The Open Society Foundations are concerned that intolerance and populism are growing in Europe, constituting a serious threat to the openness of our societies and democratic governance. Public discourse in EU member states is becoming increasingly intolerant towards vulnerable groups and minority communities, and extremist politics are gaining traction in several European countries. At the same time, national governments, civil society, and other stakeholders have not found adequate responses to counter these tendencies.
The Open Society Foundations want to develop new approaches and pilot projects to counter these trends. One aspect that has been insufficiently explored is how far these new approaches can gain from comparing differences between various European countries. To explore these connections, the Think Tank Fund’s „Working Together for Tolerance in Europe“ program will support projects that embody joint initiatives of think tanks in at least two EU member states combining comparative research, advocacy, and communication efforts to tackle various forms of intolerance.
Eligibility Criteria
Only applications from a group of at least two think tanks, with at least one partner from countries that were EU members already in 2003, and one partner from those member states that joined subsequently are eligible. In substantiated cases groups of think tanks not complying with this rule may request an exception. The joint application (sufficient at the stage of full proposal) has to be supported by a partnership memorandum, agreement, or supporting letter signed by the official signatory of the respective organization(s). The grant contract will be concluded with the one leading organization of the consortium/group.
Purpose and Priorities
This call is for proposals focusing on one or more of the following issues:
Attitudes: research and monitor trends in public and elite attitudes to build a clearer picture of the beliefs, values, fears and demands that underlie intolerant and xenophobic attitudes. Examples include qualitative and quantitative research (including polling) to explore if views and attitudes have really changed or whether intolerant behavior is simply more manifest and publicly reported now; to identify how best to support open societies in this rapidly evolving situation; to support advocacy for tolerance in open societies; to research and experiment with cross-border principles that can change attitudes in several societies.
Policies: analyse and compare national and EU policies aiming at fostering tolerant and diverse societies, projects could look at their effectiveness, the resources EU member states and the EU institutions have to carry them out, and how to develop advocacy campaigns to influence these policies.
Actors: analyse extremist political parties and movements. Examples include identifying common features of intolerant electoral platforms; analysing political party finances and exploring the connections of extremist parties to expose possible links with the leadership of nondemocratic countries and methods to counter them.
Multiplicators: identify early adopters of new ideas, i.e. who is likely to pick up new ideas and replicate them, especially in relation to the impact of new media and new ways ideas are being disseminated.
We will support evidence-based, policy-relevant research combined with comprehensive and feasible advocacy and communication strategies. Proposals should outline the pathways of change, including channels of influence, and identify specific targets and actors of the advocacy campaign (legislation, regulation, policy or politician, political or administrative body).
They must also clearly identify whether the advocacy efforts will be similar in different European countries, how the project cooperation will have an influence in both of these regions, and possibly also on the EU level. Where contexts differ, a detailed advocacy plan or realistic estimate of impact should be established. Where comprehensive advocacy is not feasible, applicants must suggest alternative approaches of creating impact. In order to strengthen the advocacy approaches of the projects, the Think Tank Fund particularly encourages proposals linking think tanks to advocacy and watchdog NGOs.