Marek Kakaščík

In the second instalment of the Innovation Special, we will look into three more projects that use innovative online methods. Either by choice or by necessity, these projects were implemented in online space. With their success, they have managed to prove that we should not be afraid to reach for this option even if it sometimes might seem complicated.

The Tax Detective

At Financial Justice Ireland, we believe that in order to bring about a world free from poverty and inequality we first need a just and sustainable financial system and that global citizenship education is crucial to achieving this aim. Many people find the financial system complex. They believe they have to be experts to engage, and as a result, don’t feel able to take action to bring about change in an area that is crucial for justice and equality.

The problem of how to make financial concepts such as sovereign debt and tax accessible and engaging to people is at the core of our work. We need people to understand how these processes work, how they are connected to justice and equality, and to feel motivated to take action.

With our Bridge 47 project, we are trialling a new and innovative approach: creating a short online game, the Tax Detective, that helps people understand tax dodging. We are experienced in delivering interactive and critical education in formal and informal spaces, but developing an online game from scratch was a departure from our previous work. We specifically targeted members of trade unions in our design and consulted with a number of people involved in the education and justice work of Irish trade unions to understand how to make the game usable in their educational work, and engaging for trade union members.

The rules around how multinational companies play corporation tax are extremely complex, but over the last ten years, more and more people have been making a connection with justice issues. Our game allows the player to take on the role of a ‘Tax Detective’ trying to uncover money being moved to avoid tax. They are presented with a number of fictional scenarios based on real-world techniques and have to choose a ‘tool’ to try and reclaim the money. The three tools represent three approaches to bring about change: the revenue authorities, journalists, or global tax campaigners. The player selects one and is told whether they have been successful or not, with a brief explanation of why.

Tax Detective
Tax Detective

When the game is finished, they are brought to a portal which gives more information about the scenarios used in the game and ways people can take action.

The process of producing this game has been very rewarding and we are looking forward to seeing how it is received. It was a new process for us, and we have learnt a lot from working with the game developers, who were based in an Irish third-level institution, Carlow Institute of Technology, and were very responsive to what we were trying to achieve.

The process of turning our concept into a game, with rules, was more challenging and time-consuming that we initially expected. We didn’t want to dilute the complexity of the issues, and we wanted to ensure the player/learner had a realistic sense of the issues, but equally, this all had to come together as a coherent game that people would enjoy playing.

One of the key decisions we had to make early on was whether to prioritise the ‘game’ element of the game or its educational content. Ultimately, while we have tried to ensure it is enjoyable and educational, we decided our main focus had to be the educational side. This involved making choices such as allowing players more than one chance to select the right tool, removing the time-pressured element so they had some time to reflect on their choices, and in some scenarios not having all ‘winning’ choices lead to the recouping of money to reflect the fact that in the real world, progress on tax justice issues is slow and will not immediately result in more money for governments.

We are happy with the finished product and excited to see how it is received, particularly by trade union learners. Tax justice is a key component of achieving the SDGs, but a difficult one to encourage people to take action on. We hope the Tax Detective will provide a fun and accessible way for members of trade unions, and members of the public, to learn more about these issues and the way they can be a powerful voice for reform of the tax system. The process has been very rewarding and we hope to produce more games like this in the future.

Financial Justice Ireland

Financial Justice Ireland is a global financial justice organisation. We want a financial system that serves the needs of all people, rather than just some people, and which does not take the planet for granted. We critically engage people to understand the structural causes of global inequality and power relations. We aim to empower people in Ireland to take informed action for greater economic justice globally.

Fridays for Facts

In recent years climate awareness in Estonia has increased, but compared to European Union average, is well below average. Speaking subjectively, the majority of the public is unaware of the severity of climate crisis and ecologic collapse. Awareness is the first step towards change. If we want to move towards a sustainable culture, this has to change. In 2019, Fridays For Future youth climate strikes emerged in Estonia, bringing a wave of enthusiastic youth, ready to conquer the world and change it for the better. Often youth's skills and knowledge are no match for their aspirations. We saw this as an opportunity to educate. To assist the activists in acquiring organizing skills to organize effective public events and knowledge on climate change, the project “Facts For Fridays” was written.

The initial goal of the project was to organize 8 interactive educative seminars at Tartu Raekoja plats, where weekly youth climate strikes were held. The seminars would bring top scientists, experts and thought leaders to give lectures at the strikes, connecting them with activists. Activists would have assisted with planning, organizing and marketing the seminars, thereby gaining valuable organizing experience. Climate crisis is a complex problem to understand and solve. Webinars we explored a wide array of topics related to climate change: biodiversity, forestry, energy, transport, economics, international cooperation, climate justice, circular economy, education, finance, social systems and culture. Lectures focused on three key questions: how is the topic related to climate change, how is it connected to human activities and what can be done in the future.

Caption from one of the online webinars

Unfortunately, as the first seminar was about to launch, a state of emergency was declared in Estonia and the seminar along with future seminars had to cancel. Like many social activities at the time, seminars were moved online, thus these were transformed into webinars. With moving the webinars online, we were able to introduce the webinars to a whole new focus group - school students across Estonia. Marketing the webinars to 400+ Estonian schools and life sciences teachers, we reached an even wider audience than initially planned. Instead of introducing two speakers per webinar and having discussion time during the whole event, we introduced one speaker per webinar, which allowed the webinars to fit into 45+45 minutes school lesson paradigm. Introducing one speaker per webinar also enabled us to double the webinars held.

As of the end of June, all webinars have been held. In total, 351 participants joined the webinars. TO our surprise, broadcasting webinars live on social media was a success - views from social media accounted for a total of 4331 views. Recordings of the webinars will soon be finalized and shared with schools, allowing teachers to use the lectures in the classrooms. In the second instalment of the Innovation Special, we will look into three more projects that use innovative online methods. Either by choice or by necessity, these projects were implemented in online space. With their success, they have managed to prove that we should not be afraid to reach for this option even if it sometimes might seem complicated.

Estonian Green Movement

The Estonian Green Movement is a non-profit organisation for environmental protection the aim of which is to improve the environmental situation in Estonia and to guide our society to sustainable, green thinking. Currently, the Estonian Green Movement deals with various environmental issues, such as urban environment, consumption, environmental policy, and energy and climate.

Global Learning Attitude:
My sensitive learning journey

Development education work is not usually implemented with the perspective of the global South and little attention is usually paid to this perspective. However, it is significant to make these perspectives visible in global learning. Especially, because in times of globalisation topics such as political education, social commitment, migration, etc are becoming increasingly important.

Cultural exchanges through specific studies or internships and also private journeys haven’t been as intense as there are nowadays. However, the necessary critical southern perspectives regarding North-South and South-North cooperation are often overlooked. In order to better meet this challenge, MeineWelt e.V. has decided to implement a project organised by experts from the global south. The aim was to deal intensively with the topic of postcolonial perspectives in development education.

The concept of "Global Learning Attitude: My sensitive learning journey" is the core idea of the project. It aims to provide people with tools to work in international and intercultural contexts through educational events and workshops. The main goal of the project is to reflect on their own learning processes and search for their own possibilities to contribute to more respectful and fruitful cultural encounters and fairer.

Virtual rooms
Virtual rooms

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, none of the planned workshops could have been held. However, MeineWelt e.V. was able to implement the project in an online format. This successful new concept allowed participants not only to benefit from a workshop but also to keep the learning process ongoing and continue the reflection process at any time online. Furthermore, this online format offers the possibility to continue working on the concept and to upload further materials and learning modules.

The purpose of the E-Learning is to become a permanent virtual exchange platform, where young people informally learn about topics such as the 17 global sustainability goals, global learning, global power structures, etc. By using this online platform, participants can also gain knowledge about South-North perspectives and development education. The approach is mainly based on the Global Learning Attitude concept of MeineWelt e.V.

The virtual platform is based on three virtual rooms: 1. Self-reflections Tools, 2. Privilege Check, 3. Understanding Global Conflicts and their Context.

The virtual room of Self-reflections Tools aims to promote tools to view power structures and discrimination through critical perspectives. This virtual room should help participants to reflect on the structural and personal level of power. Various stations are available such as Dealing with Pictures, Development Cooperation, Our own Integration Ability, Topics that move us forward, Global learning and Comparable approaches. The participants have also the opportunity to deal intensively with self-evaluation accompanied by questions for reflection.

The Privilege Check virtual room is conceived as a critical journey in imaginary situations with the aim of reflecting visitors’ own privileges. Visitors take a sort of quiz based on the description of various situations they might experience in real life. Based on their answers regarding their reactions or emotions regarding those situations specific are given to them in order to full the reflection on their privileges.

Stations in Self-reflections virtual room
Stations in Self-reflections virtual room

The third virtual room is dedicated to Understanding Global Conflicts and their Context. In this room, participants have the possibilities to deal with war and peace topics and to learn a new version of solution-oriented world distribution game (Weltverteilungsspiel). As an illustration of the critical perspective on development policies, the goal SDG 16 Promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies are considered. In fact, the most important aspect of the issue of a peaceful world is the origin of the weapons which are used in wars and for criminalities. Therefore, the decisive role of the weapon industry in the spread of violence around the world is reflected. Also, the implications such as international homicide, violence against children, human trafficking and sexual violence and the related states of fragility are analysed.

This platform created in a test phase with the support of Project Bridge 47 is planned to develop into a free public learning space for reflection on power structures and post-colonialism.

The special feature of the platform is that it is being developed by a team of experts and practitioners from the global south. In addition to offered virtual space, the team gives visitors the opportunity to participate regularly in online training sessions via Zoom with a Trainer.

MeineWelt e.V. has also developed a learning material called "Reflection box", which can be obtained on request by those who have already attended the workshops.

MeineWelt e.V. would like to thank Bridge47 for supporting this initiative and looks forward to furthering cooperation in the future in the context of the extension of the virtual platform.

Meine Welt

Meine Welt e.V. is an association for power-critical and development policy education work. We are committed to providing more information about global and internal power relations in all forms of education. With our offers, we aim for responsible, discrimination-sensitive educational work.

About the Author

Marek Kakaščík

Position: Innovation and Communications Trainee
Marek assists Bridge 47 with the national work in Slovakia and with communications of our sub-granting mechanism.