Conference speakers

Aleida Assmann studied English Literature and Egyptology at the universities Heidelberg and Tuebingen. Since 1993 she holds the chair of English Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Konstanz, Germany. She taught as a guest professor at various universities (Princeton, Yale, Chicago and Vienna). In 2008 she received an Honorary Degree from the University of Oslo, in 2014 the Heineken Price for History of the Royal Netherland Academy of Sciences. The Max Planck Research Award (2009) allowed her to establish a research group on memory and history (2009-2015). Her main areas of research are historical anthropology, history of media, history and theory of reading and writing, cultural memory, with special emphasis on Holocaust and trauma. Latest publications in English: Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories (ed. with Sebastian Conrad, 2010), Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives (2012), Memory and Political Change (ed. with Linda Shortt, 2012), Introduction to Cultural Studies: Topics, Concepts, Issues (2012).

Dirk Auer studied Political Science and Sociology in Giessen, Oldenburg and Bremen (Germany). He received his Ph.D. in 2003 from the Department of Sociology at the University in Oldenburg where he worked as a scientific assistant and lecturer from 1996 to 2003. Afterwards he started to work as a free-lance journalist. In 2006, he moved to Sofia as a South Eastern Europe correspondent for various German-speaking media outlets. Since 2013, he is based in Belgrade. In his work he is focused on minority rights, migration and social movements. He is founder of balkan:biro, a network for German speaking journalists reporting from South Eastern Europe. 

Nina Y. Belayeva is a professor and the head of the Public Policy Department at the Russian National Research University Moscow Higher School of Economics, and a member of its academic council. From 2006, she has been involved in the work of OSCE/ODIHR and its expert panel on the freedom of peaceful assembly, and co-authored the ODIHR Guidelines on Freedom of Assembly endorsed by the Venice Commission. Nina Belyaeva was visiting professor in Colorado College, Moscow State University Law School, Georgetown University, Salzburg University Law School, Johns Hopkins University, Cape Town University, University of Bologna and the University of Sarajevo (ERMA). She earned a doctoral degree at the Institute of State and Law under the Academy of Sciences of the USSR on the subject of political activity of voluntary organisations in the USSR and its enabling legal regime.

Philipp Blom was born in Hamburg, Germany. After university studies in Vienna and Oxford, he obtained a Ph.D. in Modern History. He started writing at Oxford and published a novel as well as occasional journalism. Later, he worked in London as an editor, translator, writer and freelance journalist, contributing to newspapers, magazines and radio programmes in Great Britain, the US, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, and France. In 2007 he settled in Vienna, where he continues to write historical nonfiction as well as fiction, and journalism. He presents a cultural discussion programme on Austrian national radio and has lectured on philosophy and cultural history in Europe, the US, and South America. His current project is „At Breaking Point“ – a historical overview of culture and life during the inter-War period in Europe and the United States. Latest publications: The Pursuit of Reason – a history of the radical Enlightenment in France (forthcoming), Geister (forthcoming), The Vertigo Years (2008).

Kita Boncheva holds a B.A. degree in International Economic Relations and an M.A. degree in European Studies. She has studied and worked in Belgium, Bulgaria, England and Germany. Kita Boncheva is a project manager and an experienced practitioner in creative and art methods in citizenship education. She is the CEO of YMCA Dobrich, which develops regional and international youth projects on citizenship participation, inclusion, conflict resolution, democracy, human rights, etc. She is fluent in English, German, French, Russian and Romanian and works as a translator for the European Parliament. Since 2013, she is Alumni Representative of the fellowship programme "Shaping Europe – Civic Education in Action" for young Europeans – a co-operation between the bpb and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Apart from that, she is a professional opera singer.

Pamela Brandt is an online contributor at the German Federal Agency for Civic Education. She studied History, Journalism, Education and the Romance Studies in Hamburg, Paris and Bordeaux. She has worked as a freelance journalist for print and television, including the broadcasters Pro7, ZDF and MDR. Pamela Brandt completed an internship at the Federal Agency for Civic Education in 2001, and subsequently became an online contributor in the area of multimedia. Her duties there include maintenance of the Federal Agency for Civic Education’s website and the online election tool ‘Wahl-O-Mat’.

Chris Burns is media director for the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe and is host of the Euronews hard talk programme The Network. He is a graduate of Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley. A Franco-American journalist with 25 years' reporting experience in Europe, the U.S., Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, he has covered armed conflicts, election battles, financial crises, natural and human disasters and film festivals, reporting for CNN, Bloomberg TV and the Associated Press. 

David Chandler is professor of International Relations and director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding and the editor of a new journal Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses. He is also editor of the Routledge book series Studies in Intervention and Statebuilding and a new series Advances in Democratic Theory. He is the author of a number of books, including: Resilience: The Governance of Complexity (Routledge, 2014); Freedom vs. Necessity in International Relations: Human-Centred Approaches to Security and Development (Zed Books, March 2013); and International Statebuilding: The Rise of Post-Liberal Governance (Routledge, 2010).

Nelly Corbel is co-director of the John D. Gerhart Center where she founded the University Civic Engagement unit. She is the lead author of a book chapter on best practice in university-based civic engagement with the Talloires Network, a member of the board of advisor for the Community-Based Learning programme at AUC and the vice president and founder of the Lazord Foundation. Nelly Corbel has over 10 years of work experience in university-based civic engagement and citizenship education. She was a Newman fellow for Social Justice, a recipient of the Annenberg fellowship in Paris and the representative of the Dalai Lama Fellowship in Egypt. She holds a Master degree in International Affairs: Civil Society Development and Conflict Resolution from the American University of Paris, a Mastère 2 in Sciences Economiques et Sociales: Sociologie des Conflits from the Institut Catholique de Paris and Bachelors in International Politics from AUP.

Borislava Daskalova is member of the Bulgarian Network for Human Rights Education. She has been working as a human rights educator and civil society activist since 1989. She is experienced in training, research and international project management in the field of human rights education, peace studies, conflict resolution and art for social change. Furthermore, she is a member of the Pool of Trainers at the Directorate of Youth and Sport at the Council of Europe as well as the Pool of SALTO trainers at the European Commission. Borislava Daskalova holds a M.Phil. in Sociology of Gender, a M.A. in Social Anthropology and a B.A. in Literature and Drama. She was involved in post-graduate academic research with the Open Society Institute in New York, the Central European University in Budapest, the University of Vienna, the Saarland University in Germany as well as the University of Washington in the USA.

Lynn Davies is Emeritus professor of International Education at the University of Birmingham, UK. She has taught at primary, secondary and higher education levels in Mauritius and Malaysia as well as the UK. Her professional interests are in education and conflict, education and extremism and education in fragile contexts, and she has done research and consultancy in a number of conflict-affected states such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Angola and Sri Lanka. She has also done work in the UK on evaluating programmes to counter extremism and on mentoring those at risk of radicalisation. Her current research is on transitional justice approaches to education, on teacher education for democracy in South Africa and on elite leadership in the Philippines. Her books include “Education and Conflict: Complexity and Chaos” (2004) and “Educating Against Extremism” (2008). She has just completed a book called “Unsafe Gods: Security, Secularism and Schooling” (2014) and is co-editor of a recent book on Gender, Religion and Education.    

Jochum de Graaf is senior project manager at ProDemos – House for Democracy and the Rule of Law in The Hague, the Netherlands. He holds a master degree in Sociology of Economics and Organisations and a post doc in Journalism. He has been working in the field of civic education since 1980, editing and publishing various publications on political problems in the Netherlands, amongst others a handbook on using the media. From the beginning in 1989, he was involved in the development of “StemWijzer”, the very successful political preference test in the Netherlands. At the parliamentary elections in 2012, the site obtained 4.9 million users. He successfully introduced the StemWijzer-method in Germany (2002), Switzerland (2003), Bulgaria (2005), France (2007) and the UK (2008). Together with the German Federal Agency for Civic Education he played an active role in building the NECE network Vote Match Europe 2014, for the EP-elections.

Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos is head of the ‘Equality and Citizens’ Rights’ department at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). His areas of expertise include issues of equality and non-discrimination, as well as child rights. He studied Sociology at Manchester and Essex University, UK. Since the mid-1980s he worked in academic institutions, where he lectured and conducted quantitative and qualitative social research. In parallel, during the 1990s he worked in local and regional government. Later he coordinated national and transnational research projects. Since 2003, when he started working for the Agency, he has been responsible for several of its major publications and contributed extensively to a number of policy documents.

Vedran Dzihic currently is senior researcher at oiip – Austrian Institute for International Affairs, lecturer at the Institute for Political Sciences, University of Vienna, and co-director of the Center for Advanced Studies – South East Europe. He was Austrian Marshall Plan fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Vedran Dzihic is author of four monographs and editor/co-editor of further 14 edited volumes/books, numerous book chapters, scholarly articles, policy papers and op-eds on various topics. Recently, he co-edited two books in cooperation with Brookings Institutions Press and the Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS, Washington D.C.: “Unfinished Business. The Western Balkans and the International Community” (2012), together with Dan Hamilton, and “Looming Shadows. Migration and Integration at a Time of Upheaval. European and American Perspectives” (2012), together with Thomas Schmidinger.

Reinhard Eckert is project coordinator of the international school network “aces – Academy of Central European Schools” and member of the senior management team of Interkulturelles Zentrum, Vienna. He has previously worked for the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights as well as in educational, humanitarian and social projects in Albania, Cyprus, Romania and Serbia. His academic background is in educational science and special/therapeutic pedagogies (University of Vienna).

Judith Fiebelkorn joined eurotopics as an editor in February 2014. She studied Politics and Sociology in Hanover (Germany) and then completed a cross-media training course at the Protestant School of Journalism (EJS) in Berlin. Prior to her work at eurotopics she was a news editor with the online editing team of the Tagesspiegel..

Heinz Fischer was elected Federal President of Austria in April 2004, and re-elected for a second and final term in 2010. From 1983 to 1987, he served as the Federal Minister of Science and Research, and from 1990 to 2002, he was the Speaker of the Austrian National Assembly. For several years he also served as the Chairman of the Social Democratic Group in the National Assembly. Born in Graz, Heinz Fischer studied Law and Political Science at the University of Vienna. In 1978, he became an associate professor of political science at the University of Innsbruck and was appointed full professor of political science in 1994. The many honours and awards Heinz Fischer has received throughout his long political and academic career include: the Grand Star of Honour of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria, Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav and honorary doctorates from Tel Aviv University, Israel and the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

Kris Grimonprez holds an M.A. of Laws at Leuven University (Belgium, 1981). From 1981 till 1984, she was a teaching and research assistant at the Leuven Law Faculty. After a long period of experience in the field of education, she has obtained in 2012 a Master in European Law at the University of Luxembourg. Currently, she is a Ph.D. researcher at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance of the University of Luxembourg, where she conducts a legal analysis of the need of EU citizenship education in schools and of its possible promotion by the European Union (law in context). At Leuven University and in some secondary schools, she held workshops on EU values. Her article “The European Dimension in Citizenship Education: Unused Potential of Article 165 TFEU” was published recently in European Law Review (2014, Issue 1).

Ayder Khalilov is a CSO Capacity Building Expert for UNDP project “Democracy and Human Rights in Ukraine” since August 2013. The project supports human rights monitoring missions in Ukraine (especially Eastern Ukraine and Crimea) and supports democratization processes. He holds an M.A. in International Law in Odessa State Law Academy (Ukraine), 2000. For more than fifteen years he has been engaged in civil society and interethnic studies with a particular focus on Crimea. Ayder Khalilov is a qualified civil society expert, trainer/consultant and has conducted numerous expertises, seminars, trainings and consultations for ethnic groups, civil society groups as well as local government, international organisations in Crimea and Ukraine. Ayder Khalilov is actively working in several international programmes (UNDP, OSCE, USAID, and SIDA) on improvement of situation with inter-ethnic tolerance in Crimea.

Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and 2013-14 Richard von Weizsäcker fellow at the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Berlin. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the advisory board of the ERSTE Foundation, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He is also associate editor of Europe's World and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy and Transit – Europäische Revue. From 2004 to 2006, Ivan Krastev has been the executive director of the International Commission on the Balkans chaired by the former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato. He was the editor-in-chief of the Bulgarian Edition of Foreign Policy and was a member of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London (2005-2011). 

Su-Yeon Kim is a lawyer with special interest in election law, international law and civic education. She majored in English Education at Seoul National University and earned an LL.M degree at the Northwestern University School of Law in the United States. She used to work as a journalist at Yonhap News Agency in Seoul, before becoming the director for general affairs at the National Election Commission of the Republic of Korea. Su-Yeon Kim has been engaged in legal affairs such as legislation, legal interpretation and the litigation with regard to election law. She also participated in the international seminar of the Association of Asian Election Authorities and gave presentations in international conference and workshops.

Thomas Krüger is the president of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education. In 1989, Thomas Krüger was a founding member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the former GDR, and he became executive director of the SDP in Berlin (East) in 1990. After a stint as first deputy to the mayor of East Berlin, Thomas Krüger became deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in Berlin (East/West) from 1990 to 1992. From 1991 to 1994 he worked as the city's Senator for Youth and Family Affairs. He was also a member of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, from 1994 to 1998, a board member of the cultural forum of the SPD, and a member of Berlin's International City Commission. Thomas Krüger was appointed president of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education in July of 2000. He studied Theology in Berlin and Eisenach.

Bastian Küntzel is director of Incontro Training. He facilitates learning at the intersection of communication, culture and management, working with a wide range of clients from local non-profit organisations, to the United Nations and the Council of Europe as well as corporate clients. He has been involved in international youth work since 1995 and has been in the Trainers Pools of the Council of Europe’s Youth Department since 2006, where he supports youth leaders in learning about and implementing high-quality non-formal education.

Ulla Kux holds a degree in Political Science. She works as a freelancer in adult education and cultural management in the field of history and remembrance as well as in migration and intercultural affairs, e.g. for the Topography of Terror Foundation. Ulla Kux is a founding member of the Committee for the Youth Encounter Centre at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Museum. From 1997 on, she was heading the intercultural department at Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, where she was responsible for projects and publications on history, diversity and migration society issues. Since 2007, Ulla Kux serves as grant programme developer and coordinator with the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” in Berlin.

Lise Kvande holds a Dr. art. degree and is associate professor in Social Science Education at the programme for Teacher Education at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. She was until recently the head of a Master’s Programme in Social Science Didactics. Lise Kvande and the master students have been involved in the Intercultural Glossary Project since 2010. Her current research deals with the history and understanding of the concept “subject knowledge” in history didactics within teacher education.

Claudia Lenz works as head of Research & Development at the European Wergeland Centre (EWC) and as associate professor at the Norwegian University for Technology and Science (NTNU). After studying Philosophy, Political Science and Psychology, she obtained her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Hamburg. Her fields of research and publication are historical consciousness, memory cultures and memory politics with regard to World War II and the Holocaust. The other fields of expertise are theories and approaches in education for democratic citizenship and intercultural education. 

Andrea Mork holds a Ph.D. in History and Political Science. Since 1993, she is curator at the “Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” in Bonn, Germany. Among other activities, she acts as project leader of the temporary exhibitions "Unequal Sisters. Women in West and Eastern Germany", "Verfreundete Nachbarn. The Relationship between Austria and Germany", "Leni Riefenstahl" and "Scandals in Germany since 1945". Since 2011, she is content coordinator for the permanent exhibition in the House of European History, Brussels.


Jan-Werner Müller is a professor of Politics at Princeton University. His latest publications are “Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe” (Yale, 2011) and “Wo Europa endet: Brüssel, Ungarn und das Ende der liberalen Demokratie” (Suhrkamp, 2013). He writes regularly for The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung and the London Review of Books.  

Rainer Münz is head of Research & Knowledge Center at Erste Group, Non-resident fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, Washington D.C., at the European think tank Bruegel, Brussels, and at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI). He is an expert on population change, international migration and demographic aging. Until 1992, Rainer Münz was director of the Institute of Demography at the Austrian Academy of Science. Between 1992 and 2003 he was head of the Department of Demography at Humboldt University, Berlin. He was visiting professor at several Austrian, German, Swiss and US universities. He currently teaches at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). He has worked as consultant for the European Commission, the OECD and the World Bank. He served as an advisor to several EU member states during their EU presidencies.

Ulrike Niens is currently employed as a lecturer at the University of Würzburg in Germany after working for many years as researcher, lecturer and senior lecturer at psychology and education departments at universities in Northern Ireland. Her research and teaching interests focus on educational and social strategies to promote democratic, inclusive and peaceful attitudes in societies experiencing conflict or division. Her empirical research employs quantitative and qualitative methodologies to investigate issues around educational effectiveness and teachers and students’ views and experiences of educational initiatives for democracy and peace. In her research and publications she examines curricular programmes, like local and global citizenship, and structural initiatives, like integrated education, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

Sigrid Peuker is a communication scientist and works as a facilitator, trainer and lecturer. During several years of work experience as an academic teacher and trainer in citizenship education, she has targeted communication strategies in order to enable learning, understanding, and collaborating. In her work, she mainly uses creative and participative approaches. Since 2000, Sigrid Peuker works with a dialogue technique that was developed by the quantum physicist and philosopher David Bohm. This form of dialogue helps to communicate different perspectives when topics are complex or controversial, but it also helps to explore one's own thinking process with its preconceptions at the same time. 

Mona Qaiser holds a B.A. degree in Social Sciences and is currently finishing her M.A. in Social- und Organisational Paedagogy. She is experienced in project fundings, coordination and evaluations. She has also gained practical experiences in non-formal youth education and work as a freelancing consultant and trainer working for different institutions and NGOs such as Youth in Action, PROFONDO e.V. and Werk-statt-Schule e.V. Mona Qaiser is actively involved in peer projects for cultural and civil education as a member of the German Peer-Network „Young European Professionals“ (since 2006) and as organiser of several international youth meetings. Currently, she is working as the project coordinator of Dialogue at School for Hannover (since 2014).

Nenad Šebek is the executive director of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE). He has worked as a journalist for twenty-six years. Before joining the CDRSEE early 2002, he spent two years in Moscow as correspondent for "The World" (a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH in Boston). He covered the Balkans through the tumultuous 1990s, working first for the BBC and then "The World". Nenad Šebek started his journalistic career in Radio Belgrade and joined the BBC World Service in 1986.

Vedrana Spajić-Vrkaš is professor of the University of Zagreb, Croatia and a lecturer at the University of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She holds courses linking education with human rights, citizenship and interculturalism. In the past, she was a lecturer at the CEU Budapest (Hungary), the University of California, Berkeley (USA), the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica, the University of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), the UNI-ETC Summer Academy in Graz (Switzerland) and the CIVITAS BiH Certification Programme. Her most recent engagement was in joint European M.A. on Management and Counselling for European Education and M.A. on Migration and Intercultural Relations. She has published over 20 books and co-authored the latest Croatian National Programme for Youth, the National Programme for Human Rights and the first Croatian Citizenship Education Curriculum. For almost two decades, she has been working with UNESCO, Council of Europe, CRELL, UNICEF, UNHCHR, ETF, WUS, World Bank, as well as with NGOs in promoting human rights, active citizenship, diversity and peace through education in over thirty countries.

Nick Startin is a lecturer in European Studies at the University of Bath. His research focuses on the impact of Euroscepticism on nation states and on the rise of the Far Right in contemporary Europe. He has a Ph.D. in Politics from Brunel University, an M.Phil in French Studies from Birmingham University and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from the University of Warwick. In 2011 he co-founded the thriving University Association of Contemporary European Studies research network on Euroscepticism and is currently co-editing The Handbook of Euroscepticism, part of the eminent Routledge series. His latest research article entitled “Contrasting Fortunes, Differing Futures: the rise (and fall) of the Front National and the British National Party” was recently published in the Journal of Modern and Contemporary France.

Astrid Terreng studied Corporate Communications at Vienna University of Applied Sciences. She has gained professional experiences in several cultural and educational institutions. Since 2008, she works as programme Officer at OeAD GmbH / National Agency for Lifelong Learning Austria. Under Erasmus+, she focuses on Strategic Partnerships in Vocational Education and Training and ECVET.

Luuk van Middelaar is a Dutch political philosopher and currently the speechwriter and an advisor to the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. He is the author of “The Passage to Europe: how a Continent became a Union” (Yale U.P. 2013, paperback 2014), which since its original publication has received the Socrates Prize for the best Dutch philosophy book, the European Book Prize 2012 and the Prix Louis Marin of the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Luuk van Middelaar published his first book “Politicide” in 1999. He has previously worked as advisor in the European Commission (2002-2004) and the Dutch national Parliament (2004-2006) and as a researcher in Paris (2000-2002) and Amsterdam (2007-2009). He holds a doctorate in political philosophy.

Benedikt Widmaier is a political scientist and pedagogue, director of the Academy of Social and Political Education “Haus am Maiberg” in Heppenheim/Germany, member of the board of “Journal für Politische Bildung“ and the book-series “Non-formale Politische Bildung“ (Wochenschau Verlag). His special interests (and publications) include political education, international youth exchange, active citizenship, social and political participation, European citizenship, remembrance culture.

Manfred Wirtitsch has been head of the Department of Citizenship Education, Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development, Consumer Education, Financial Literacy and Road Safety Education in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture since 2001. One of the major fields of the Department is the implementation of citizenship education in the Austrian School system as a compulsory subject and as an education principle. From 1988 to 2000, Manfred Wirtitsch worked at Department for Social Sciences of the Federal Ministry of Science and Research, focusing on contemporary history, cultural studies, and comprehensive security. After his studies of History and Mass Communication, he worked for two years for the Austrian States Archive as the scientific editor of the Minutes of the Austrian Government of the First Republic.