HIA Germany Hosts Workshop on European Political Transitions

May 10, 2011 | hia programs

HIA Germany hosted a conference in early March entitled “European Transitions from Dictatorship to Democracy in the late 1980’s.” Supported by the European Union Lifelong Learning Program and run by HIA Germany Program Director Anne Stalfort, the conference hosted thirteen EU residents (including five Senior Fellows) representing thirteen different nationalities.

The workshop was distinct from the HIA summer programs in that it mixed young people and more established professionals who might not otherwise come into contact with HIA. “The age diversity wasn't just a novelty item, but contributed significantly to the intellectual content of the workshop,” said participant and Senior Fellow Dave Liebers (Warsaw 2010). “Some participants had directly experienced political transformation in Eastern Europe. Others came of age after their country of origin had undergone major changes, but brought memories from their childhood and family stories. Others had less personal connections with transformations, but had taken a historical or intellectual interest in the events. Awesome, awesome, awesome.“

The workshop, which focused on European political transitions in the 1980’s from historical and personal perspectives, included lectures, historians and activists, site visits, discussions and testimonies by eyewitnesses. The workshop culminated in the simulation game developed by HIA Germany two years ago in collaboration with Plan Politik (www.planpolitik.de) in a workshop on “Peaceful Revolution”. Centered around a fictitious country in the throes of political upheaval and regime change, the game asks dominant interest groups and stakeholders to come together to negotiate a course of action that is acceptable to all. “The exercise of having to assume an identity with predefined values and interests, and engage in [sometimes intense] negotiations with others was, I think, a uniformly profitable experience,” said Liebers.

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