Summer School "The Virtualization of Social Consciousness" organized by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation took place on the 14-16 of August in Kyiv. 23 participants from all regions of Ukraine spent three days learning the fundamentals of battling manipulative technologies and developing the skills to defend themselves from propaganda.
The goal of this year’s Summer School was to heighten critical thinking and the conscious perception of media material. The training was conducted by experts from the foremost organizations involved in the study of propaganda, fakes, and disinformation – Internews-Ukraine, StopFake and UkraineWorld.org.
During the first day, the youth had the unique opportunity to have a discussion with the editor-in-chief of the renowned Ukrainian publication UkraineWorld.org – Volodymyr YERMOLENKO. They spoke about how Russian propaganda distorts Ukrainian history. The intellectual discussion ended up being surprisingly lively and productive.
The participants were introduced to principles of digital security by an expert from the School of Digital Security DSS380 "Internews-Ukraine" Pavlo BELOUSOV.
They were also taught about how the internet and technology allows for manipulation and if there is anything we can do to protect ourselves from it by the head of the programs for new media "Internews-Ukraine" Vitaliy MOROZ.
The second day was no less interesting, as it began with a training from the executive director of StopFake Ruslan DEYNYCHENKO on the theme of counteracting Russian propaganda and disinformation. The guest shared the most widespread examples of information distortion through social communication channels.
The participants were taught methods of protecting against disinformation and the fundamentals of critical thinking by Viktoriya ROMANYUK – the deputy editor-in-chief of StopFake. Moreover, Viktoriya taught the participants how to properly act in the virtual world and develop critical thinking skills as well as how to accurately the verify information.
On top of theoretical knowledge, the participants were also given practical assignments; in particular, they were invited to participate in a social experiment/training from doctor of phycology science Valeriy DOROZHKYN. Experiment "Propaganda Machines Within Me. Operating Instructions" lead to an unexpected outcome, for the participants and trainer alike.
On the third day, the participants met with renowned political analyst and television host Taras BEREZOVETS. The expert admitted that the lower the education level of the public, the more possibility there is for manipulation and time only changes the means of its delivery. Right now, it’s social media and the internet. "This is why raising the level of general awareness in every one of us is so important," emphasized Taras BEREZOVETS.
The Director of the Open Ukraine Foundation, Ramina SHUT, shared her impressions about Summer School: "Ukraine has a unique experience in combating Russian propaganda but these skills need to constantly be developed. For this reason, we have invited the best experts in counteracting the dispersal of fake information to this year’s Summer School. In addition to the experts however, we saw that our participants were also the best, for which I give them a special thank you."
As a result of Summer School the participants were awarded with certificates and the most active of the group were rewarded with memorable gifts.
The Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation is an international foundation founded in July of 2007 to strengthen and develop Ukraine’s credibility in the world. The foundation’s objectives are to improve the international credibility and popularize Ukraine abroad, to promote international cooperation with Ukraine and public diplomacy.