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Safeguarding Democracy: Empowering Students Against Disinformation Ahead of 2024 EU Elections

Nikoleta Nemečkayová Nikoleta Nemečkayová / Ed. 28. 12. 2023
Safeguarding Democracy: Empowering Students Against Disinformation Ahead of 2024 EU Elections

As the European Parliamentary elections approach, societies in individual EU member states must prepare for a surge of information manipulations aiming to sway their votes. This manipulation may come from foreign malign actors, local proxies, or even the candidates and their supporters, who might exploit divisive issues and current crises for their own benefit. To counter this and enhance the vigilance and resilience of Czech, Polish, and Slovak societies, AMO and its partners - including Charles University, the Student Section of the International Political Science Institute at Masaryk University (IIPS), the EAST Centre, and the Adapt Institute - conducted a series of workshops for university students throughout 2023.

The workshops are a part of the project “Strengthening the Resilience of Czech, Slovak, and Polish Societies Prior to the 2024 European Parliament Elections” supported by The European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

Overall, 15 workshops took place during the spring and autumn semesters. In the Czech Republic, three were held at Masaryk University in Brno, two at Charles University in Prague, and one at the Summer School of Journalism in Havlíčkuv Brod. In Slovakia, four sessions occurred, including two at Comenius University in Bratislava and two at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice. Finally, in Poland, six workshops were organized: four at Warsaw University and two at Campus Polska in Olsztyn. In total, these workshops welcomed 286 unique attendees, mainly students majoring in International Relations, European Studies, Political Science, Journalism, and Media Studies.

The workshops focused on disinformation, foreign malign influence, hybrid threats, and strategic communication, with a special emphasis on their impact on democratic processes such as elections. This was particularly relevant given the timing of the autumn Slovak and Polish parliamentary elections and the upcoming European Parliamentary elections. The discussions aimed to bolster the participants’ resilience against real-life manipulations they might encounter during these elections.

To enhance the learning experience, at least half of the workshops were co-facilitated by partners from other project countries, fostering a rich exchange of insights, lessons learned, and best practices. Participants received background materials on the discussed topics to provide them with an overview.

Funded by the European Union. The views and opinions expressed represent the views and opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible.


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