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Solidarity Academy

Solidarity Academy is an international project aimed at inspiring and supporting the development of the young intellectual elites across Europe. The project’s title refers to the Polish social movement Solidarność (Solidarity) and the peaceful socio-political transformations that took place in Poland and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In such movements we can find inspiration for solving the problems of the modern world.

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About

The Solidarity Academy, created by the European Solidarity Centre, has been gathering the young intelectual elites for more than 10 years.

Workshops and tasks that the participants deal with are both theoretical and practical. The participants have the opportunity to work in a big, international team, in smaller expert groups and individually under the supervision of a trainer. The workshops culminate in a public debate and a series of articles prepared by participants.

Main goals

One of the main goals of the project is to create the Solidarity Academy Alumni Programme, which helps participants maintain contact and engage in joint projects in the future. This is why assistants and facilitators for each edition are recruited among Academy graduates.

What is more, Solidarity Academy graduates publish regular articles, reviews, essays, political analyses and opinion pieces in bimonthly journal New Eastern Europe and on the Eastbook.eu portal. Graduates also become ambassadors for the project in their respective countries. They establish local initiatives reflective of the Solidarity Academy spirit, popularise it in their own countries and help organisers contact their countries’ representatives.

Editions

There has been 12 editions of the project so far, in which over 300 participants have taken part. The first 8 editions had a different form. In 2013 the organisers decided to change its direction. The evaluation of the last two editions has shown that such direction is worth continuing.

Limiting the number to 16 participants has enabled an individual approach to everyone, and the development of a personal relationship with the organisers. A networking space, based on active engagement from all members, was created as a result. All the project’s participants had a chance to get to know each other and share their experiences. Division into small groups has also enabled more workshop-like activities, which allow for thoughts and experiences to be exchanged.

Each individual engaged in the project (participants, trainers, facilitators and organisers) benefit from that format. Organisers also encourage participants from various editions to get to know each other. A good example of this is graduates’ participation in projects related to Solidarity Academy. In May 2015, several specially-invited graduates created a press office as part of the European Reflection Forum “Europe with a view to the future.”

Each edition of Solidarity Academy has a specific theme. In 2013 the theme was the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme, in 2014 – the Ukrainian crisis. The 2016 edition was dedicated to Polish – Russian relations, with an additional focus on border traffic between Russia’s Kaliningrad oblast and Poland’s Pomeranian and Warminsko-Mazurskie Voivodeships. In the year 2016 two editions of the Solidarity Academy were organized: the Visegrad Group edition and Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue edition.

Organizers & Partners

The project’s organisers are: the European Solidarity Centre, Council of the Baltic Sea States (Sweden) and the editorial teams of New Eastern Europe and Eastbook.eu. Such a wide, cross-institutional partnership guarantees the project’s continuity and its synergy with other activities of the aforementioned organisations. What’s more, the European Solidarity Centre’s role as a government-funded cultural institution provides the project with a stable set of foundations.

In 2016 the Solidarity Academy Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue – in partnership with The Common Europe Foundation - editorial office of Eastbook.eu (Poland), The Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Germany), The Jan Nowak-Jezioranski College in Wroclaw – editorial office of the New Eastern Europe (Poland), Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, office in Kaliningrad (Germany), The Schleswig-Holstein Youth Council (Germany) – is co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In 2016 the the Visegrad Group edition of Academy – in partnership with Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů (Czech Republic), Ad hoc (Slovakia), József Attila Kör (Hungary) – is supported by the International Visegrad Fund.

In 2015 the Academy was supported by the The Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, the Marshal of Pomeranian Voivodeship and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.