The 2017 edition of the Visegrad School of Political Studies Meets Russia was titled “Empowering Civil Society” and aimed at supporting civil society, combating stereotypes and strengthening ties between young social and political leaders from Europe and Russia. Through practical workshops, discussions and simulations, the participants were equipped with a tool kit necessary for their everyday work in civil society organizations or media outlets. The sessions were organized by the European Academy of Diplomacy in cooperation with our Russian partners.
In 2017, the VSPS Meets Russia initiative combined 5 elements:
March Session (20 – 24 March)
As part of the VSPS Meets Russia initiative, 5 participants from Arkhangelsk, Moscow, Novosibirsk and Voronezh were invited to join the Spring School of Diplomatic Skills – week-long soft skills workshops organized by the European Academy of Diplomacy.
The program was held on 20 – 24 March, 2017. It was focused on communication and included workshops such as: Public Speaking, Bilateral Negotiations, Diplomatic Protocol and Etiquette, Effective Meetings, Written Communication, Public Diplomacy, Social Media Campaigns, Leadership and Team Management. Apart from the Russian participants, the program gathered participants from Afghanistan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The multicultural environment contributed to the depth of discussion and presentation of various points of view. In general, the participants benefited from the program by having a chance to practice skills such as public speaking in a safe, encouraging environment.
June Session (5 – 9 June)
The June Session of the VSPS Meets Russia initiative, titled „Empowering Civil Society”, was designed for activists and NGO representatives. It aimed at supporting civil society, combating stereotypes and strengthening ties between young social and political leaders from Europe and Russia. Through practical workshops, discussions and simulations, the participants were equipped with a tool kit necessary for their everyday work in civil society organizations. The topics discussed were: project management, communication and PR for civil society organizations, social media campaigns, public speaking, leadership and team management and the development of civil society in the Visegrad countries.
The group included 8 Russian participants from Moscow, St Petersburg, and Barnaul, as well as Hungarians and Poles. They represented organizations dealing with issues such as: transparency and corruption, election observation, violations in healthcare system, civic education, legal assistance for refugees, cultural heritage protection and others. The diversity of the group allowed for a multifaceted discussion with diverse points of view and facilitated the creation of a network, which in the future can result in joint initiatives.
July Session (3 – 7 July)
On 3 – 7 July 2017, as part of the VSPS Meets Russia initiative, 3 participants from Russia attended the Diplomatic Skills Masterclass organized by the European Academy of Diplomacy.
The Diplomatic Skills Masterclass is designed for young and mid-career professionals from the international business, public administration and third sector. The course builds on previously acquired soft skills and presents an expanded set of topics that are designed to further prepare participants for the challenges and rigors of diplomacy, international business and working in multinational organizations in the 21st century.
During every edition, at least 12 countries are represented in a group of 20 participants. The diversity of backgrounds and nationalities ensures not only a perfect networking opportunity, but also a multifaceted perspective on all the issues covered during the program.
September Session (20 – 24 September)
VSPS Meets Russia September Session was designed for journalists and media representatives from Visegrad countries and Russia. The aim of the program was to provide the participants with knowledge and skills empowering them to act as both government watchdogs and initiators of positive social change. It encouraged them to promote reliable, fact-based journalism, focused on combating fake news and different types of censorship or propaganda.
The program of VSPS Meets Russia September Session consisted of two parts:
1. 20 – 24 September, Warsaw
During more than 30 hours of intense workshops, the participants will cover topics such as Investigative Journalism, Information Security, Propaganda and Fake News, Role of Media in Supporting Civil Society, Social Media Campaigns, Public Diplomacy.
2. 25 – 29 September, Raszyn – Falenty
The participants attended the conference “Sapere Aude: Freedom, democracy and globalization.” organized by the Association of Schools of Political Studies in cooperation with the VSPS. The conference gathered over 60 young European leaders for a series of workshops, lectures and discussions on the various aspects of the political, social and economic developments in Europe and beyond. The program focused on the fundamentals of democracy and civic engagement in the context of current national and international affairs.