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The program is addressed to 15 political and social leaders interested in building resilience against disinformation in Central and Eastern Europe. During two in-person sessions (Warsaw, Kyiv), one online session (World Forum for Democracy), and 15 local workshops (conducted by each participant in his/her local community), the participants will discuss country-specific challenges and successful examples of building democratic resilience to “fake news” and propaganda.

The main objective of the program is to build resilience against disinformation in Central and Eastern Europe. During all meetings and workshops, 15 political and social leaders in the Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Poland will discuss country-specific challenges and successful examples of building democratic resilience to “fake news” and propaganda. The program will also offer 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.

The organization will promote best practices among a new generation of activists from V4 countries and Ukraine. It will create a learning and networking platform for participants specialized in building response mechanisms and fostering resilience against disinformation and train 150 activists.

The program will be divided into 3 stages.
Stage 1. (November 2020 – February/March 2021)
it will help create a learning, support, and networking platform for a group by providing a series of training and experience-sharing activities.
Stage 2. (March – June 2021)
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.
Stage 3. (June/July 2021)
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.

15 project leaders will meet for the first time (online), in Strasbourg, France, at the World Forum for Democracy (16-18 November 2020) – conference organized annually by the Council of Europe, gathering politicians, diplomats, experts, journalists, civil society activists, and others. 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, there will be a five-day workshop in Warsaw, Poland (February/March 2021) that brings the 15 participants together, three from each Visegrad country and Ukraine. 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. 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 (June/July 2021) to prepare a unified teaching curriculum for the Council of Europe Schools of Political Studies. 5 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 participants’ experience, including the results of local workshops, and to frame preliminary recommendations regarding possible continuation. The complete teaching curriculum will be sent to all 21 school directors, published on the Council of Europe website, and distributed among the schools’ alumni.

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

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

  • Knowledge of how to understand disinformation tools and methods;

  • Discussions on 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 disinformation in Europe.

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

The Strasbourg session (online) (16-18 November 2020)

  • 3 days of the online courses (webinar)

  • 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 (February/March 2021)

  • Accommodation (5 days)

  • Travel reimbursement

  • Tuition fee

  • Workshop materials

  • Coffee breaks and lunches

The Kyiv Session (5 leaders chosen among 15 participants) (June/July 2021)

  • Accommodation (2 days)

  • Travel reimbursement

  • Tuition fee

  • Coffee breaks and lunches

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

The admission criteria/application requirements will include:

  • Citizen or permanent resident of one of the following countries: Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, 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 competence: C1+

Participants will need to submit an online application form including:

  • CV

  • Letter of motivation

  • Essay

The program is a full scholarship initiative.

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

APPLY UNTIL 19TH of OCTOBER

For specific inquiries, please contact info@visegradschool.org