Rethinking the Democratic future: Lessons from the 20th Century

Project duration: July 2019 – December 2021

Witnesses and participants of the events of this transitional period are still active in the political, social and cultural life of the countries. A generation has grown up that no longer remembers the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union. Their knowledge and perception of relatively recent events is mainly based on the narratives and instrumentalised discourses of the older generation. The project aims to look at two areas that shape knowledge and understanding of events – public discourse and teaching about the transition – at three levels:

National (in the project partner countries);

Local (in each of the partner countries, involving different localities);

International (sharing knowledge and comparing the results of the analysis).

At the end of the project, it is hoped that the multidimensionality of the transition period, its impact on Eastern European societies, and the way in which history and civic education can contribute to the development of knowledge about the period will be clarified.

Project activities:

Public discourse analysis. The project partners will organise 1 event per year in their respective countries on the theme of transition. The events will try to capture the diversity of views, interpretations and experiences. They will then compare insights between countries to see how these insights can contribute to a better understanding of the specificities of the national context, and which ways are more effective in engaging people with different perspectives in the debate on transition.

Incorporating transition themes into history and civic education in the project countries – analysis. This strand focuses on the analysis of general education curricula and teaching materials to find out how transition is presented in general education, how it is taught and what good practices exist. The analysis will be carried out in each partner country and the results compared. This will be followed by a publication of recommendations on how to improve teaching tools. It will also look at good didactic practices in different countries.

Developments:

2020 10 28 10 video “Talking about the 90s”

Project coordinators:

DRA e.V., Germany

Sofia Platform, Bulgaria

Project partners:

Center for Citizenship Education, Poland

Congress of Cultural Activists/ Association of Active Citizens, Ukraine

Ivo Pilar Institute, Croatia

Open Lithuania foundation, Lithuania

Permer Centre for Civic Education and Human Rights, Russia

Funded by: German Federal Agency for Civic Education

30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of transition in Eastern Europe, witnesses of those events are still actively shaping the social, political and cultural life. Meanwhile, the young generation has no direct memory neither of communism nor of transition. Their knowledge and perceptions of this recent past is mostly based on stories of the older generations and on politicized and instrumentalized discourses.

The project „Transition dialogue. Dealing with change in democratic ways“, initiated by the Transition dialogue network, aims at taking a closer look at two of the areas that mostly contribute to the formation of knowledge and perceptions of that recent past – the public discourse and teaching of transition.

This quiz is a part of the project. We believe it will foster curiousity of young people and motivate them to learn about transition period.

The Open Society Foundations and partners will implement the project “United and Solidarity Management of the COVID Crisis”

The project is funded by the EU’s Europe for Citizens Programme

Project duration: May 2021 – October 2022

Coordinator:

CONTEMPORARY PLEVEN MEDIA FOUNDATION, Bulgaria

Partners:

ASSOCIACION DE INNOVACION FORMACIONY EMPLEO PARA EL DESARROLLO SOSTENIBLEES (AIFED), Spain

EDUCOMMART Meeting Point for Creative Education, Greece

AUTOKREACJA FOUNDATION, Poland

JUGEND-& KULTURPROJEKT EV, Germany

SPIRALIS, Z. S., Czech Republic

UDRUZENJE GRADJANA MINORITY & LOCAL MEDIA DEVELOPMENT CENTER, Serbia

OPEN LITHUANIA FOUNDATION, Lithuania

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the whole world. It has also reshaped the EU’s priority areas for action and made the fight against Covid-19 infection a top priority. This project is based on the idea that the application of European values, care, unity and solidarity is the most effective way to tackle the economic and health crisis caused by the Covid-19 infection.

The project aims to address the health, economic, educational, social care and cultural challenges posed by the pandemic.

Planned project outcomes:

– 10 discussions with experts, public figures and citizens from all participating countries.

– An online publication “Good Stories” with examples and good practices from all over Europe.

– An international conference summarising the experience of the project in the presence of politicians and MEPs.

The practices and lessons learned from the project will be summarised in a final project document addressed to the European Commission and MEPs.

The project activities will involve a wide range of participants – from different backgrounds, professions, educational backgrounds, ages, positive towards the EU and Eurosceptics.

Activities implemented by the Open Society Foundation:

1) Workshop “Contactless Learning: lessons (un)learned” (13 October 2021, Vilnius)

In this workshop, representatives of Vilnius school communities will discuss the educational problems highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g. insufficient development of learning competences, excessive homework, etc.) and identify possible solutions for school communities, educational support institutions or other stakeholders.

Participating schools will receive new ideas or advice on how to strengthen the development of competence in learning to learn or how to address the problem of homework workload/meaningfulness balance, while other participating organisations will identify the need for assistance/support for schools and thus be able to better target their further planning.

Teams of school communities are invited to attend, with a total of 50 participants, made up of school administrators, teachers, representatives of educational support professionals, and representatives of upper secondary students and their parents.

Filmed presentations by experts and practitioners, a summary of the participants’ discussions, complemented by interviews with experts, will be made public.

2) Online publication ” STORIES of GOODNESS ” (January – June 2022)

At least 5 Stories of Kindness will be collected – photos and stories of help and empathy, good practices brought by COVID in crisis education. We will especially look for examples of international solidarity – personal, human, “little” heroes unknown to the public. These stories will shed light on everyday quiet good deeds that are more contagious than a virus.

The 5 good Lithuanian stories will be included in the joint online publication “STORIES OF GOODNESS”, a collection of 40 stories from all project partners.

3) International conference in Bulgaria (September 2022)

Final forum of the project – international conference with politicians, MEPs, project partners, debaters, young people, teachers, public figures, journalists (130 participants). The meeting will summarise the content of the project, discuss the problems, current and potential solutions in the areas affected by the pandemic.

On the Future of Europe Conference

The region of Central and Eastern Europe faces challenges in getting across its constructive proposals for the future of Europe. Strong popular support for the EU and the vibrancy of civil society are overshadowed by political polarisation and increasing challenges to the democratic order in the region.

Civil society faces difficulty to bring out a more positive and inclusive voice that connects the needs of citizens, including those who reject or put into question the EU with achievements and future directions of European integration.

Together with a strong group of partners across the EU, including the Bratislava Policy Institute (Slovakia), Euro Créative (France), European Forum Alpbach (Austria), Fondazione Di Vagno (Italy), Forum2000 (Czechia), Open Lithuania Foundation (Lithuania) and initiator of the project  — Visegrad Insight — plan to facilitate the constructive input of civil society from Central and Eastern Europe in the upcoming debate about a long-term vision for the future of Europe. It seeks to overcome an image of recalcitrance and limited input associated with the region, by elaborating on constructive proposals through extensive workshops, consultations and scenario-building for the future of Europe from the perspective of civil society stakeholders. By means of extensive discussions and broad inquiry, it gives voice to actors that may not be heard through conventional and state-led channels of consultation.

During the course of the project, multifarious groups of civil society stakeholders — including representatives from younger generations and with a diverse set of backgrounds — will be invited to discuss key trends and strategic directions for the European project with particular attention placed on civil society organisations in enhancing activities and democratic legitimacy of EU institutions and its decision-making process. The output will be disseminated among civil society actors, including youth organisations and put forward to MEPs from Central and Eastern Europe as a means to raise exposure to the varied voices from the region.

Project is co-funded by the EU.

Related publications:

Past events:

Scenario building workshop No. 1
During Lector in Fabula Festival, Conversano, Italy
23-24 September 2021

This workshop has gathered almost 30 participants from all over the EU (List of Participants) and has been the first step in the process of developing, narrating, analysing and backcasting alternative futures for the Conference on the Future of Europe.  The participants have discussed the drivers and triggers shaping the future of the region, evaluated them by probability, impact as well as importance from the CEE perspective. In three teams we debated the “most impactful and uncertain” outliers in the drivers and begun narrating possible scenarios.

The project “Returns” is dedicated to the promotion of critical thinking and civic participation of the young people at the local level.

Based on this project, we continue to gather young people into the network of young supporters of the open society idea, expanding their opportunities to engage and participate in civil society at the national and European level.

At the same time, the network of youth mentors is expanded and supported, so that young people have support and the opportunity to consult enabling them to learn, strengthen self-confidence and their abilities, becoming active and responsible members of society.

Aims:

  • We will increase young people’s critical thinking and the ability to express their positions in public, providing them with favorable conditions for acquiring new knowledge and abilities to act.
  • We will enable young people to act at the municipal level and solve local problems.
  • We will take a closer look at the reasons for youth participation/non-participation in civic activities in a specific municipality.
  • We will bring together a new and motivated generation of young people who will nurture EU values.

Target audience: young people of the municipalities of the town of Alytus, Kėdainiai district and Plungė district.

Planned activities: cycles of educational, theoretical, and practical classes, shadowing, summer intellectual thought camp, talks with outstanding scientists, academics, collaborative research, etc.

Tools for participation: creation of attractive and relevant activities, preparation of joint products, creation of relations between institutions, young people and NGOs, strengthening of knowledge and abilities, and formation of an environment favorable to youth participation (informal spaces, informal quality conversations, for instance, “peer to a peer” activities).

Stages of “Returns”:

Activity 1. Informal youth group organization (5 young people) and capacity building.

Activity 2. Open Lithuania Fund and informal youth group meetings with 3 representatives of Alytus, Kėdainiai and Plungė municipal administrations, and formation of teams of young people (40 participants)

Activity 3. One day meetings. Clarification of issues relevant to young people in Alytus, Kėdainiai and Plungė municipalities, preparation and implementation of their strategic plans. (75 young people)

Activities 4 – 6. Public events in the municipalities of Alytus, Kėdainiai and Plungė (150 young people).

Activity 7. Final evaluation event in Vilnius (70 young people).

Activity 8. Mentoring program. A team of 4-5 mentors is invited to help young people with the implementation and content of the project.

Expected impact:

  • Young people understand the operating principles of local self-government, can clarify public expectations, and analyze decisions made by local politicians and formulate their own proposals.
  • They present proposals to local politicians and the public for more effective representation of the interests of the population and especially the youth.
  • They participate in public debates and publicly discuss issues that concern them.
  • They prepare an analysis of the reasons and topicalities of youth participation/non-participation in civic activities in specific municipalities.
  • They acquire or strengthen the competence of learning, critical thinking skills, working with groups of young people (together with the skills of knowing, analyzing, and planning their needs), broadening the practical skills of using non-formal youth education tools and methods.
  • They strengthen cooperation competence, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, expand knowledge about the role and activities of public authorities.
  • They gain the opportunity to delve deeper into the fundamental values of the EU, better understand the influence of values on everyday decisions, learn to look at the environment and phenomena from different perspectives (the principle of multi-faceted view).
  • Both new or strengthened practical skills and acquired competences help young people involved in the project to understand the importance of active participation and encourage them to find ways to get involved in youth-related decision-making at the local level.

The project is financed by: