Democracy between Spaces of Citizenship and Civic Competences: Two Explorations with Privileged Witnesses in Italian Context


  • Antonella Nuzzaci University of L’Aquila
  • Andrea Natalini University of L’Aquila
  • Paola Rizzi University of Sassari, shareEU Project Coordinator for Univeristy of L'Aquila



citizen, citizenship, democracy, educational citizenship, civic skills


The contribution analyses the results of two surveys carried out by the Italian team within the international project #ShareEU – Shaping of the European Citizenship in the Post-Totalitarian Societies. Reflections after 15 Years of EU Enlargement, on aspects of citizens’ beliefs and attitudes towards European integration, citizenship and civic competences, including the exploration of concepts such as totalitarianism/authoritarianism, democracy and “democratic life”. The results show that adults are concerned with equipping young people with skills and attitudes that will help them to think and act as citizens, advocates of a citizenship they believe in, preparing them, from the primary level of education, to play a vital role in becoming agents of change rather than simply passive observers of events. The capacity of education to succeed in building respect in individuals for fundamental human rights and the values of an ethic of citizenship is emphasised. Among the agencies, the school is confirmed as the leading institution capable of promoting a culture of citizenship that increases the likelihood that students can become citizens in their values and actions, thus avoid ing the risk of falling into disengagement and iniquity. Democracy seems to be the bearer of fundamental human and common values and is characterized as an effective approach to improve the quality of life, even if the basic question still remains that of how to teach it.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Antonella Nuzzaci, University of L’Aquila

Is Associate Professor of Experimental Pedagogy at the Department of Human Studies at the University of L’Aquila, where she is Dean of the Didactic Area Council in Education and Social Work. She deals with problems of educational experimentalism in the field of evaluation and self-evaluation processes of the Higher Education System; methodological, reflective and digital skills in teacher training; relationships between new alphabetic forms (literacy and multiliteracies) and profiles of school population in the direction of a possible strengthening of the latter through the use of tangible and intangible cultural assets. She is the author of numerous national and international publications.

Andrea Natalini, University of L’Aquila

Is an expert in the fields of Political Studies and International Relations, with a focus on geopolitics, geostrategy and global security, paying particular attention to the historical, social, political and economic aspects of globalization. His interests include the citizenship issues at the European and global level in a historical perspective, taking into account the recent political development influencing the international relations. Publications: I Rapporti tra Aeronautica Italiana e Tedesca Durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale (The Relations between Italian and German Air Forces During the Second World War), Cosenza 2004 and Origini e Sviluppo dei Velivoli Senza pilota (1848-1990) (Unmanned Air Vehicles Origins and Development 1848- 1990), Trento 2008.

Paola Rizzi, University of Sassari, shareEU Project Coordinator for Univeristy of L'Aquila

Is Associate Professor of Techniques of Urban and Regional Planning at DADU, University of Sassari, Italy; Visiting Associate Professor at UDDI, Thamassat University; Visiting Researcher and Scholar at DMUCH/Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage Research Center / Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan; Former Associate Professor at DICEAA, University of L’Aquila; Visiting professor in different Universities as Ritsumeikan University, Kochi University, Jagiellonian University and Cracow Technical University, School of Architecture- University of Michigan among others. Rizzi is an Urban Planner and Designer and also hold a Master in Business Administration. She is co-founder and partner of SDVB9 an architectural and urban design studio in Switzerland and participate to several international architecture design competition. She deals in simulation and territorial analysis techniques, urban design and participatory planning. In the research field she’s undertaken some studies and planning of new tools for urban analysis and public participation to decision and planning processes, on new technologies and communication. The main focus is on a sustainable, inclusive and durable approach to urban design and planning; disaster mitigation in urban and spatial planning processes, special focus is on walkability in reconstruction after disaster and in the pre-disaster planning.


Alberici A., Imparare sempre nella società della conoscenza, Milano 2002.

Beiner R., Theorizing Citizenship, Albany 1995.

Blasko Z., Costa P.D. da, Vera-Toscano E., Civic Attitudes and Behavioural Intentions among 14-year-olds: How Can Education Make a Difference towards a More Democratic and Cohesive Europe?, Luxembourg 2018,

Bombardelli O., Codato M., “Country Report: Civic and Citizenship Education in Italy-thousands of Fragmented Activities Looking for a Systematization”, Journal of Social Science Education, vol. 16, no. 2 (2017), pp. 73-85,

Breen R., Jonsson J.O., “Explaining Change in Social Fluidity: Educational Equalization and Educational Expansion in Twentieth-century Sweden”, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 112, no. 6 (2007), pp. 1775-1810, DOI:

Council of Europe, Competences for Democratic Culture: Living Together as Equals in Culturally Diverse Democratic Societies, Strasbourg 2016.

Council of the European Union, “Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 on Promoting Common Values, Inclusive Education, and the European Dimension of Teaching (2018/C 195/01)”, Official Journal of the European Union, C195, 1, May 2018.

ten Dam G., Geijsel F., Reumerman R., Ledoux G., “Measuring Young People’s Citizenship Competences”, European Journal of Education, vol. 46, no. 3 (2011), pp. 354-372, DOI:

Dewey J., Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, New York 2016.

Dewey J., Democrazia e l’educazione: un’introduzione alla filosofia dell’educazione, Roma 2018.

European Commission, Towards a European Dimension of Education and Active Citizenship, Luxembourg 2000.

European Commission, Education and Training MONITOR 2018, Luxembourg 2018a.

European Commission, Promoting the Relevance of Higher Education, Luxembourg 2018b.

European Commission, Promoting our European Way of Life: Protecting Our Citizens and Our Values, Brussels 2019.

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, Citizenship Education at School in Europe, Brussels 2005.

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, Citizenship Education in Europe, Brussels 2012.

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, Citizenship Education at School in Europe – 2017.

Eurydice Report, Luxembourg 2017.

European Union, Active Citizenship: For a Better European Society, Brussels 2012.

European Union, Declaration on Promoting Citizenship and Common Values of Freedom, Tolerance and Non-discrimination through Education, Brussels 2015.

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, Promoting Citizenship and the Common Values of Freedom, Tolerance and Non-discrimination through Education: Overview of Education Policy Developments in Europe Following the Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015, Luxembourg 2016.

Freire P., Pedagogia degli oppressi, Milano 1970.

Golubeva I., The Links between Education and Active Citizenship/Civic Engagement: NESET Ad hoc Report, Vilnius 2018.

Gordon J., Halasz G., Krawczyk M., Leney T., Michel A., Pepper D., Putkiewicz E., Wisniewski J., Key Competences in Europe: Opening Doors for Lifelong Learners across the School Curriculum and Teacher Education, Warsaw 2009, DOI:

Harber C. (ed.), Developing Democratic Education, Ticknall 1995.

Heater D.B., A Brief History of Citizenship, Edinburgh 2004. DOI:

Hoskins B., Draft Framework on Indicators for Active Citizenship, Paper presented at the European Commission (CRELL) Conference on Working towards Indicators on Active Citizenship, Ispra, Italy 2006.

Hoskins B., Mascherini M., “Measuring Active Citizenship through the Development of a Composite Indicator”, Journal of Social Indicator Research, vol. 90, no. 3 (2009), pp. 459-488, DOI:

Janoski T., Gran B., “Political Citizenship: Foundations of Rights”, in: E.F. Isin, B.S. Turner (eds.), Handbook of Citizenship Studies, London 2002, pp. 13-52, DOI:

Joris M., Agirdag O., “In Search of Good Citizenship Education: a Normative Analysis of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) (2019)”, European Journal of Education, vol. 54, no. 2 (2019), pp. 287-298, DOI:

Kennedy K.J., “Student Constructions of ‘ActiveCitizenship’: What Does Participation Mean to Students?”, British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 55, no. 3 (2007), pp. 304-324, DOI:

Kerr D., “Research on Citizenship Education in Europe: A survey”, in: V. Georgi (ed.), The Making of Citizens in Europe: New Perspectives on Citizenship Education, Bonn 2008, pp. 167-178.

KeyCoNet, Literature Review of the Literature: Key Competence Development in School Education in Europe, Brussels 2013.

Kirlin M., The Role of Civic Skills in Fostering Civic Engagement. CIRCLE Working Paper, No. 6, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) 2003.

Lawton D., “Overview: Citizenship Education in Context”, in: D. Lawton, J. Cairns, R. Gardner (eds.), Education for Citizenship, London 2004, pp. 9-13.

Levine P., “Civic Knowledge”, in: M. Edwards (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society, Oxford 2011, pp. 362-376, DOI:

Mezirow J., Apprendimento e trasformazione. Il significato dell’esperienza e il valore della riflessione nell’apprendimento degli adulti, Milano 2003.

Nuzzaci A., Rizzi P., Cittadinanza, educazione, diritti: progettare gli spazi democratici e partecipativi.

Il Progetto #ShareEU / Citizenship, Education, Rights: Designing Democratic and Participatory Spaces. The #ShareEU Project, Lecce–Brescia 2020.

OECD, Global Competency for an Inclusive World, Paris 2016.

OECD, Trends Shaping Education 2019, Paris 2019.

OECD, PISA 2018 Assessment and Analytical Framework, Paris 2019.

OECD, PISA 2018 Results (Volume I): What Students Know and Can Do, Paris 2019.

Schulz W., Ainley J., Fraillon J., Losito B., Agrusti G., Friedman T., Becoming Citizens in a Changing World: IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2016 International Report, Amsterdam 2017, DOI:

Svennevig H., Jerome L., Elwick A., “Countering Violent Extremism in Education: A Human Rights Analysis”, Human Rights Education Review, vol. 4, no. 1 (2021), pp. 91-110, DOI:

Szelényi K.A., Rhoads R., “Citizenship in a Global Context: The Perspectives of International Graduate Students in the United States”, Comparative Education Review, vol. 51, no. 1 (2007), pp. 25-47, DOI:

Tarozzi M., Inguaggiato C., “Implementing Global Citizenship Education in EU Primary Schools: The Role of Government Ministries”, International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning, vol. 10, no. 1 (2018), pp. 21-38, DOI:

Tarozzi M. (ed.), Educazione alla cittadinanza. Comunità e diritti, Milano 2005.




How to Cite

Nuzzaci, Antonella, Andrea Natalini, and Paola Rizzi. 2022. “Democracy Between Spaces of Citizenship and Civic Competences: Two Explorations With Privileged Witnesses in Italian Context”. Politeja 19 (1(76):147-66.