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The program will be divided into 3 stages. In the first stage, it will help create learning, support and networking platform for a group of most promising civil society activists from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine by providing a series of training and experience-sharing activities. In the second stage, the leaders will serve as disseminators of best-practices in building disinformation resilience in their respective communities. This will be done by organizing local workshops or round-tables for NGOs in all five countries. In the final stage, a selected group of leaders will assist in the preparation of a curriculum on countering disinformation to be taught to civic activists throughout the Council of Europe School of Political Studies 50,000+ leaders network.

Please note that the structure of the program might change due to SARS-CoV-2 restrictions for the safety of the participants !

The organization will promote best practices among a new generation of political and social leaders in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Poland. It will create a learning and networking platform for 15 civic and political activists specialized in building response mechanisms and fostering resilience against disinformation, train 150 activists, and prepare a comprehensive curriculum for the network of 21 Council of Europe Schools of Political Studies.

15 project leaders will meet for the first time, in Strasbourg, France, at the World Forum for Democracy – the biggest conference organized annually by the Council of Europe, gathering over 2,000 politicians, diplomats, experts, journalists, civil society activists and others. In addition to attending the Forum, participants will conduct a disinformation training curriculum needs assessment among the Council of Europe Schools of Political Studies. The 15 project leaders will be divided into three groups, each group meeting two to four school directors to determine needs, gaps and priorities in the schools’ teaching in this field. After the sessions, all 15 project leaders will share their preliminary insights from these interviews, as well as reflections and feedback from the local workshops/roundtables. The accumulated knowledge and conclusions will form the basis for the preparation of a unified teaching curriculum.

Next will be a five-day workshop in Warsaw that brings together 15 participants, three each from Visegrad group. The meeting will be an opportunity for all project leaders to share their experience in the area of countering disinformation. The participants will discuss country-specific challenges and successful examples of building democratic resilience to “fake news” and propaganda. The workshop will also offer 15 hours of practical training on disinformation, which will include topics such as the impact of disinformation and media propaganda on society, politics and international relations; recognizing disinformation and disinformation campaigns; strategies for countering official propaganda; tools of manipulation: cultural differences in creating disinformation and censorship of the media; and disinformation in Central and Eastern Europe in the last decade in the context of political interests. Finally, participants will be provided with 10 hours of “Train The Trainers” modules, which will later facilitate the organization and realization of local workshops on disinformation in their respective communities. These will include planning, delivering and evaluating effective presentations; understanding adult learning theories and applying them in presentations; as well as various training tools with tips and tricks on how to gain the audience’s interest, trust and attention.

Equipped with the knowledge and skills provided by the Warsaw session, the 15 project leaders will organize a one-day workshop or roundtable on strategies for fostering resilience against disinformation, for a group of 10-15 NGO activists in their respective communities. The aim of the workshops will be to mobilize and inspire a new generation to actively oppose disinformation in their communities. The 15 leaders will also use the workshops as an opportunity to test ideas for best methods and approaches to talking about and teaching disinformation resilience. Finally, the organization will hold a two-day meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine to prepare a unified teaching curriculum for the Council of Europe Schools of Political Studies. Five project leaders, along with the project coordinator facilitator from the Ukrainian School, will refine the curriculum based on recommendations gathered from the school directors during the World Forum of Democracy and accumulated experience from conducting local workshops. The session will also serve as an opportunity to sum up participant experience, including results from the local workshops, and frame preliminary recommendations regarding possible continuation. The completed teaching curriculum will be sent to all 21 school directors, published on the Council of Europe website, and distributed among the schools’ alumni. It will also be presented, during a special session, at the 2021 Strasbourg Forum for Democracy.

The program will offer a selected group of 15 civic and political activists:

  • Knowledge of how to understand disinformation tools and methods;

  • Discuss country-specific challenges and successful examples of building democratic resilience to “fake news” and propaganda

  • An opportunity to establish a regional network of leaders, ready to take responsibility for promoting a more mature political culture in their respective countries.

  • Involvement in a discussion about the disinformation in Europe.

The program is a full scholarship initiative, with all fees covered such as:

The Strasbourg session (for 5 leaders chosen among 15 participants)

  • Accommodation (3 days)

  • Partial travel reimbursement

  • Tuition fee

  • Coffee breaks and lunches

  • Official graduation diploma issued by VSPS and the Council of Europe  presented upon graduation at the World Forum For Democracy in Strasbourg.

The Warsaw session (All participants)

  • Accommodation (5 days)

  • Travel reimbursement

  • Tuition fee

  • Workshop materials

  • Coffee breaks and lunches

The Kyiv Session (5 leaders chosen among 15 participants)

  •   Accommodation (2 days)

  •   Travel reimbursement

  •   Tuition fee

  • Coffee breaks and lunches

Recruitment will be conducted by the Council of Europe School of Political Studies extensive network of alumni with a profile in media, blogging and social media in order to recruit the best candidates and make sure to invest the efforts in the most promising young leaders interested and experienced in the area of building resilience to disinformation.

The recruitment criteria/application requirements will include:

– Citizenship of one of the following countries: Czech Republic, Hungary,
Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland
– Minimum 25 years of age
– Minimum 2 years of working experience and proven track history of
involvement and engagement within their community (i.e. involvement in
the NGO sector, civil society organizations)
– Proven track-record and/or interest in themes related to countering
disinformation
– English language competency: C1

Participants will need to submit an online application form including:

– CV
– Letter of motivation
– Essay

Candidates will be selected based on the information provided in their online application form, as well as provided in a phone/Skype interview which follows. Preference will be also given to Alumni of the Visegrad and Ukrainian School of Political Studies.