Three words: Politics, Democracy, Debate. These are the aims of the Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield which has been appointed the prestigious task of being the Economic and Social Research Council ‘Knowledge Exchange Hub’ (ESRC).

Why is this important? You may ask. Well, from the 1st of July, the team, consisting of Crick Centre directors Professor Matthew Flinders, Dr Matt Wood and Dr Kate Dommett, as well as two Knowledge Exchange Fellows: Titus Alexander, the Convenor of Democracy Matters UK and our own Matteo Bergamini, the founder and Director of Shout Out UK, will all be working hard to produce a series of thought-provoking films to engage discussion amongst young people about ‘democracy and constitutional change’.

Each of these individuals aim to bring their unique expertise to ensure that young people such as yourself receive the most up-to-date, accurate and carefully researched information, to enable informed discussion and the construction of weighted opinion.

Matteo Bergamini says:

‘Shout Out UK aims to get more young people involved in politics through journalism, so it’s great to see the ESRC take such an initiative and amazing to be part of it. As the next generation, it’s our right as well as our duty to engage with politics and to learn and discuss the best ways to change our society for the better’.

Politics may not be something you think is that important, but consider this; everything you are able to do and have, from the school and university you attend to the job prospects you will experience, these are things directly or indirectly determined by our country’s political system. If you’re concerned that GMO products may be entering the supermarkets or if you can’t understand why the price of a decent apartment is so high that you need to work two jobs just to afford the rent and not starve – then, you really should care about politics.

This is where the Crick Centre’s new programme comes in. As Titus Alexander put it:

‘Democracy Matters wants to empower people to take part in the process of constitutional change, so we are very excited about the potential of this project to widen the debate’.

Too often, young people live in an optimistic bubble where they think that all the information and opportunities for growth and change are out there. They continue thinking this until the day when they encounter obstacles, be that not being accepted to your first choice of university, or failing to find work that actually reflects your interests and skills. This is the harsh reality of an everyday world, but it can get better – if you become more aware and more proactive.

Professor Flinders adds:

‘It’s great to be working with the ESRC as a Knowledge Exchange Hub as there can hardly have been a better time to ensure that public debates are underpinned by the very best available research and evidence. Our aim is to really push the boundaries of engaged scholarship’.

This means, all you have to do, is immerse yourself and come out more informed, confident and decided about the kind of society you want to help build. So go ahead, what’s stopping you?

For more information and to keep up with the Crick Centre’s work, visit their website here.

For more information about the ESRC’s Knowledge Exchange Hub programme, visit their website here.