At the end of January 2019, the decision was made to organize the first congress of Concilium Civitas, i.e. a group of the most outstanding Polish social science scientists working outside Poland at the world’s best universities, such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Oxford etc.
The authors of this initiative were professors: Grzegorz Ekiert – sociologist, Harvard University, Anna Grzymała-Busse – political scientist, Stanford University, Jan Kubik – sociologist, Rutgers University. University of London, Wojciech Sadurski – lawyer, University of Sydney and Jan Zielonka – lawyer, political scientist, Oxford University. On the national side, the idea was coordinated by Jacek Żakowski – head of the Department of Journalism at Collegium Civitas.
In total, as many as 30 Polish scientists from all over the world approved this, and often enthusiastically, 20 of them, of which 20 guaranteed their participation in the First Congress, despite the fact that the events were very tight by the standards of this class of scientists.
Most importantly, however, they all declared to participate in all activities of Concilium Civitas pro publico bono, which in itself seems to be an unprecedented event and worthy of the highest respect.
In its founding manifest, which was then accepted by all other Concilium participants, the Initiative Group declared the following:
We work at various universities far from Poland, but Polish matters are close to us.
Some of us were born and educated in Poland. Some of them entered the circle of Polish affairs differently.
Some of us directly deal with Polish scientific issues. Some are interested in them on the margins of academic work.
We share the feeling that, as researchers of social processes – economic, political, historical – participating in international academic debates on public matters, we should actively and selflessly offer our knowledge to Poland. This is what Concilium Civitas we create – an informal body that we initiate in the spirit of traditional social responsibility of the Polish intelligentsia – is to serve.
Many eminent researchers believe that after years of relative stability the world – including the countries of the democratic West, to which Poland belongs – has found itself in a dangerous turn. We can all get out of it strengthened. But one can also expect a deepening of tensions, crises and conflicts that could at least some societies expose to irreparable losses.
Democratic institutions, nation-states, supranational communities, the rule of law, market and social models, the identities of the communities in which we live and the systems of the bonds that form them face particular challenges.
Political, ecological, economic, social and international crises are the subject of extensive analyzes and debates in many countries that do not provide simple answers or offer easy and painless solutions. Ad hoc answers, which can have serious and long-term effects, are often the result of cursory debate and decision-making processes that are not accompanied by responsible and competent reflection.
Errors made in the process of solving crises can have more serious consequences than these crises themselves. You must do everything possible to avoid such situations.
In the face of these challenges, Poland’s situation is special.
As a young democracy and market economy still struggling with the heritage of the twentieth century, Poland is particularly sensitive to systemic challenges, and Poland’s place in the Western community may be threatened more than the place of the Old West. This means that Poles should be particularly prudent, prudent and careful if they do not want to lose an important part of the achievements of the last three decades.
We treat this situation as a unique commitment to be more active than ever before with our expertise. (…) “.
The first Congress of Concilium Civitas, scheduled for July 9-10, 2019, was organized within five months, from February to June. This meant buying tickets, booking a hotel and board for 20 members of the Concilium Civitas present at the Congress, as well as conducting the event itself consisting of five main panels and several accompanying meetings, including broadcasting the whole to the internet, advertising the event in the media and registering attendees, organizing a group of volunteers from among Collegium Civitas students, providing proper catering, information, security and sanitation services, as well as creating visual identification, Concilium website and its Facebook fanpage.
In addition, even before the Congress, we published 2,000 copies of the Almanac, composed of 23 texts of Concilium participants, which was distributed free of charge to all participants in the discussion panels, is available permanently on the website (also in English) and sent instantly to anyone interested in electronic form as PDF.
All this became possible thanks to the help and openness of Collegium Civitas to this initiative and taking all organizational activities under the professional umbrella of the Collegium Civitas Foundation.
Despite the relatively short time to prepare such a large event and all accompanying activities, it can be objectively said that it was a success. The number of people registering to participate in the Congress (nearly 600 people) significantly exceeded the capacity of the main hall of Collegium Civitas and they had to be organized to retransmit to the next three halls, over 27 thousand people followed her live on the internet at the peak. The great media (Portal Onet, Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita, radio TOK FM et al.) Recorded it (169 publications) extensively and in a tone of high respect and recognition. Also comments on social media (30,000 recipients on Facebook, 21,000 links on Google) went into hundreds and with virtually no exception were highly flattering and sometimes even enthusiastic.
As a result, the initiative was very young and prepared in record time, in total – only in July 2019 – the so-called reaching 1 million 750 thousand people. In marketing terms, this is equivalent to spending nearly PLN 1 million.
Also participating in the Congress members of the Concilium Civitas itself, i.e. scientists perfectly familiar with similar events in the most prestigious academic centers in the world, unanimously assessed that the organizational level and all the logistics of the event were in no way inferior to world standards. In their eyes, Almanach, whose editorial standards they considered as the highest test, was equally high.
Concilium Civitas members in the summary of their First Congress agreed that they transform the initiative into a permanent institution and will meet every year in a similar way, in July, at the hospitable thresholds of Collegium Civitas at the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. Almanac will also be published annually, and the Concilium website and its fanpage on FB will systematically publish information and texts on the scientific achievements of Concilium members and on all other initiatives related to Concilium Civitas.