IMSISS students attend 2019 EU-US Young Leaders Seminar

Last month, seven IMSISS students from two different cohorts participated in the 2019 EU-US Young Leaders Seminar on “Shared Transatlantic Challenges: Disinformation & the Changing Media Landscape” in Brussels. The event consisted of 27 current American Fulbrighters and 25 European students, representing Erasmus+, Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programs, and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. It proved to be a dynamic and thought-provoking opportunity where young professionals from all over the world had the opportunity to discuss crucial societal issues.

The seminar kicked off with a welcome dinner on Sunday evening after some opening remarks from the organizers. Representatives from the European Union, the Fulbright Program and the US embassy all expressed their eagerness to learn from the participants and from each other. Over the course of the event, we had the opportunity to attend presentations and discuss with expert panels representing the private sector, the public sector, and civil society in addressing disinformation and media literacy.

On Monday morning Sophia Ignatidou of Chatham House kicked off the formal part of the program by presenting the initial findings of her research paper on ‘EU – US Cooperation to Tackle Disinformation.’ This presentation set the framework for the discussions that followed. In the first panel, representing the private sector, we had the opportunity to ask questions from representatives from Facebook, Google, and Mozilla as well as veteran journalist Miranda Spivack. The second panel, discussing the public sector, provided a discussion between Paolo Cesarini of the European Commission (DG-CONNECT), Kathy Giles-Diaz of the U.S. Department of State’s U.S.-European Regional Media Hub, Jon Kyst of the EEAS East Stratcom Task Force, and Lutz Güllner of the EEAS Strategic Communications Division.

On Tuesday there was a final panel discussion on “Civil Society and Shared Solutions” which included IMSISS student Agniete Pocyte alongside Dr. Michael X Delli Carpini, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Nad’a Kovalcikova, a program manager at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, and Tessa Jolls, the director of the Center for Media Literacy. Following the panel discussions, we were divided into small breakout sessions to discuss the panel presentations and the current challenges of disinformation more generally. These panels allowed for more personal and in-depth discussions and were chaired by seminar participants themselves.

The organizers also enabled for more informal networking during the lunches and on Monday evening we were welcomed by Amb. Gordon S. Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, during a reception held in honor of the seminar. All in all, it was a great opportunity to discuss contemporary challenges with young professionals from different backgrounds, and have a glimpse of Brussels at the same time!

Full detailed summary of the event:

Benjamin Hawkin,  IMSISS 2017/19

“The seminar created an engaging forum through which to discuss opinions and views on one of today’s most pertinent issues, from both sides of the Atlantic. By meeting and speaking with such a varied and brilliant group, with field-leading speakers and participants, I left the conference feeling vastly more aware of the threats facing democracies through disinformation campaigns and the steps that should be taken to tackle them.”

Virag Turcsan, IMSISS 2018/2020

“The seminar underscored one of the most important aspects for building a better, more inclusive future for all: transnational cooperation on vital issues. The unique experience and perspectives that such a global group of representatives were able to share created grounds for fascinating and highly productive discussions. Hearing from several different sectors and learning about their experience with disinformation provided participants with invaluable insight to the issue. I cannot thank the organisers enough for such a wonderful conference.”

Agniete Pocyte, IMSISS 2017/19

‘I am very honoured to have been part of such a collaborative and thought-provoking seminar. Having studied and worked within disinformation, I really appreciated the insights from industry professionals and students alike. As disinformation and media literacy issues are not bound by geographical barriers, it is increasingly important to engage with diverse perspectives and disciplines, and I hope this initiative continues for years to come.’

Stefano De Blasi, IMSISS 2018/20

“In the current political landscape characterized by social divisions and economic competitions, the opportunity to discuss transatlantic solutions with international students and experts has been an invaluable experience for my personal and academic growth. This experience proved how different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas are fundamental when facing multifaceted challenges, such as disinformation threats and media literacy. The passion demonstrated during the conferences confirmed my generation’s commitment to secure a better future for our deeply connected societies.” 

EU-US Young Leaders Seminar













Date: June 24, 2019 2:38 pm