IAF Seminars 2020

IAF Seminars 2020
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

Please find here the overview about all IAF seminars we offer in 2020.

If you are interested in participating or want more information please contact -before the indicated closing date- the Friedrich Naumann Foundation representative in your country who will kindly give you more details about taking part in our seminars! 

► FNF Contact Data Worldwide

As our program is designed to support our projects abroad, the projects identify and suggest participants for our seminars. Hence we can not offer the possibility to register for our programs directly.

Liberalisms vs. Populism – How can Liberals win?, 26.01. – 07.02.2020

TOPIC

Populists seem to be on the rise around the world and their opponents from different political camps seem to have difficulties to find the right antidote to fight that new (?) political force. Some place their bet on facts to fight lies, others on copying some of the populist features or trying to tackle what is perceived as the underlying causes that play into the hands of populists. But what is populism and why is it so dangerous for liberal open societies? What do populists have in common? This seminar is meant to analyse populism with regard to various criteria that are relevant to get a deeper understanding of its nature and, based on the results, to find ways and measures of how liberals could deal with this political enemy.

OBJECTIVES

The seminar aims to fulfill the following objectives:

  • to establish a thorough theoretical understanding of liberalism and of populism
  • to develop tools and senses that help to detect populism
  • to develop strategies and measures to counter populists
  • to develop guidelines and strategies that can be disseminated in the respective organizations/parties

    

METHODOLOGY

Besides input session from the facilitators and experts, the seminar will aim at best-practice sharing and active exchange between participants. In order to enhance the learning experience and to emphasize the practical dimension of the workshop, the seminar will rely on non-formal education methods, such as simulations, case studies, and role plays. 

TARGET GROUP

The seminar mainly aims at liberal thinkers and political strategists from political parties, think tanks and NGOs who are currently facing populist forces in their respective countries. 
 

 

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LANGUAGES
English, Arabic, Russian

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

IAF Innovation Lab, 16.02. – 23.02.2020

TOPIC

Innovation has become a buzzword of our time, with the Internet empowering individuals like never before to have more information and choice, and therefore to make better-informed decisions about the organisations, services and products they would like to support. 

These choices are often strongly linked to the organisation’s ability to offer something innovative or even disruptive, that is to say to adapt to the real needs of their customers, to improve the experience of, and interaction with the customers, and to create value in a fast-paced and rapidly changing world. 

‘Innovate or die’ applies as much to the corporate sector as it does to political or not-for-profit organisations. Often, it is the inability to find new ways to connect with audiences, to respond to the latest trends and to use innovative methods and technologies, which stand in the way of success, or even survival.

SUBJECTS

The Innovation Lab will explore the concept of innovation on a number of levels, ranging from the individual to the organisation. We will ask what it takes for an individual to be innovative and to drive change through their own way of being. We will explore how individual innovation translates into the context of a team or organisation and work to strengthen skills to manage a process of change, discomfort and disruption in a team or organisation with the support of stakeholders. We will apply these methods practically throughout the course of the seminar in a real-life case study. 

Participants will hear from experts working in the field of innovation, and will also have the opportunity to see an actual example of an organisation that has succeeded in entrenching a number of innovative practices and thereby creating an internal culture of constant innovation.
    

METHODOLOGY

This seminar will draw on a number of participatory and cutting-edge methodologies, including:

  • Exploring the concept of innovation in group discussions;
  • Practicing an innovative mind-set in guided exercises;
  • Identifying suitable organisational structures for innovation in working groups;
  • Working with the principles and methodology of Design Thinking;
  • Sharing innovations through Pecha Kucha presentations;
  • Collaborating in a real-life idea development session;
  • Engaging and reflecting during a series of pair conversations;
  • Learning from interesting and innovative practices and experts.

TARGET GROUP

This seminar is best suited to individuals in leadership positions in FNF partner organisations who work with innovation, or who are interested in bringing more innovation to their organisation. This seminar is also ideal for FNF project directors or managers in project offices with a knack for innovative solutions or methods. 

Ideally, participants have several years of working experience, a degree of decision-making authority in their organisations, and can look back to concrete examples of success or failure during their experience of implementing innovation in their teams and organisations.
 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Strengthening NGOs – Strategy, Management and Fundraising, 08.03. – 20.03.2020

TOPIC

Liberal NGOs today are in the midst of rapid changes in the world — a young millennial population with a different DNA than their predecessors, greater political instability, the ever-changing donor interests, increased competition for eye balls across social media and the general rapid pace of change that is required of organisations in order to survive in a volatile and uncertain world. Organisations need to differentiate and have a unique offer to the world, and nurture the ability to constantly innovate in order to achieve more with less.  

At the heart of a these unique and innovative NGOs and Think Tanks are powerful teams with a shared purpose, a compelling vision for the future and a clear strategy for delivery. 

During the seminar ‘Strengthening NGOs’, we will take a deep dive into what it takes to set up organisations of this kind. Participants will be supported to consider different ways through which they can increase the capacity, sustainability and impact of their organisations, be invited to reflect on their organisation’s purpose and vision, and explore concepts of leadership and management. Taking the time to work with this process regularly enables NGOs and Think Tanks to become internally and externally aligned strategy-focused organisations.  

During the course of the seminar, participants will continuously be engaged in two streams of learning:

  1. A focus on the skills and knowledge required to build and grow robust, responsive and relevant NGOs and Think Tanks in their environments, with a specific emphasis on fundraising and managerial strategies;
  2. A focus on themselves, their own self-awareness, leadership and role in the organisation and team.

As a result, the seminar will offer a space in which participants will be asked to reflect on and respond to three key spheres in order to achieve clarity and alignment.

STRATEGY – where participants will:

  • Reconnect with and refine their organisation’s vision, purpose and core values, and further refine its offer to the world;
  • Revisit their organisation’s story so far and capture key learnings about themselves and the environment they work in; and,
  • Envisage the concrete short term and long term goals they would like to achieve in relation to the issues, target groups and geographies they aim to impact.

MANAGEMENT – where participants will:

  • Reflect on their own leadership skills, self awareness and way of being as a powerful tool through which to effect change;
  • Review their structure and management practices to become more efficient and less dependent on one or a few leaders; 
  • Consider new ways of organising themselves more strategically in terms of work division and coordination, working with staff who are more supportive in bringing their goals to life and aligned with their core values. 

FUNDRAISING – where participants will:

  • Review their fundraising strategy along all stages of the fundraising cycle to enable them to diversify their donor base and reduce dependence on a few donors; 
  • Become more confident in making the ask that aligns with their own vision, goals and values; 
  • Learn how, and share ways through which, external role-players can be engaged in order to build powerful relationships, access funds and resources with which to bring about change and deliver results.
     

METHODOLOGY

This seminar will draw richly on creative and innovative facilitation methodologies, not only to support the learning of participants during the seminar, but also to provide participants with processes and ways through which they can support organisational learning and planning in their own organisations.  Participants will get the opportunity to share useful practices, ideas and challenges, learn from each other and external experts, thereby gaining insights into NGOs and NGO management from around the world.

To make the experience as productive as possible and create readiness for the program, participants will be requested to share their current organisational strategy, management practices and fundraising strategy ahead of the seminar’s commencement. 

 

TARGET GROUP

This seminar is ideally suited for representatives of liberal NGOs - such as economic Think Tanks, Human Rights Defenders etc. - who work in close cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in their respective countries or regions. 

Potential participants should ideally hold a leadership or management position in their organisation, and have the ability to determine or impact on the strategic direction of their organisation.

 

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LANGUAGES
English, Arabic, Russian

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Communication to counter Disinformation/Populism, 29.03. – 05.04.2020

++ Detailed abstract to follow. ++

 

TARGET GROUP

Liberal politicians and spokespersons from political parties, liberal movements and NGOs, journalists

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LANGUAGES
English, Spanish, French

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Leadership for Young Leaders, 19.04. – 01.05.2020

++ Detailed abstract to follow. ++

 

TARGET GROUP

Young leaders from liberal parties and NGOs

 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Strengthening Political Youth Organisations, 10.05. – 22.05.2020

++ Detailed abstract to follow. ++

All participants invited to the event are required to participate in a preparatory online part (time required: approx. 2 hours per week) - dates & details to follow.

 

 

TARGET GROUP

Activists of political youth organizations from the age of 18 onwards

 

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LANGUAGES
English, Spanish

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Campaigning: Strategy and Tools, 07.06. – 14.06.2020

TOPIC

 

Campaigning is a core function of any political party. It is the way through which parties connect with voters to garner enough support to get into government, and to ultimately implement its vision for a better future. Often the lack of a proper campaign structure and operation stands in the way of a party being able to turn its vision into votes.
 
With the rise of the internet, big data and social media, traditional campaign methods have undergone radical change making it easier to communicate instantly with millions of potential voters. And yet, many liberal political parties across the world struggle to connect with voters in a world that is more connected than ever before. Furthermore, the prevalence of right-wing parties and increased populism across the political spectrum begs the question, how are progressive and liberal parties to respond to this change in a way that makes the world freer and respects the interest of the individual.

 

SUBJECTS

In the context of rising populism and questions about the ethical use of voter information, we will explore what it means to be liberal and progressive in this political environment.  We will interrogate what populism is and the role it has played in recent years, particularly in the US elections and the Brexit referendum.
 
We will examine and share best practices on the core campaign mechanics and roles including communications, fundraising, political outreach, field organisation & activity, research & polling, as well as policy offer. The various phases of a successful campaign will be analysed to understand a systematic approach to persuasion and mobilisation activities that flow from identifying your target market, then engaging with them and finally turning out their vote on election day. We will also explore various exciting campaign metrics and tech tools that enable teams to measure progress throughout the duration of a campaign and make better informed decisions.
 
Finally, we will also unpack the internal organisational culture of a campaign. How do we foster a culture of proactive innovation and agility, instead of reactive panic and frantic decision-making? How do we bring in a developmental approach that builds trust and values the well-being of team members?  How do we build a campaign that serves the immediate needs while building a platform for future campaigns?
 

METHODOLOGY

This seminar will draw on a number of participatory and experiential methodologies that seek to draw out the experience of its participants and encourage learning in a creative, challenging and innovative way.
 
Participants will experience:

  • taking part in discussions on trending topics in the field of ideology;
  • identifying key campaign functions and roles in a group setting;
  • taking part in debates on ethical practices in campaigning;
  • conceptualising campaign elements in a simulated pressured environment;
  • working on real-life scenarios and testing it out with stakeholders;
  • presenting innovative ideas and plans for campaign techniques;
  • engaging and reflecting during pair conversations; and
  • learning from interesting and innovative practices and experts across the world.

 

TARGET GROUP

This seminar is best suited to individuals in political parties who have a deep, practical interest in the mechanics of campaigning and who are interested in best-practice sharing and innovating with fellow campaigners from across the world on how to connect with voters.
 
Typically, participants are more senior members of their campaign teams with some level of control of at least one component of a campaign in their home country. Participants are interested in becoming a campaign manager (or have previously managed campaigns) with the ability and determination to implement in their organisations what they have learnt. Given this, participants are ideally not currently working on an intensive campaign with an election day in the first 6 months of 2020, as this would impact on their ability to be fully present for this seminar or to implement their learnings.
 

 

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LANGUAGES
English, Russian

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Promoting Entrepreneurship and Open Markets, 28.06. – 10.07.2020

TOPIC

The 12-day workshop at the International Academy for Leadership in Gummersbach begins with an overview of common criticisms, much in fashion again, of free markets and their underlying foundation, economic freedom. A free market order is often termed “capitalism” by its critics, a term that is intentionally used in its pejorative sense. The criticism is extended to its proponents and those who successfully do business in a free market environment, the capitalists. Liberals prefer the term entrepreneur. Are the criticisms valid, are they overdone or are they misleading. How should liberals deal with them?

This will be followed by a systematic overview of how liberals see markets, their features (including the way they deal with scarcity and the “profit motive” as a driving force) and the people who do business in and exploit market forces. Why should one try to open markets? Do they work well and are they better than their alternatives? Should everything, including important utilities be private and market-oriented?  Are markets best left unregulated or should they be regulated? If they are to be regulated, how much, by whom and to what purpose? 

The next section of the workshop will deal with the en-vironment that markets and entrepreneurs require in order to function in an optimum manner, i.e., as liberals would like to see.

Measures that might help to open and develop markets will be explored, with a focus on good governance, free trade, privatization and deregulation. The same will be done with respect to entrepreneurship. Special questions here will be how to develop an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to take risks. What kinds of incentives encourage entrepreneurship? Are subsidies for start-ups a good or a bad idea? We will particularly discuss the environment needed for start-up ecosystems to thrive and the role the policy-maker can play in these.

The final sessions, the last two days, consist of two parts: part one will be a simulation based on a real case around future skills. Participants will discuss how policy-makers can ensure that market participants have the skills to thrive in any market. Finally, in the  second part, also a summary session, participants will be asked to list and briefly describe and comment upon, important features of liberal policies designed to open markets and promote entrepreneurship – taking into account and differentiating according to the concrete conditions existing in the countries represented.

THE EXCURSIONS

One half-day and a 3-day excursion are an integral part of the workshop and will incorporate German case studies on the topic of entrepreneurship:
 

  • the German liberal party, the FDP, and its policies in the business sector 
  • the difficulties of starting a business in a highly regulated economy (the example of Germany)
  • entrepreneurs and the German tax regime 
  • the problems entrepreneurs face when trying to abide by laws and regulations originating in the European Union
  • government sponsored start-up initiatives, their problems and potential
  • training for the business environment: lessons from a) academic business schools and b) vocational training

    
TARGET GROUP

The participants to be invited are young leaders in positions of responsibility from political parties, civic initiatives, the media and the civil administration. They consider themselves to be liberal and are expected to have a basic knowledge of what liberalism is and, in particular of its values and objectives. The seminar is designed not as a basic introduction to the theory and practice of free markets, but as an opportunity to reflect and exchange views on policy: how to go about opening markets and promoting entrepreneurship.  Selected participants will be asked to prepare a short presentation either on a) a problem in their respective home countries relevant to the subject of the workshop or b) an example of how business-friendly environments can be created

 

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LANGUAGES
English, (French*)

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

 

* If French interpretation service can be offered will be decided by mid of 2020.

The Power of Networks: How to Build and Use Them!, 19.07. – 26.07.2020

TOPIC

The implementation of our political ideas always depends on the support of others. In the political process, we often tend to focus on the support from voters; however, there is much more to it. Politicians and activists in civil society will only be able to realize their ideas once they have political allies, financial supporters, intellectual advisors, and “people-who-know-people.” This seminar will explore the multiple layer of social change through the lens of networks—and cover the topic from a theoretical as well as practical (i.e. how to build and use those networks) perspective. Moreover, as networking is a highly individualized concept that focuses on the individual contact point, we will discuss the tensions and tradeoffs that organizations have to make between personal networks and institutional memory.

OBJECTIVES

The seminar aims to fulfill the following objectives:

  • to establish a thorough theoretical understanding of the role of networks in social change
  • to carve out the (pre)conditions of a successful network
  • to share from best-practices (and worst-practices) in building and maintaining networks particularly in the social media age.
  • to explore case studies and think of strategic approaches to networking
  • to acquire the necessary tools and skills to build and maintain political/civic networks
  • to exchange relevant tools and skills between participants
  • to critically reflect on the tensions between personal and organizational aspects of networks
  • to develop guidelines that can be disseminated in the respective organizations/parties    

METHODOLOGY

Besides input session from the facilitators and experts, the seminar will aim at best-practice sharing and active exchange between participants. In order to enhance the learning experience and to emphasize the practical dimension of the workshop, the seminar will rely on non-formal education methods, such as simulations, case studies, and role plays. Moreover, we will use Skills Lab and Open Spaces to explore the available capacities and capabilities of participants.

 

TARGET GROUP

The seminar mainly aims at the senior to mid-level leaders of political parties, political activists as well as representatives of civil society organizations including NGOs and CBOs cascading from grassroots to policy level. Ideally, participants have first-hand experiences in developing networks for their organizations or themselves. The range of participants can (and should) include individuals that want to start to build a network/organization to individuals that have already established their networks and are looking for ways to expand and strategically expand their personal networks. Program officers from FNF are very much part of the target group and welcome. The overall number of participants will be 30.

 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Moderation: Facilitation and Program Design, 16.08. – 28.08.2020

TOPIC

The Moderation and Facilitation seminar is aimed at supporting members of NGO’s, Political Parties, Think Tanks and other organisations who are responsible for the facilitation, planning and implementation of training and development sessions and events.
    
In this seminar participants will

  • Begin by understanding that audience participation and engagement depends on the “way of being” of a facilitator;
  • Consider refreshed ways to create a liberal environment in training sessions and events, where an audience is able to participate fully and think well for themselves;
  • Deepen their knowledge of, and ability to, apply innovative, relevant and engaging facilitation methodologies leading to interactive events and learning sessions;
  • Consider the various roles and responsibilities at these sessions and events, and think about how to maximise the cooperation between members of an organising team; 
  • Deepen their understanding of the various elements of organising and implementing successful and meaningful seminars, workshops or events, including investigating the needs of the audience; 

and,

  • Share best practice and experiences with each other about learnings, successes, ideas and challenges in their organisations and regions, as well as receive input from experts in the field. 
     

OBJECTIVES

The seminar will continuously draw on two streams of learning:
On the one hand, participants will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of programme development in order to be more successful at organising, scripting, designing and implementing innovative, relevant and meaningful sessions and events in their organisations. 

On the other hand, the seminar will take an individual skills and personal development approach with the second learning stream considering the unique development needs and ways of being of each participant.

This means that participants will be encouraged to consider their own individual strengths and needs as a facilitator, deepening their skills through practical exercises, feedback and reflection.

    
SEMINAR FOCUS

The seminar is best suited to individuals who have some level of experience in facilitation, training or event planning, and who want to continue deepening their skills and knowledge of facilitating events. Participants will continuously learn through doing, participating in group work, pair conversations, and role-play focused on improving their understanding of themselves as facilitators. 

The seminar will further explore ways to effectively deal with challenging or difficult scenarios, such as conflict resolution, managing moods and energy levels, managing the needs of different role players and encouraging interactivity, particularly at events and in large groups. 

Participants will be encouraged to consider the social, often non-political, trends impacting on training and development sessions, and events.

The entire seminar is conducted as an expression of what it seeks to teach.  The facilitators of the session will seek to BE the very principles they are communicating. The seminar is therefore deeply experiential and requires committed participation on the part of the delegates.

TARGET GROUP

This seminar is aimed at public representatives, staff members or members of liberal NGOs, Political Parties and Think Tanks who are actively involved with, or responsible for the design, planning and implementation of training and development sessions, or events. 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Freedom of the Press, 20.09. – 02.10.2020

++ Detailed abstract to follow. ++

 

TARGET GROUP

 

Liberal politicians and policy makers, journalists, social media content producers, bloggers, vloggers

 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Safeguarding Freedom in the Digital World, 11.10. – 23.10.2020

Seminar with a qualifying online phase: July/August 2020, approx. 3 weeks - exacty dates & details to follow

Those interested in taking part will be invited to participate in an online event (July/August, approx. 3 weeks - exact dates & details to follow) designed to select participants for the workshop in Germany. The best 24 participants from the Online Phase will be invited to the seminar in Gummersbach. 

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CONTENT

Digitalisation has opened up a world of opportunity. Today we have access to vast amounts of information, inconceivable 20 years ago. The cost of communication with others has plummeted and is now marginal. The majority of the world’s population has cheap access to the means of communication, hardware, software and the associated services. As far as freedom of expression is concerned, this no longer tends to be the privilege of professionals. Other rights have become easier to enjoy because of digital media: the right to freedom of assembly, the right to education, the ability to enforce and protect one’s right to property more effectively, the right to freedom of belief.

But digitalisation and the way it has been implemented also pose serious challenges to freedom as we know it. They are in the news. They include attempts by various governments to control or cordon off the internet, efforts to abolish the principle of net neutrality, the use of social media and associated technologies for hybrid warfare, an increasing readiness to engage in “fake news” and exploiting susceptibilities in this regard, a compartmentalisation of news driven by user preferences, surveillance of internet use, internet security, and restrictions imposed by dysfunctional rules on copyright, to mention only a few.

Other questions we will tackle are:
Should there be censorship of the internet (in order to tackle pornography and extreme violence, for instance), is it possible to censor the internet and, if yes, how would this be done and what would the effect be? 
Will traditional media die because of the internet and does it matter if they do? Or can they reinvent themselves? What would they need to do differently?
How important are the principles of rule of law so dear to liberalism in a digitalised world? Is it possible to implement them in a meaningful way (eg, how do we deal with cases of blanket surveillance without individual warrants)?
Do we need new rights in a digitalised world, like a “right to be forgotten?”

How should the internet be policed? Do we require some form of legal status and protection for whistleblowers, given the enormous volume of internet traffic?
How important is the principle of non-anonymity for a proper and transparent functioning of the internet and the media  associated with it? What do we do with the phenomenon of automated bots?
How do we deal with the social media-based interference in political and electoral processes through foreign powers attempting to tilt results?
How do we train citizens to use internet-based media critically and responsibly in the interests of promoting freedom?
There are further overarching issues from a liberal point of view that apply to all forms of communication, digitalised or not, such as:
Are there any legitimate reasons for limiting freedom of speech (hate speech, blasphemy, incitement to violence, for instance)?
What would a sensible balance between security and privacy consist of?
How can we ensure the kind of tolerance and civility that we need in order to protect the freedoms modern means of communication allow?

OBJECTIVES

A lack of awareness amongst non-experts as to the seriousness of these challenges is a serious deficit we have to face. One of the reasons we are organising this workshop is to introduce young liberal politicians, policy makers and others to them, their urgency, and to encourage the finding of appropriate and implementable solutions that do not contradict liberal principles and values.

TARGET GROUP

Liberal politicians and policy makers, social media content producers and bloggers, journalists providing online content for various internet-based media, liberal internet and security experts, educationalists.

Those interested in taking part will be invited to participate in an online event (July/August, approx. 3 weeks - exact dates & details to follow) designed to select participants for the workshop in Germany. The best 24 participants from the Online Phase will be invited to the seminar in Gummersbach. 
 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Before 6 July 2020. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Political Leadership – Female Edition, 08.11. – 15.11.2020

++ Detailed abstract to follow. ++

 

TARGET GROUP

Female leaders in liberal political parties and organizations

 

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LANGUAGES
English, Spanish, French

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00

Foundations of Open Societies: Individual Self-determination and Tolerance, 29.11. – 11.12.2020

The threats to open societies as envisaged by liberals are manifold: disillusionment with politics, hi-tech used for control and repression, the re-emergence of nationalism and fundamentalism of different kinds, the desire to be in control and the fear of losing power on the part of traditional and new authoritarian elites. How can this be countered, how can liberal achievements be preserved, and how can we again start to extend the boundaries of an open society?

 

TOPIC

An open society, a term popularised by the liberal philosopher Karl Popper, has always been an integral part of the liberal vision of how things should be. The individual and the freedom – the civil liberties and political rights – every individual enjoys are at its centre. We trust in the abilities of individuals – which is a reason why we support democracy. Moreover, we expect individuals to be active and vocal in ordering their affairs and promoting their interests. “Use the courage of your convictions”, to paraphrase Immanuel Kant, is perhaps the most appropriate motto liberals can use in this respect. A closed so- ciety, preferred by reactionary or revolutionary elites, will not tolerate any of the features that characterise this vision.

Lethargy and cynicism, whatever the reason, are the ingredients for disaster. They effectively prevent our vision of how things should be from becoming reality. This is why we as liberals must do everything in our power to create a legal and political environment in which ci- tizens feel free to live according to their individual choices and pre- ferences as well as to voice their concerns and act accordingly. Our institutional order must be geared to encouraging and enhancing ac- tive participation, not to discouraging participation and instilling fear. We need to be aware of the many informal conventions that encou- rage fair play, decency and mutual respect – and we need to commu- nicate and instil these values. The activity of the state must be limited to essentials: the citizen must be given as much space as possible. An open society requires an active citizenry, an enabling environ- ment devoid of fear and space for entrepreneurship and experimen- tation. It requires competition between different concepts of how things should be and robust debate between their respective propo- nents. This presupposes space for citizens’ initiative and action and, hence, limited government.

The liberal vision of an open society is one in which society is tole- rant of diversity, religious and political, and in which the state does not impose any comprehensive doctrine. A characteristic of this vision is rule of law – an institution that prevents arbitrary rule and lays down important and incontrovertible principles of law by which both government and individual citizens must abide.

The threats to such a vision are manifold: the disillusionment with politics that we see in many parts of the world, the opportunities for control and repression presented by hi-tech, the re-emergence of nationalism and fundamentalism of different kinds, the desire to be in control and the fear of losing power on the part of traditional and new authoritarian elites. How can this be countered, how can liberal achievements be preserved, and how can we again start to extend the boundaries of an open society? The need to do so is clear for all to see: we only need to look at the massive rollback against liberalism and open society in Russia, China, Venezuela, Turkey, the Philippines, and even (although to a lesser extent) Hungary, Poland and the United States under its current President, to name but a few examples.

There are also less obvious threats to an open society that need to be considered, those that limit the room for rational discourse and discussion: fake news and malicious propaganda, hate speech, po- litical correctness and the growing phenomenon of “safe spaces” in academic and other institutions. They prepare the ground for bigotry and misinformation and hence for populism and authoritarianism.
The entire event will attempt to treat the abovementioned subject matter from philosophical, empirical and political perspectives and will cover a variety of standpoints, some of them highly controversi- al. For instance, does an open society:

  • require or allow for positive discrimination?
  • or it to function smoothly and resolve conflict, require assimila- tion of immigrants or “multiculturalism”?
  • require more participation (eg, more elements of direct demo- cracy) or more centralised and streamlined governance?
  • require more surveillance for purposes of security or a greater protection of privacy?

 

OBJECTIVES

The workshop provides participants with an opportunity to:

  • familiarise themselves with the liberal concept of an “open society” and its major characteristics
  • assess why open debate and open markets are enduring foundations for democracy, societal progress and economic well-being
  • consider the links between open society, informational self-de- termination, subsidiarity and greater participation in decision making (eg, through direct democracy)
  • enumerate the reasons for trusting in individuals‘ rationality and ability to decide for themselves rather than in the efficacy of benevolent rule
  • examine the nature of threats that weaken and undermine an open society, eg, terrorism, political extremism, authoritaria- nism and populism and the techniques their representatives employ, as well as the underlying reasons for such threats
  • develop ideas on how to effectively counter attempts by various actors to diminish or restrict the freedoms citizens enjoy, including attempts to undermine privacy and the right to freedom of expression
  • devise ways of countering relevant threats in a robust manner, especially through the strengthening of institutions, through strengthening civil society and through the promotion of tole- rance
  • discuss a robust concept of tolerance, one that does not inclu- de submitting to intolerance, and how to implement it.

EXCURSIONS

The excursion will take participants to Cologne and Berlin. In the latter city we plan to meet

  • organisations and lobby groups working on behalf of diff- rent types of minorities,
  • federal ombudspersons for integration and on equal oppor- tunity,
  • representatives of the Free Democratic Party,
  • representatives of social media on content monitoring (eg, Facebook)
  • and a legal expert on current challenges with respect to rule of law in Germany

 

PARTICIPANTS

Participants for this workshop should be fully conversant with liberal principles and ideas and play an active role in politics, preferably in a leadership capacity. This includes politicians, civil society leaders, human rights lawyers, entrepreneurs, journa- lists, lobbyists, pedagogues, and people that provide policy advice (think tanks).

 

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LANGUAGE
English

CLOSING DATE
Usually 12 weeks before before the start of the seminar. Please contact the FNF office in your country / region.

REGISTRATION FEE
€ 260.00