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IISCE - English version

New ways of debating EU – sharing knowledge, developing methods, organising debates

Financed by:
- Europe for Citizens Programme
- International Visegrad Fund

Main organizer (project’s leader):

Agora Central Europe (Prague, Czech Republic) has extensive experience in the area of public debates. It has been organising public debates for three years in Prague. Emphasis has been put on cultivation of the way of public discussion and its interactive nature - skilled moderators from Czech Television and Czech Radio were employed to facilitate debates between politicians, independent specialists and general participating public. More than forty debates have been organized on significant current political, economical, cultural or ecological topics.
General aim of Agora CE mission is reinforcing democratic principles on various levels of society through stimulation of citizen involvement in decision-making, broadening responsive space for public debate and promoting public debate.
Agora CE is part of Central and Eastern European (CEE) Citizens Network, a network that provides opportunities for grassroots citizens initiatives from the CEE region to learn, exchange experience and ideas as well as enhance their organizational growth through establishing and managing a partner network among themselves.

Partners:

Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia (PDCS, Bratislava, Slovakia) is an independent civic association, working as a non-governmental educational institution within the international network Partners for Democratic Change International. PDCS’s mission is to create and spread democratic approaches to conflict prevention and resolution within transforming society and to institutionalize corresponding principles, particularly in Slovakia. PDCS provides training, facilitates public participation and organises public debates.
PDCS will take part in the seminar, exchange their know-how with other partners and learn from them. They will also organise two debates on common issues in Bratislava and monitor them. 

The International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education (IISCE, Wroclaw, Poland) is an interdepartmental academic and research center whose mission is to foster education built on the culture of pluralism. Among our central themes are ethnic and cultural pluralism, gender equity and disability rights. The Institute has broad experience in organizing open seminars, panel discussions, public debates and conferences on above mentioned themes.

The IISCE will take part in the seminar, exchange their know-how with other partners and learn from them. They will also organise two debates on common issues in Wroclaw and monitor them.

Summary of the project:

The aims and results of the project differ in regard to target groups. On the general level, the project aims at enhancing the democratic environment and the participating states of the European union. The public debates, which will be held in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, will encourage citizens to participate in the national public debate and therefore become active citizens. The project especially aims at citizens currently detached from the public sphere. Even the wider public will be informed about the event through media and will therefore be familiar with this expression of active citizenship.
The participating organizations will share know-how concerning the organization of the debates and the culturally specific views on the issues. All the organizations will be, as the result of the project, capable of organizing an inclusive public debate that would have publicity and also impact within the public space.      
Agora CE wishes to transfer the organization’s experience and know-how for organizing, promoting, and moderating public debates to other countries. These debates together with the know-how and the gathered experience will be summarized in a report and a leaflet. In Poland and Slovakia, Agora CE will seek to introduce the time-tested format of its debates and offer a model that its partners can implement on their own in the future. 
In Autumn 2007 Agora CE set up a seminar on public debates for all three partners. The seminar, held in cooperation with Dutch expert, Ruben Maes, resulted in developing a method, which will be used for a series of two debates in each participating country. The seminar was monitored by an independent analyst.
Subsequently, two debates will be held in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. The common topics will be:

“Growth of Populism. Majorities, minorities and their rights“ -
The Report

“Urban borders - social and cultural stratification as an example of discrimination?“  - The Report

The debates will be based on a common methodology rooted in the experience of Agora CE  and will be monitored.
Agora CE will publish a leaflet comparing the situation in the three countries and highlight key similarities and differences between the debates, the perception of the debated issue as a tangible result of the project. The leaflet will be based on monitoring report from an independent analyst.
The core of the leaflet will be the essential methods of the debate described in a separate document called “Methodology of organizing and conducting public debate concerning public issues”.  The results will serve as a basis for any future discussion on the national problems within the context of the European Union.
Agora CE hopes to improve the debating skills of citizens from the participating countries through sharing a model of public discussion and engagement that has contributed to the democratic transformation in the Czech Republic. Naturally, Agora CE seeks to exchange knowledge and obtain the relevant know-how from its partners as well. Agora CE expects to learn more about the format of existing debates in Poland and Slovakia, about their impact and their role in democratic processes in the two countries.