Humanity in Action Fellowship in Warsaw

Program Description

The Warsaw Fellowship, called “Ideas Incubator,” deals with the question of how the Polish state and society have been dealing with human rights challenges in historical and contemporary perspectives. Special attention will be drawn to histories of discrimination and resistance - especially in the context of World War II, the Holocaust and National Socialism, relationships between majority and minorities, civil society, societal (in)justice, activism and solidarity. Those important and complex issues will be tackled through the Polish perspective so that they're not analyzed solely in an ‘abstract’ vacuum but in a given socio-political-economic and historical context. In other words, Poland’s past-present-future will be treated as a case study in order to look for certain universal and particular patterns/mechanisms that influence how a showcased society is functioning at a given time and what the role of individuals is to make things work better. Special attention will be given to present cases of contemporary human rights violations from the perspective of various categories of discriminated or excluded members of the Polish society. 

Since World War II, Poland has been a rather homogenous country. Polish society has lacked exposure to ‘the other’ and as a consequence, Polish society is polarized in debates on diversity. In many instances, free speech turns into hate speech. That is why the 2017 Warsaw Fellowship will focus on the issue of hate speech and discrimination - how it manifests, what kinds of threats it poses to a democratic society and how it could be counteracted. Throughout the program, participants will have a chance to come up with ideas/best practices on what kind of initiatives young activists can undertake to try to counteract discrimination in on-line and off-line realities, and - by that - make a difference.

Fellows will take part in trainings on how to raise awareness on human and minority rights - with a special focus on community organizing, using social campaigns and various kinds of social action. The overall goal for Fellows will be to develop and implement social campaigns on social media. The task will first consist of outreach and research on the challenges and needs of selected groups facing discrimination within Polish society, to then develop innovative strategies for counteracting these human rights infringements.


Please note that this is the 2017 agenda.

2017 Agenda

May 27

Opening of the 2017 Fellowship: WELCOME! Let’s Get to Know Each Other and the Fellowship, part 1

This day serves as an introduction of all participants into the program. Fellows who arrived the day before will have an opportunity to adapt to a new environment in Warsaw, to reenergize after the travel and to meet each other informally. In the morning, fellows will have a chance to get to know each other officially in a program setting. The next session will take a form of a short introduction to the program by the HIA staff. Additionally, the staff will provide some practical information about the stay in Warsaw (transportation, health, safety, etc.). The last program element is a guided walking tour through Warsaw in order to explore how the history of Warsaw is interconnected with Polish history and what are the links between past and present.

  • Introduction by Monika Mazur-Rafał, Przemysław lwanek, Sylwia Wodzińska & Alicja Łuczyńska - HIA Poland 
  • Who is Who?
  • Let's Talk about the Fellowship
  • (In)Visible History and Vibrant Present in the Streets of Warsaw
  • Guided tour through Warsaw, part 1 with Jagna Kofta, guide
  • Free time and informal networking 
  • Welcome dinner 

May 28

Let’s Get to Know Each Other and the Fellowship, part 2 

The second day is devoted to exploring the program in a more detailed way, that is, to clarify the expectations and agree upon the ‘rules of the game’. It consists of 2 sessions. We will begin by sharing personal stories through meaningful objects. Then, we will discuss our expectations towards the program and agree upon rules/obligations in a form of contract. The last program element is the second part of the guided walk tour through Warsaw, this time in the Praga district. How did ethnic/religious diversity in Poland look in the past? And how does it look now?

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Bring an Object - Who Are We as Human Rights Activists/ Advocates? 
  • Let’s Talk about You in the Fellowship
  • (In)Visible History and Vibrant Present in the Streets of Warsaw
  • Guided tour through Warsaw, part 2 Jagna Kofta, guide
  • Free time or informal networking

May 29

Democracy and Human Rights in Crisis - Poland and Europe 

The day starts with a debriefing session after a guided walking tour through Warsaw’s streets. Then, content-wise the day is dedicated to exploring some of the current social challenges at the national and international level that affect Polish and European societies. The case of Greece will be a point of reference for us during two subsequent sessions (not limited only to the questions on migration). What are the most important lessons both Europe and Poland could draw from the illiberal wave? At the national perspective of Poland, we will specifically look into the issues sparking public debate including women's rights. This will give fellows an overview of how Polish society approaches developments in human rights protection. 

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff 
  • 'Warsaw Book’ – Sharing Impressions from the Guided Tour through Warsaw 
  • The Feminist Movement and the Black Protest - Ewa Rutkowska
  • Greece - Far More Than Refugee Crisis - Jakub Dymek and Krytyka Polityczna
  • Fellows' Presentations
  • Populism, Democracy and "Refugee Crisis" in Europe - Konstanty Gebert
  • Fellows' Discussion 

May 30

How Do We See the World? Juggling Multiple Lenses

This day is devoted to identity and tackles it from various angles. Have you ever stopped for a second to rethink whether, and if yes, how prejudices and stereotypes shape your attitude towards others? It is important to realize how privilege (or, in fact, various privileges) influence how we understand our place in the world and how they both are connected to discrimination and hate speech. We will reflect on the perspective from which we view the world and where we stand in the social structure. We believe that acknowledging how we ourselves are involved in existing power structures will enable us to become more sensitive, mindful and efficient activists. This will give us a starting point for discussing Polish national identity in reference to "the Other". 

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Prejudices & Stereotypes vs. Hate Speech: What Leads to What? - Prof. Michał Bilewicz
  • Fellows' Presentations
  • Privilege & Discrimination vs. Minority & Majority - Maja Branka 
  • The Marginalized "Other": the Roots, Nature and Evolution of Discrimination in the Polish Context - Jan Sowa
  • Fellows’ Discussion

May 31

Dealing with Hate Speech and Prejudice: Towards Social Change 

Hate speech will constitute the leading subject of the day. What is hate speech, actually? Is it words only? And why would it matter what is being written in the cultures celebrating free speech? We will look into the practical dimension of how to define, monitor and counteract it online. Meeting inspiring social activists will serve fellows their daily portion of food for thought and inspiration for the output phase.   

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Fellows' Presentations
  • Action Project and Output Phase, part 1
  • Hate Speech in Poland: How to Monitor it and Counteract it? Case Study: HejtStop - Miłoz Hodun
  • Social Change via Internet and Social Media - Alexey Sidorenko 
  • Fellows' Discussion 
  • Me and the Group 

June 1

Introducing to Community Organizing part 1 

During the following two days, you will have an opportunity to take part in the training of how to raise awareness on human and minority rights. Specifically, we will drive into community organizing techniques with a particular emphasis on social campaigns and other kinds of social action. We will be introduced to Saul Alinsky's community organizing model through the analysis of a successful civil rights campaign in France. 

The second part of training will be dedicated to the storytelling method of 'owning your story'. Have you ever been moved by someone's story of how they began their activist path? This workshop will equip you in tools to be more articulate when someone asks you why you want to bring change. 

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Introduction by Tara Dickman
  • Going from Horizontal to Vertical. Introduction to Community - Tara Dickman 
  • Going Vertical Workshop 1- Tara Dickman
  • Owning Your Story - Tara Dickman
  • This One on One - Tara Dickman
  • Conclusions 

June 2

Introduction to Community Organizing part 2

The overall goal of this day is to get to know how to develop and implement social or advocacy campaigns on social media. You will be asked to reach out and research on the problems and needs of selected groups facing discrimination within the Polish society and, subsequently, to develop innovative strategies for counteracting these human rights infringements. We will gain basics of how to build good press relations, from framing a message to making it attractive to journalists. 

  • Feedback and Questions
  • Going vertical: Workshop 2 - Tara Dickman
  • Steps towards Good PR - Tara Dickman
  • Media Training - Tara Dickman
  • Conclusions 

June 3

Day off

  • Optional Warsaw Pride - "Equality Parade 2017"

June 4

From Hate to Extermination: Genocide Step by Step

Fellows will have a chance to deepen the historical knowledge of WWII and the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany on the Polish territory. The historical realms of those times will be discussed with the help of a documentary film on the Warsaw Ghetto. A film screening and site visit to Treblinka will lead to discussions on the relevance and legacy of the Holocaust as well as on linkages with other genocides. Most importantly, we will also think about possible actions to prevent genocides. Last but not least, the day gives an opportunity to commemorate the victims as well as space for personal reflection on this chapter of history and its relevance today.


  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Seeing is Believing. 'The Warsaw Ghetto 1940-1943'
  • Sharing Impressions, facilitated by Tomaz Cebulski
  • Travel to Museum of Armed Struggle and Martyrology in Treblinka by hired bus 
  • Never Again? The Legacy of the Holocaust - Guided by Tomasz Cebulski 
  • Individual time 
  • Fellows' Discussion - facilitated by Tomaz Cebulski
  • Travel to Warsaw by bus 


June 5

The "Others": Poles and Jews 

This day will be a journey through 1000 years of the history of Polish Jews - from the Middle Ages until today. Fellows will find answers to questions such as: how did Jews come to Poland? How did Poland become the center of the Jewish Diaspora and the home of the largest Jewish community in the world? How did it cease to be one, and how is Jewish life being revived? In contrast to Western Europe, after WWII Poland turned from a very diverse country into a more homogenous one due to the war, the Holocaust and the communist policy to eradicate any form of social difference. As diversity was a challenge even before WWII (the Second Polish Republic was a state struggling with consequences of diversity), communist propaganda managed to brainwash many Poles that the newly 'introduced' homogeneity was not only good, but also one of the successes in this part of the world. Having gone through over 45 years of communist/socialist regime, with practically non-existent freedom of speech, Polish society faces several challenges connected to growing diversity.

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Introduction by Justyna Koszarska-Szulc, Museum Polin
  • Sightseeing: Core Exhibition, Museum of the History of Polish Jews Polin
  • Different Faces of Anti-Semitism in Poland - Ana Zielińska & Daniel Słomka
  • Fellow's Presentations
  • Fellows’ Discussion
  • Individual sightseeing

June 6

Mid-term evaluation & How to Challenge Prejudices and Stereotypes 

This day is devoted to two themes. On one hand, it provides fellows with the opportunity to reflect on their fellowship experience so far. On the other hand, it focuses on how to challenge prejudices & stereotypes. In this part, we will learn about HIA Poland's contribution to pre-empting prejudices and the promotion of human rights ideals/culture through its activities/initiative. Moreover, we will speak about how to tackle prejudices from the perspective of social psychology. Last but not least, we will discuss the legacy of the Solidarity Movement, its leaders, values and methods of resistance. We will focus especially on the women's place in the movement. Why was this movement so successful and influential, not only for Poland but also for other parts of Europe? What are the universal lessons learned which are relevant nowadays, and what are the actions that could be critiqued especially from today's perspective? Which good practices could be inspirational from other countries or which cold be seen as troublesome (and why)?

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Effective Counter Strategies - Challenging Prejudices & Stereotypes  - effective remedies in the light of social psychology- Anna Stefaniak 
  • Pre-empting Prejudice: Raising Awareness and Instigating Change by HIA Network & HIA Poland
  • Fellow's Presentation - Monika Mazur-Rafał
  • The Fellowship so far: Sharing Impressions
  • Women and the Solidarity Movement - Agnieszka Grzybek
  • Fellows' Discussion  

June 7

"Others" in Polish Context: Women & LQBTQ

The aim of the day is to explore the process of forging the new social order and its consequences of two case studies: LGBTQI and people with disabilities. These will be presented by representatives of NGOs and by social activists, who will share their approaches towards and experiences with human rights violations (especially hate speech) and good practices in responding to them. During the day, we will also have a look into how Polish identity and religion are intertwined. In the past, the Church often served as a sort of real and symbolic asylum/shelter for the dissidents. During Socialism, people who disagreed with the uniform Communist Party-line organized the solidarity movement, while the Church tried to galvanize the society together against the common enemy- the ruling regime. As much as it enable to exercise some sort of freedom (personal, artistic and the like) and mobilizing resistance, it looked for ways of strengthening 'Polishness' and being together on particular terms. After 1989, the situation has deeply changed and the Roman Catholic Church needs to 'compete' on the free 'market' of diverse ideas.  

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff 
  • The Social Model of Disability in Poland: The Ideal vs. The Reality - Magdalena Szarota
  • The Role of Religion In Shaping Polish Society And Identity - Łukasz Niparko
  • Fellows' Presentations 
  • LGBTQI(+) - How to Move Forward? - Julia Maciocha & Vyacheslav Melnyk 
  • Fellows' Discussion

June 8

"Others" in Polish Context 

With reference to previous days, the fellows will continue exploring the nuances of the Polish democracy and civic society especially by focusing on challenges with the presence of migrants. After over 44 years of living in a communist/socialist "freezer" with a very limited freedom of speech, Polish society is facing various difficulties that have been caused by a growing diversity. Opening borders after 1989 made Poles question the prevalent notion of country's homogeneity due to several factors such as: the influx of migrants into the country; (re)discovering diversity within the country exemplified by Poland-based national and ethnic minorities; the possibility to freely travel and cross borders again. The fellows will explore what are the key challenges with integration and inclusion of newcomers as well as will learn some good practices developed by selected NGOs. We will discuss also the specific cases of xenophobia: islamophobia, racism and anti-Ukrainian racism in Poland. 

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff 
  • Migrants vs. Aliens? Challenges of Integration and Inclusion - Agnieszka Kosowicz
  • Islamophobia in Poland and Europe - Prof. Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska
  • Fellows' Presentations 
  • The New Ukrainian Puzzle in The Homogenic Picture - Miroslava Keryk
  • Racism and Nationalism in Poland - Jacek Purski 
  • Fellows' Discussion 

June 9

Research – Work with Community Organizations

Fellows will engage in some direct actions and community work in cooperation with one of the following NGOs: Aim High Initiative, Conflict Kitchen, Jewish Community of Warsaw, Equality Volunteering, Mamy Głos and Polish Migration Forum. We will take part in activities close to the interests of communities involved. With hindsight of last two weeks fellows will be able to get more from their activities. We believe that this grass-roots experience and discussions with communities will allow fellows to come up with thoughtful strategies for addressing refugee crisis, xenophobia, discrimination, rise of the extreme via means of social campaigns. Campaigns run in cooperation with experts from the field and communities might have a considerable potential for igniting sparks of social change, and equip fellows with new attitudes.

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Group preparations 
  • Meeting and working with community organizations, part 1 

June 10

Working With Community Organizations, Part 2 OR Day Off (depending on the organization)

  • Work with community organizations (TBC)
  • Meeting with Senior Fellows

June 11

Training on Social and Advocacy Campaigns 

The day is devoted to the skills’ training with the aim to explore how to create and develop interesting campaigns and how to get other people to care about them (discuss, share, critique etc.). By the end of the day fellows should have a draft brief of a campaign they will run. At this stage fellows can contact our graphic designers for further guidance if needed.

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Fellows' Presentations 
  • Social and Advocacy Campaigns in Action - Marek Dorobisz 
  • Social and Advocacy Campaigns in Action, continued 
  • Fellows' Presentations 
  • Meeting with Senior Fellows


June 12

Working With Community Organizations, Part 2 OR Day Off (depending on the organization)

Fellows will engage in some direct actions and community work in cooperation with one of the following NGOs: Aim High Initiative, Conflict Kitchen, Equality Volunteering, Jewish Community of Warsaw, Mamy Głos, and Polish Migration Forum. Fellows will contribute to NGO's daily work as volunteers with specific frames and goals of a given project. At the same time, they will get to know the community and share their ideas for social campaigns with them. It is highly recommended to make use of this time to create some content, which later might be used for social campaigns. 

  • Work with community organizations (TBC)

June 13

Social and Advocacy Campaigns

Fellows will share with each other their results and the content they created so far.  

  • Me and the Group - HIA Poland Staff
  • Implementation, part 1
  • Implementation, part 2

June 14

Social and Advocacy Campaigns

During this day fellows continue they work on their campaigns. HIA Staff will meet with each group on their request for feedback session. By this day, the fellows have started their campaigns and published first content on-line or off-line.

  • Implementation, part 1
  • Implementation, part 2  

June 15

Social and Advocacy Campaigns

During this day fellows continue they work on their campaigns. HIA Staff will meet with each group on their request for feedback and implementation session

  • Implementation

June 16

Reflecting on Further Actions

We will have a chance to talk with Dr. Judith Goldstein about HIA activities, vision and its contribution to human rights education. Fellows will present their Action Project ideas.

  • Introduction by HIA Poland Staff
  • Let’s Talk about HIA and Activism Beyond with Dr. Judith Goldstein
  • Action Projects: How to Link Output Phase with One’s Activism? Part 2
  • Implementation 

June 17

Social and Advocacy Campaigns 

During this day fellows continue they work on their campaigns. HIA Staff meets with each group on their request for feedback session.  

  • Implementation
  • Meeting the Senior Fellows - Barbecue

June 18

Day off

June 19

The fellows are requested to work on their final presentations in the Pecha Kucha format, which will introduce the public into their work and findings/results. Each group will have ca. 7 minutes. 

  • Implementation

June 20

Presenting Campaign Results

This day is meant as a celebration of the whole fellowship as well as showtime. The fellows should do their best to share their findings and ideas with others in an interesting and engaging manner. It will be also a time for collective brain-storming/feedback on how to make the already existing ideas more effective and interesting. 

  • Welcome & Introduction with HIA Poland staff
  • Challenges of Hate Speech and Discrimination in Poland - the Role of Commissioner for Human Rights and the Civic Society (key note speech) - Adam Bodnar
  • Presentations, Session 1 (group 1-4)
  • Presentations, Session 2 (groups 5-8)
  • Q&A
  • Summary & Closing
  • Farewell Dinner

June 21

Closing of the Warsaw-based 2017 Fellowship

The aim of the meeting is to share impressions after the whole experience, exchange some ideas for improvement of the program for the future as well as to fill in a feedback questionnaire. Finally, the details regarding the travel to International Conference will be discussed. 

  • Lunch
  • Sharing Impressions, Evaluation & Closing Remarks

June 22

Group Travel to Berlin

June 22-26

8th Annual Humanity in Action International Conference in Berlin, Germany  

June 26

Fellows Travel Back Home


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