The big challenges facing the UK such as terrorism and climate change cannot be solved "unless we involve the people of this country", Gordon Brown says.
Gordon Brown: Due to become PM later this month
To achieve that the Labour Party must reform and modernise again, he told a youth hustings in Oxford.
"Only 1% of the population are members of political parties," he said, so citizens' juries and sites like MySpace needed to be used to involve people.
The six contenders to be Labour's next deputy leader also took part.
Mr Brown has been travelling the country with the deputy leadership contenders and taking part in the hustings, even though he has no competition for the role of Labour leader.
High profile deputies
He is due to officially replace Tony Blair as Labour leader on Sunday 24 June, and take over as prime minister on Wednesday 27 June.
The hustings in Oxford was a special one for young Labour members - under the age of 27 - and was attended by several hundred people.
He faced a noisy protest from anti-war campaigners outside the Sunday lunchtime event.
Inside he said "we are the generation" that could make the difference on tackling global warming and ensuring that every child in the world got access to education.
During the question and answer session he was pressed on NHS and nurse pay deals, saying the Labour Party valued their work but "we have got to combat inflation in our economy".
Meanwhile, with voting in full swing among Labour Party members and affiliated trade union members, the six deputy leadership contenders have undergone a high-profile campaign.
Kidnap and torture
International Development Secretary Hilary Benn defended the G8 deal on aid and development, telling the BBC he thought Bob Geldof "had gone a bit over the top" with his criticism.
Party chairwoman Hazel Blears was accused by the Conservatives of scapegoating immigrants after saying in an Independent on Sunday newspaper interview: "We have got areas in Salford where private landlords are letting properties with 10 and 12 people in there.
"Now, the community doesn't object to the people - they object to the exploitation and the fact that that leads to people being on the street drinking, anti-social behaviour."
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, meanwhile accused Home Secretary John Reid of "fanning up" last week's row over stop-and-question powers possibly being rolled out across the UK.
Mr Hain told BBC Wales's Politics Show: "I don't believe in macho posturing on law and order and terrorism."
Justice minister Harriet Harman told Sky News that international law should be changed to ensure the government was notified if secret flights carrying terrorist suspects to places where they might face possible torture passed through the UK.
Demanding the truth
Ms Harman said: "We would not be prepared to be party to kidnap or torture. The difficulty is there is no obligation in international law to report if you are taking prisoners through people's airspace or even landing and taking off again."
Education Secretary Alan Johnson said the General Teaching Council was "profoundly wrong" if it thought scrapping national tests for school children would improve education standards.
He told BBC News 24: "Parents like to know what their schools are like, they like to know what the educational attainment is in each of the schools in their locality, they want transparency, they want openness and they want accountability."
Meanwhile backbench Labour MP Jon Cruddas said there was a need for standardised tests but questioned whether the system had gone "too far" in that direction.
He also told Sky the UK should be "demanding the truth" on the secret terror flights saying: "There is a danger on rendition and on Guantanamo Bay that we look like passive partners."