YouCount is a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. Through YouCount we aim to address one of Europe’s most pressing challenges: How to increase social inclusion for young people?
How do people experience social inclusion? From previous studies we know that social inclusion is experienced when three main criteria are met: participation, belonging, and citizenship.
But do young people understand social inclusion that way? They may agree that participating in social life in a meaningful way or feeling connected to others is important, but there may be other dimensions of social inclusion that are relevant for them. Young people also know better than anyone else, what their daily lived experiences of inclusion and exclusion are.
That is why our research team includes young citizen scientists participating as young co-researchers in the project. Throughout the project, they will contribute with their own knowledge on social inclusion and co-create, together with policymakers, community leaders, and other relevant actors in their own communities and regions, new knowledge and innovations that contribute to increasing social inclusion in practice.
Young co-researchers will participate in the project through hands-on citizen science:
Hands-on citizen science involves researchers and young co-researchers creating local living labs, doing interviews, developing dialogue forums, organising local and national workshops and using and app specifically created to gather and share daily lived experiences of inclusion and exclusion. It also involves co-evaluating our impact and how co-created citizen social science worked across the cases as well as within each case.
We call this type of research Youth Citizen Science.
Citizen Social Science is defined as involving equal collaboration between citizen groups (co-researchers) that are sharing a social concern and academic researchers. Youth Citizen Social Science involves equal collaboration between young citizen scientists and academic researchers. However, involving young citizen scientists in research processes on an equal basis with academic researchers poses a whole new set of challenges that need to be looked into carefully. YouCount will provide evidence of actual results of doing Youth Citizen Science to address a complex societal problem.
The overarching objective of YouCount is to generate new knowledge and innovations to increase the social inclusion of youth at risk of exclusion across Europe through co-creative youth citizen social science. Overall, YouCount targets two strands of inquiry: 1) knowledge about social inclusion and how to create social change through the involvement of young citizen scientists and 2) contributing to the scientific knowledge base for Y-CSS for increased scaling. This is reflected in the specific objectives below.
As described in the introduction and call, CS might have many potential beneficial outcomes, yet at the same time, there is a lack of evidence of the actual benefits of CS in practice. More evidence is needed to support CS as a policy priority and use of CS in traditional (social) science. YouCount will thus put CS to a critical test by implementing co-creative Y- CSS projects in nine countries focusing on identifying positive drivers to increase social inclusion of youth with disadvantages and conduct systematic evaluations of the actual outcomes of Y- CSS through a mixed-methods design including pre-and post-measurements and processual data. The evaluation will also include an analysis of the mechanisms influencing social inclusion and the outcomes of CSS, and consider how the beneficial outcomes can be strengthened through maximising impact and recommendations for future R&I. The empirical research in the case studies will feed into the broader evaluation assessments of the costs and benefits of CSS, as described in 2.1. Expected Impact, Table 2.3. An overview is presented in Figure 1.3. The framework for Y-CSS and research design will be advanced throughout the whole research process, as part of the co-creative design (see WP1).