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Students as active citizens: A systems perspective on a Jean Monnet module, experiential learning and participative approaches

Igor Perko (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia)
Zoraida Mendiwelso-Bendek (Business School, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 13 June 2019

Issue publication date: 19 September 2019




Students develop knowledge through an ongoing process of learning embodied in their daily experiences. As citizens, they develop an identity in their communities as they build relationships through recurrent interactions, thus constructing citizenship by strengthening stable interactions. This paper aims to examine the development of student active citizenship within a Jean Monnet module summer school that uses a participative approach and experiential learning.


The research provides a multi-level systems perspective on the learning experience in a Jean Monnet module. It combines state-of-the-art analysis of the Jean Monnet modules reports, analysis of a selected module’s activities and delayed participants feedback analysis. The methodology addresses complexity at multiple levels and leaves sufficient variance to invite readers to test the approaches themselves.


First, opportunities and gaps in the development of active citizen abilities were identified within the Jean Monnet modules. Second, it was established that the use of a participative approach and experiential learning aligned activities in the learning process yielded positive results in participant engagement. Third, long-term effects in the form of an improved understanding of active citizenship and the execution of activities in real life were also observed. The authors point to the need for active communication in the development of a full-cycle experiential learning process. Additionally, the multi-level monitoring model contributed positively towards the continual improvement of the learning process, and thus, provided a learning experience for teachers.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited regarding the clear articulation of the research results, rendering comparison with other learning experience reports challenging.

Practical implications

For lecturers, the importance of integrating the participative approach into the student learning process is documented; the effects of experience learning on students’ active participation are presented; and the importance of systems perspective on multiple aspects of the learning process is reinforced. For students, an example of the importance of being active in the learning process and using available resources is provided. For policymakers, the paper attests to the importance of learning programmes expanding the limitations of the regular curricula and the need to support additional programmes and the benefits of a participative approach and experience learning in the process of developing active citizens.

Social implications

The authors point to the need for authentic situational-context experience and active communication in the learning process. Additionally, the authors provide an example of systems investigation of the learning process.


The paper identifies the gap between the Jean Monnet modules and active citizen abilities and provides a potential approach towards reducing them. It also provides a multi-level method for monitoring and adjusting the learning process.



Perko, I. and Mendiwelso-Bendek, Z. (2019), "Students as active citizens: A systems perspective on a Jean Monnet module, experiential learning and participative approaches", Kybernetes, Vol. 48 No. 7, pp. 1437-1462.



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