Image Theater, Newspaper Theater, Forum Theater and Invisible Theater. The course of Constitution and Democracy implements all of these techniques. The Theater of the Oppressed is supervised by Professor Betsy Perafán at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She uses these techniques with the aim of achieving not only the academic purposes of the subject (knowledge and use of the human rights), but also to enable the students to recognize the effect of the methodology in their ethical and civic education, especially promoting social responsibility by active and supportive participation in the social welfare (Perafán, 2016)

It is important to highlight that the course of Constitution and Democracy is mandatory for all students at the university, except for law students. Therefore, the class is a multidisciplinary space, with people from different schools of thought and knowledge. The active participation of the students in the theater display gives a holistic view to the activities due to the personal responses and the arguments of the other members. As a result, “the participants live the situation and act; they have more probability of acting ethically in real life because that had already the chance to do it. Knowledge comes with experience” (Perafán, 2013).

In the video, we present two experiences of the Legislative Theater in the Course of Constitution and Democracy. One of these suggests an alternative way to curb instances of sexual harassment in the university. The other one proposes changing an existing agreement between the university and an official hospital.

Both experiences subsequently influenced real legislative changes in the university. In the first one, the university created and approved a care protocol in case of sexual harassment. In the second one, the contract with the public hospital strengthened the pedagogical and ethical training of doctors. Through the Theater of the Oppressed, we develop participative and democratic skills and competencies. It is a funny way to interact with the legislative mechanisms and the laws. Furthermore, while practicing the techniques of the Theater of the Oppressed, we live social problems in the classroom. Having lived these experiences before, we would be prepared to face them and take action if we face a similar situation in real life.

Video Created by Betsy Perafán and Conecta-Te  -University of Los Andes- and Subtitled by Daniel Gaviria

References

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About the author

Daniel Gaviria_ Photo
Daniel Gaviria Tobón is an eighth semester student of Civil Engineering at University of Los Andes, Colombia: “I am an active and participative student with critical, creative and careful thinking. Therefore, I consider that I am responsible for my personal transformation that will lead to a collective transformation. To accomplish this, I have been a member of participation groups that contribute socially in the university. For example, the Support Network for Scholarship students and students in financial programs –ANDAR, in which I participated as a member of the board during the second half of 2014; in addition, the Student Chapter of Civil and Environmental Engineering – CIAM- , in which I performed as President during the second half of 2015. Currently, I’m being part of CIAM as a member; as well I’m participating in the Chapter of Civil and Environmental Engineers of the Alumni Association of the university -ICAANDES- as a guest member. I was undergraduate teaching assistant of some courses such as “Constitution and democracy” during the second half of 2014 and “Statics” from the first half of 2016 until now. Also, I participated in the student workshop on “Innovative and Critical Approaches to Higher Education in the 21st Century” at RUC (Roskilde, Denmark) in 2016.
I am interested in participation groups as a complement of University education. Moreover, I like alternative ways to teach and develop complementary skills and competences such as the Theater of the Oppressed.”

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