In Overig by Friso

Thursday 21 June, town hall (stadhuis), Arnhem, The Netherlands


13.00 – 13.15 h  
13.15 – 14.15 h       
14.30 – 15.30 h       
15.30 – 16.00 h       
16.00 – 18.00 h        

18.00 – 19.00 h    
19.00 – 20.30 h  
20.30 – 21.00 h   

Opening Dialogue
Keynotes / TED talks
Workshops / Presentations
Break   –   Poster Session
Workshops / Presentations
Panels / Dialogue Tables
Evening meal   –   Poster Session
Media Expert Session
+ Future Planning Session
Closing Panel


10.00 – 12.00 h a pre-conference dialogue meeting will be organized particularly for those
participants who have traveled to Arnhem the night before.


We start with these questions: To what extent is the current society polarized? What are the dynamics of polarization? And how can one best convey his message in a polarized society?

  • How different parts of the population see the reception of refugees, and about communication strategies in a polarized society
    Jorrit Hoekstra, researcher and coordinator of Stay Human. About the results of the Stay Human research project ‘National Monitor on Polarization and the Image of Refugees’ (carried out by IPSOS).
  • What can we learn about polarization from the Banlieues de Paris
    Luuk Slooter, researcher at Uglobe, the Utrecht Center for Global Challenges, Utrecht University. Did research for his PhD among youngsters in the Banlieues, the French suburbs, how they respond differently to the negative image people have of them (from radicalizing to combating the negative stereotype). About how both parties at polarization react to each other.
  • It’s getting hot in here: On the changing societal climate and attitudes toward refugees in Germany and why we should also be aware of attitudes toward other societal groups
    Jonas Rees, researcher at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, Bielefeld University. Talks about results from representative surveys in Germany, shows that hostile attitudes toward different societal groups are related, and argues that polarization will focus on dominant discussions such as the situation of refugees but will also affect seemingly unrelated attitudes that are currently not part of the discussion.

(We hope to announce other speakers soon)


We continue with trying to answer these first questions. But we also put new questions like:
What approaches and methods can be used to depolarize, to change attitudes, and promote dialogue? Which elements of various related methods are useful?


  • Strategies to combat prejudices and discrimination
    Annemarie van Hinsberg, program coordinator, and Ikram Taouanza, researcher, KIS / Movisie. Workshop based on research about (the conditions of) the effectiveness of interventions (such as dialogue meetings) meant to counter prejudices and discrimination.
  • The existential problems and pain behind radicalization/polarization
    Birgit Pfeifer, senior lecturer Youth and Safety, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, and Practor Appreciating differences, Verus. She did research into motives of school shooters. Presentation about existential problems behind radicalization, and about value driven dialogue.
  • Democracy asks for taking seriously minority viewpoints
    Fanny Matheusen, Belgian trainer and team coach (Goesthing). Her special area of interest lies in intercultural communication and intercultural competence, conflict management and (ecological) transition. She is a practitioner, instructor and supervisor in the Deep Democracy Lewis method, and will present a Deep Democracy-workshop.
  • And how does it feel? Reversing discrimination as a learning experience
    Şeydâ Buurman-Kutsal, supervisor, consultant, trainer ‘Brown Eyes Blue Eyes’ (anti-racism method Jane Elliott), Betzavta method (‘Miteinander’), and diversity. Will present a ‘Brown Eyes Blue Eyes’ workshop.
  • Depolarizing is about handling emotions
    Ulrike de Ponte, intercultural psychologist, OTH Regensburg, and convenor of the EFPA Board on Cultural and Ethnic Diversity. She conducts research into intercultural psychology. Her workshop is about dealing with / working on intense emotions in confrontational (eg polarized) interactions.
  • Youngsters, distinguishing ideals from ideals
    Expertise Center Stable Society, Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. Workshop on countering extreme ideals among youngsters. 

Presentations / panels

  • Michèlle Bal, social psychologist, Assistant Professor, Utrecht University. Does research into social (in)justice, into processes such as discrimination, radicalization and polarization.
  • Matthias Quent, director of the Institut für Demokratie und Zivilgesellschaft, Jena. His work and research is about social movements, as right-wing populism and extremism, and about radicalization processes, and racism.
  • Ulrike Schuhmacher, researcher, Technical University Dresden. She is one of the researchers of the large research project Krisen-Dialog-Zukunft, within the research focus Strengthen cohesion in times of crisis and upheaval. Her expertise is also on community organizing.
  • Jonas Slaats, Belgian philosopher, theologian, anthropologist, social activist, writer (eg for Nieuw Wij). Rooted in Christian tradition himself he has studied and written about the Islamic world of thought. He works at Kif Kif a movement fighting against discrimination and for more equality.
  • Toon van Meijl, professor of cultural anthropology, Radboud University Nijmegen. Did research on cultural identity and self in multicultural societies. He is an expert on the dialogical self-theory.


Several organizations and persons active in the field of depolarizing activities and other related relevant initiatives are invited to participate in a poster session and information market.

For now we announce just one presentation: Research project by Ron van Wonderen, Verweij Jonker institute, on a model of handling tensions in a polarized society at the local level of cities and neighbourhoods, presented by master student Julia Marthaler.


To offer further opportunity to all participants to contribute themselves to the exchange of knowledge and ideas different dialogue roundtables will be organized around specific themes. The theme will be introduced by short talks of expert but then every participant can have his share on the dialogue around aspects of the theme as analysis, interventions and concrete ideas for change

At the tables participants can also write down their questions, comments and ideas, to discuss right away as well as to be assembled for the final wrap up of the results of the conference. At each table a facilitator will support the continuing dialogue process around that table.

Themes at the dialogue tables

  • Prevention of polarization. Citizenship education at school, strengthening of democracy and participation at local level, community building strategies.
  • Methods for handling differences. Handling diversity and cultural differences, differences of opinion. Forms of dialogue and other interventions.
  • Communication strategies promoting values. On bridging differences while promoting fundamental rights and values and emancipatory goals.
  • Polarization in national politics, the role of social media and public media. Synergizing between opponents, on manoeuvring between emotionalizing and rational arguments.


What is the role of the public media at polarization? How can it be promoted that public media pay attention to the complexity of social issues, offer a multitude of perspectives, and support citizens and politicians in a societal dialogue process aiming at well-considered solutions.

  • Iva Krtalic, Head Integration and Cultural Diversity, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, about the role of the public media in the polarization, the criticism of the right, and diversity in the public media.
  • Zoë Papaikonomou, research journalist, journalism lecturer, owner of Diversity Media. Wrote with Annebregt Dijkman the recently published ‘Do you have an angry Muslim for me?’, about editorial cultures and inclusive journalism.
  • And with other journalists and programme-makers that are invited to participate in this meeting.


In this session we will assemble the findings and ideas of this work conference. Clustering them and we want to translate them into concrete plans to develop further networking and cooperation activities.
The large Sietar Europe 2019 Congress in Mechelen, Belgium, 27 May – 2 June 2019, helps us to set some concrete goals. We plan to organize during the congress a follow-up meeting on the theme of depolarization and dialogue. At Arnhem Sietar Nederland will start one or more working groups to organize intermediate meetings and prepare the meeting in Mechelen.
In the closing panel we will wrap up all results including those of the Media Expert Meeting. 

Assistance to the conference is being provided by the FRA, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, that eg opposes hate and smear campaigns in the media.