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Bernadett Sebály

PhD candidate, Central European University (Austria)
Funded Research Project Title: Movement Timeline – An Online Educational Tool of Hungarian Movements

Project Title: Movement Timeline – An Online Educational Tool of Hungarian Movements

Bernadett is an early-stage researcher at the Central European University (CEU) and an educator at the School of Public Life, an activist training institute in Hungary. Bernadett’s project hopes to bring pertinent knowledge and analyses to help activists and organizations improve their strategy.

As a result of the autocratization of Hungary, progressive activism and protest movements have significantly strengthened in the last 12 years. Students, teachers, LGBT people, workers, homeless people, and other groups have stood up several times to protect their interests. Bernadett proposes producing a movement timeline, an online educational tool, which will give an overview of eleven movements in Hungary between 1989-2020, including the housing, trade unions/workers, students, and women's movements. This user-friendly, visually appealing, searchable timeline will present thousands of protest events, illustrated by pictures, and will be an excellent tool for both activists, educators and scholars to process a movement’s history.

What is the yet unknown face of Hungarian civil society like? To what extent is it different from the widespread notion that civil society in Hungary (and Eastern Europe in general) is weak? These are the research questions this project aims to answer. Bernadett draws on a dataset compiled in a protest event analysis by Prof. Béla Greskovits and Prof. Jason Wittenberg in 2016.

The School of Public Life will be responsible to disseminate the movement timeline to activists and civil society professionals through trainings, events, and the media, and to incorporate the timeline into the School’s training practice. The School of Public Life was founded in 2014 in Budapest and aims to strengthen democracy in Hungary by providing citizenship education and knowledge on organizing for a just society to activists and civil society professionals, with special emphasis on the participation of disadvantaged groups. The School specializes in short and long-term trainings for adults from diverse social and ethnic groups, participatory action research and strategic planning for civil society organizations. In 2018 alone they worked with over 600 participants from over 120 organizations. The School of Public Life is the only educational organization in Hungary that is primarily dedicated to strengthening civic initiatives and grassroots organizing and to empowering disadvantaged adults to actively participate in public life. They work with a unique methodology based on critical pedagogy, which emphasizes participants’ knowledge and mutual learning with the facilitation of the trainers, thus we always seek to work with diverse groups of participants.

The goal of this research from the very beginning has been to help activists and civil society professionals learn about the struggles of their movement and build a collective knowledge of their community’s efforts for social change. By understanding how their work fits into the larger struggles and learning from the mistakes of their predecessors or drawing strength from their successes, they will better assess present political struggles and design better strategies.