Project HEBE is a research project financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness that analyzes youth empowerment and the spaces, moments and processes that shape it. The research is a collaboration of four Catalan universities: The University of Girona (the project leader), the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University.
Youth empowerment, which is defined in the first part of the research, refers to the process of acquiring individual knowledge, skills and abilities to face the societal challenges of the 21st century. In recent years, the concept of empowerment has been relevant to youth policy, political discourse and pedagogical strategies, but it has not yet received a precise definition. The ultimate objectives of this research are to attempt to define youth empowerment and to define and identify the spaces, moments and processes that influence this process of empowerment.
In order to achieve the first objective, we have delved into the concept of empowerment through a theoretical analysis of the term. To achieve the second objective, we have utilized the following methodologies: a questionnaire for young people about their perspective of empowerment, analysis and rereading of a group of young people’s life stories, analysis of the results to create a range of indicators of empowerment and, finally, the Audiovisual Pedagogy workshop that has led to the Project HEBE Webdoc.
In order to reach the aforementioned objectives, the following three research methodologies were used: life stories told by a representative sample of young people, participatory evaluation by means of a questionnaire and, finally, the creation of an interactive documentary that serves as a tool for analysis and reflection on youth empowerment.
We dedicated the first phase of Project HEBE to conceptualizing the concept of empowerment, working with and analyzing the existing theoretical framework. The objective of this first phase was to attempt to define the concept of empowerment.
In the second phase of Project HEBE, we established a number of indicators of empowerment obtained within the framework of the inter-university research project: the participatory evaluation of community action as a learning methodology for individual and community empowerment. The indicators have been confirmed and validated by the existing scientific literature as well as by experts in the field of empowerment. These confirmed indicators of empowerment have been confirmed by a group of young people through four processes of participatory evaluation and six instances of sharing their life stories.
In the third phase of Project HEBE, we composed a questionnaire for young people about empowerment in order to determine the level of empowerment among youth and the ages in which it appears, as well as to validate the research’s hypothesis about spaces, moments and processes of empowerment.
In the fourth phase of Project HEBE, we created the HEBE Webdoc (an interactive documentary about youth empowerment) with two objectives: to design a participatory methodology for research on empowerment, and to create an interactive platform for sharing experiences of empowerment.
In the fifth phase of Project HEBE, we triangulated the results obtained from the various methodologies applied in order to draw conclusions about the research.