Content of this page

Rethinking Citizenship Education.
A Collection of Voices


Content of this page

Rethinking Citizenship Education.
A Collection of Voices


With the publication “Rethinking Citizenship Education. A Collection of Voices”, we want to support youth workers, trainers, facilitators, teachers, and other professionals in the field of citizenship education in navigating crises and transformations. As such, this collection of practitioners’ voices comes at the right time – when the outbreak of a full-scale war in Europe and multiple crises (inflation, migration, climate change) put our way of life, choices, and practices under heavy scrutiny. The articles draw on professional experience while occasionally addressing the theoretical underpinnings behind the practices. It results from the cooperation of nearly 25 people, including 10 authors. Please scroll further to explore all the articles, learn about the authors, and listen to a whole podcast series that compliments and extends this publication.


It was winter 2021 when we came together and decided: “We need a new handbook about facilitation.” The world had changed so much during the pandemic and related lockdowns. It affected the way we meet, exchange, and learn together. However, the need for citizenship education and critical thinking remained and it had become even more crucial in these times of precarious uncertainty. How could our citizenship education practices be improved in the (post-) Covid world? How could we reach out to and include more people in our efforts, no matter their social strata, geographical location, or educational background? In what way could we combine our facilitation and learning practices with digitalization innovations, while at the same time easing ourselves and our learners back into the offline spaces? These were some of the topics we originally wanted to address in our new facilitation handbook.

It was spring 2022 when we came together once more to revisit the idea: “Is our new facilitation handbook still needed?” The world had changed even more, this time due to the outbreak of a full-scale war in Europe that beggared our belief. All of us were involved in multiple urgent support actions — collecting donations, welcoming refugees, sending goods, equipping shelters, and rescuing art. With all of that going on, putting citizenship education under an analytical lens seemed nonessential. However, the more we continued debating the topic, the clearer it became that the need for an overarching discussion about citizenship education and facilitation never dissipated. If anything, it evolved to include the following dilemmas: Can we ensure the neutrality of the facilitator, given the increasing number of polarizing topics and issues? Is it ethical to be neutral in discussions that cut to the core of human rights and European values? How do we nurture awareness and sensitivity in addressing trauma, both individual and collective, that is likely to increase owing to the war? How do we, as facilitators, care for the wellbeing of the group while not forgetting to be mindful of the need to nurture our resilience? How should we balance offline and online facilitation now that the world has transformed because of multiple lockdowns?

Recognizing the flux nature of the times we were living in, with multiple transformational processes in place, we decided that the best way of addressing these and other questions would be to explore them in a peer group of facilitation professionals. Collecting the emerging insights in articles and podcasts, we wanted to curate a collection of different voices, offering the readers and listeners an album-like experience.

This publication features reflections by authors from Ukraine, Moldova, Germany, Poland, and Romania. The articles draw on their professional experience, while occasionally also addressing the theoretical underpinnings behind the practices. We honored the autonomy of all individual authors in using the language of their choice rather than seeking to uniformize it throughout the collection. We wanted to demonstrate the richness and breadth as well as depth of the field, its approaches, and its vocabulary. For this reason, we’ve maintained their diverse terminology, some of which describes similar concepts.

With this publication, we wanted to support youth workers, trainers, facilitators, teachers, and other professionals in the field of citizenship education in navigating these times of crises and transformation. We are indebted to all the partners who accompanied us in this project, and especially the Eastern Partnership Program of the German Federal Office for their friendly and generous support.

We hope your journey through this collection of different voices about facilitation and citizenship education will be insightful and that it will inspire your thinking and work in these complex times.

Malwina Fendrych, Agata Maziarz, Marischa Weiser (MitOst e.V.)
Alona Karavai, Yulia Sinkevych (Insha Osvita)
Iulia Covaliova, Vladimir Ternavschi (EcoVisio)

The first episode in the second season of our very own podcast horizontal.talks compliments the introductionary article above. Listen now below.
How do we adapt to a rapidly changing world? On this episode of the horizontal talks podcast, this publication’s authors, partners, and reviewers reflect on how they as facilitators adapted to a rapidly changing world.


Photo: Olga Zarko

is a co-founder of the Ukrainian NGO Insha Osvita, which focuses on non-formal civic education and community development. Natalya has been designing and conducting educational programs for different target groups, including youth in rural areas, professional communities, local authorities, and national NGOs. Natalya helps organizations and communities find mutually acceptable solutions by facilitating strategic meetings and establishing internal communications. She has a background in psychology and applies an integrated approach and non-violent communication methods to her work; she also supports facilitators’ professional development as a supervisor. She develops learning methodologies for live and online formats and is a co-author of several handbooks for facilitators.

Photo: Stefanie Loos

is a cultural scientist and freelance facilitator. Rebekka’s work in the field of non-formal education began when she volunteered in the field of intercultural communications by organizing and facilitating workshops for international exchange students. In the past decade, she has conceptualized, organized, and facilitated a variety of educational workshops and projects. Since 2018, she has been an active part of the transnational educational network Understanding Europe of the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe, which deals with democratic citizenship education, youth participation, empowering marginalized groups, and education in rural areas in 14 European countries. Her academic career revolved around educational sciences, postcolonial studies, and anti-discrimination. Currently, she is working on her Master’s thesis on critical youth citizenship education in Europe at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

Photot: Agata Maziarz

is a Berlin-based body-oriented systems therapist and consultant for Embodied Leadership. Her background as a dancer, choreographer, and social activist, combined with her spiritual practice, is woven into the approach she has coined “Radical Presence: moving with playful compassion.” Her work supports organizations and communities to strengthen their resilience and systemic social impact. Her 30+ years of international experience as a movement therapist specializing in trauma has taken her to places like Bosnia-Herzegovina during and after the war. She also worked in psychiatric hospitals and team and community building around embodied social justice issues in the USA and Europe. She works as a therapist and trainer in her private practice (live and online) with individuals, teams, groups, and organizations.

Photo: Martin Poloha

background is in pedagogy, and she has worked as an educator and facilitator since 2010. Her topical expertise includes dialogue, empathic communication, conflict transformation, youth empowerment, and civic and non-formal education. She is passionate about creating safe spaces for authentic exchange and learning together. Most of all, she enjoys working with young people and all those who support their growth and development – trainers, educators, and teachers. Several years ago, Bětka encountered the field of non-violent communication, and it became the essence of her life and her work: she observes how it changes people’s lives, relationships, and communities. The dream of creating a world where everybody’s needs matter drives and motivates her work. In her community work, Bětka supports and co-creates projects and designs programs that empower young people, changemakers, and communities in Poland and Georgia. She feels at home in different places worldwide, and most of all, she enjoys spending time with her children, the greatest teachers in her life.

Photo: Agata Maziarz

is a training designer and facilitator for horizontal school. Marta is an instructional (training) designer, facilitator, and author of books for teachers and facilitators. She has been designing and facilitating group learning processes in non-formal education for 15 years with a focus on civic education and the development of key competencies for the working environments of tomorrow. She also facilitates trainings on intercultural and empathic communication and trainers’ qualification courses, including online facilitation. She is an experienced project manager and team leader who has created spaces for empowering individuals and communities in Georgia, Central Europe, and Germany. She coordinated long-term civic education programs for changemakers, mentors, and professionals from the civil society sector. She has co-authored the series of handbooks and digital materials, as well as handbooks for both teachers and trainers on holistic non-formal education and international teams on intercultural communication. Her passion is designing group learning processes and supporting diverse groups in growing together. Time and again, driven by a curiosity about the participants and their development and passion for developing, she reaches a state of “flow,” the feeling of being wholly absorbed in designing and conducting trainings, responding to the group’s needs, and coming up with formats that will be an unforgettable adventure.

Photo: Andriy Shishman

 is the facilitator of the NGO Insha Osvita and part of the international Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg network. Maria is a former journalist who worked in media for seven years. After that, she began to delve into critical thinking and non-formal education. Maria has experience working with various audiences – from teenagers to combat veterans. She worked as a media literacy program manager at Impact Hub Odessa.

Photo: Patryk Grudziński

is passionate about social and ecological transformation, people, and nature. He works offline, outside, and online as a facilitator in education for sustainable development, international co-creation, and citizenship education. Currently, he is involved in fostering sustainable development, climate actions, and social-ecological transformation at Villa Fohrde, a certified educational house in Brandenburg, Germany. Before that, he worked at the international NGO MitOst, Heidelberg University, and for the German Parliament. Sebastian holds degrees in nature conservation and regional development (MSc) and European Studies (MA). As a facilitator, he has cooperated with diverse organizations such as the European Green Foundation, horizontal school, Goethe-Institut, FU Berlin, and the German-Polish Youth Association. Sebastian enjoys hiking, exploring nature, and spending time with family and friends in Brandenburg, the Caucasus, and the Alps. He co-founded and supported two seminar houses in Armenia and Georgia.

Photo: Vika Shishorina

is a trainer and facilitator of educational processes who creates and conducts programs for young people from the Republic of Moldova. She has a background in journalism and exact sciences. She believes in creating methodologies and writing articles to disseminate and initiate changes on a larger scale than that of her  individual or group work with participants. Over the past few years, Aina has worked extensively on human rights, minority rights, social entrepreneurship, cultural management, critical thinking, and non-formal education. She spent one year as a school teacher, which led her to realize she wanted to work with teachers and contribute to innovation and change in the educational system. Aina accepted the transition to online work during the pandemic, embracing its potential for modernizing youth development work. The war in Ukraine has shaken her perspective. It motivated her to seek a new formula for initiating more sustainable changes in the educational process along with methods that can help participants stay intrinsically motivated, find resources for recovery, and embrace diversity, freedom, and human rights.

Photo: Agata Maziarz

is an experienced project manager and youth mentor with the Gutenberg Youth Organization in Romania. Active for over 10 years in Romania’s youth work and youth empowerment field, together with her colleagues, she has co-shaped a community of more than 350 young volunteers and active citizens: the Gutenberg Network of German-speaking young people from Romania. As an active part of the Gutenberg organization’s executive and consulting boards for the past 10 years, she has overseen the coordination and implementation of more than 110 educational and youth projects with more than 40,000 children and young people as beneficiaries. Oana has mentored and co-founded educational SMEs and social enterprises in Romania, supporting language learning and personal development for children and young people.

Photo: Agata Maziarz

is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Warsaw. As a scholarship holder at Columbia University in New York, she participated in the Historical Dialogue and Accountability program (2012). She is a trainer in international projects on civic education, dialogue, and contemporary history. She has been closely cooperating with Krzyżowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe and Kreisau-Initiative e.V. implementing such projects as “My History – Your History” and “Once Upon… Today in Europe, Entangled History as a Perspective for Non-Formal Education.” Jolanta is the author of the book All Shall Be Different, a series of interviews with human rights advocate, publicist, and pedagogue Halina Bortnowska (2010). She is an NGO expert with 25 years of experience. She worked for several grant programs of private and state institutions, such as  Democracy and Civil Society, Active Citizens, and the Civic Europe Idea Challenge.

Photo: Sárosi Zoltán

is a political scientist interested in the dysfunctions of democracy and with expertise in evaluation, program and process design, human rights, and civic education. Maja holds a PhD in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam. She founded Reflectory, a consultancy that promotes reflective research and practice. As a collective of researchers and practitioners who aim to create a more impactful relationship between research and practice and promote participatory and reflective approaches, the Reflectory team believes that reflection remains one of the most overlooked and underutilised resources.

Concluding remarks

Having been invited to come on board this project as a guest reviewer in its final stage, I was curious to delve into perspectives on citizenship education coming from diverse international practitioners. I commend everyone’s openness to reflect on their own practice as facilitators and trainers, role modeling in the process transparency, accountability, and commitment to lifelong learning. Reading about contributors’ internal processes, self-doubts, dilemmas, and considerations allowed me to be a witness to their vulnerability and courage, which in and of itself was an intellectually humbling experience.

Citizenship education was never a trouble free domain, seeing how it challenged the traditional educational system, power asymmetries, and hierarchies and put under a spotlight and analysis all of society’s flaws, prejudices, and paradoxes. In some European countries, civic education remains an ad-hoc (as opposite to a standardized) practice and in others an elusive goal of a few brave enthusiasts. Given the differences in approaches, the absence of established teacher training programs for civic education across all EU (and neigh-boring) states, and in general the slow pace of reform of educational systems across the continent (where laments about 21st century skills can often be heard, unlike news reports about concrete changes that would allow for the building of those same skills), it is important to recognize the fragility of advancing citizenship education in Europe. This is embedded within the wider context of increasing fragility and uncertainty relating to democracy as a system of governance that people trust and rely on to meet and provide their (basic) needs.

In Europe, where populism has been on the rise in the past decade, it can be expected that civic engagement will thrive – not the pro-democratic, human rights-based kind, but its very opposite. This prospect alone should motivate greater attention, energy, and creativity towards designing citizenship education and civic initiatives that seek to enhance social co-hesion in our polarized communities, media landscape, countries, and regions. The role of non-formal educators, facilitators, and trainers of citizenship education will grow even more relevant due to their guidance and support in making sense of this flawed state of the world, and of our place and responsibilities in it.

With this publication, the publishers wanted “to support youth workers, trainers, facilitators, teachers and other professionals in the field of citizenship education in navigating these times of crises and transformation.” As such, this collection of practitioners’ voices comes at the right time – when multiple crises  (war, inflation, migration, climate change) put our way of life, choices, and practices under heavy scrutiny. Citizenship education of the future will need to draw on and design innovative strategies and methods of enhancing people’s personal and civic responsibility in a world where the things we took for granted over the past few decades are soon set to become the luxuries of tomorrow.

Dr. Maja Nenadović

The last episode in the second season of our podcast horizontal.talks compliments the concluding remarks by Dr. Maja Nenadović. Listen now below.

This episode of the horizontal talks podcast features an interview with project partners, facilitators, community builders, managing
directors, and initiators of educational programs and projects connected to this publication. They reflect on what shifted or changed in their work in citizenship education, and reevaluate their values and mission, in the present and for the future.

Publishing Info

This publication was funded by

… and was implemented by

It has been created in cooperation with

Reviewers and contributors:
Alona Karavai, Maxim Pijevski, Daryna Pyrogova, Monica Tranchych, Andrei Trubceac, Marischa Weiser
Guest reviewer: Dr. Maja Nenadović

Coordinators and publishers:
Malwina Fendrych, Agata Maziarz

Print Design & Infographics:
actu&tactu — Aileen Dietrich & Carlotta Weiser

Web Design: Alex von Freeden –

Illustration: Julia Knyupa

Podcast: Linda Frankenthal

Proofreading: Joice Biazoto, Faith Ann Gibson

Malwina Fendrych, Agata Maziarz, Marischa Weiser (MitOst e.V.); Alona Karavai, Yulia Sinkevych (Insha Osvita); Iulia Covaliova, Vladimir Ternavschi (EcoVisio)

ISBN (online): 978-3-944012-60-5


This season of horizontal.talks is a collection of voices. We are discussing citizenship education in times of change and crisis and are hearing from facilitators from Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and Germany sharing how they perceive the development in recent years, how they deal with change and how it affects their work as facilitators.

How do we adapt to a rapidly changing world? On this episode of the horizontal talks podcast, this publication’s authors, partners, and reviewers reflect on how they as facilitators adapted to a rapidly changing world.

Grab a tea and listen to Betka and Christa sharing their experience and observations of how working in teams has changed in the last years. How do we want to hold spaces and with whom? And how can we benefit from diverse groups and different skills each team member has to offer, and at the same time don’t forget to take care of us individually and as a group?

Join this short exercise to become more aware of what your body needs at this moment and return to your grounded center. Thanks to Christa Cocciole for guiding us through this exercise. This exercise is also available in Romanian, Ukrainian, German and Polish.

Take a breath to be more present in the moment. Join Christa Cocciole while she guides us through an exercise that helps us to listen more carefully to our body.

This episode of the horizontal talks podcast features an interview with project partners, facilitators, community builders, managing directors, and initiators of educational programs and projects connected to this publication. They reflect on what shifted or changed in their work in citizenship education, and reevaluate their values and mission, in the present and for the future.


We really hope you find this publication and the accompanying podcast series useful. But we would love to hear from you!

What are your main takeaways? Which parts did you enjoy the most? What aspects would you like to know more about? What could we have done differently?

Please send us a quick message to!

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