Bringing top researchers and public intellectuals into a dialogue with high-level policy-makers and politicians to work through some of the most complex policy dilemmas facing open societies in Europe.
The Bridges Project: New policy in an age of uncertainty
European policy-makers are dealing with increasing pressures to manage sensitive policy issues, consider rapidly changing opinions, and re-connect with seemingly unpredictable publics.
Security concerns, the limits and meaning of citizenship and citizenship law, the crises that unfold daily on the borders of Europe, and a challenging economic climate have conspired to create a particularly complex political moment for European nations and their allies. Yet at a time when policy-makers and politicians need to be able to plan long-term and creatively, and respond to citizens’ growing concerns, low levels of trust (on both sides) hinder their progress and undermine their capacity to deal with crises and their capacity to promote open societies in Europe.
Decision-makers shy away from certain progressive policy options for fear of falling foul of a public that can appear to be unpredictable, contradictory or ‘unpleasable’. Citizens pull away from politicians and policy-makers as the latter appear to be increasingly ineffective and disconnected from peoples’ preferences and attitudes. Our diagnosis is that the challenges we face today (from security concerns to the migration crisis) were manifest long before the crisis in Europe, and that their causes run deeper. Our research suggests that policies fail, or are not undertaken, because of this deeply harmful vicious circle: a lack of sound knowledge about how people think, come to hold opinions and make choices on the one hand, and a perception of inefficiency on the other.
The Bridges Project, in partnership with the Open Society European Policy Institute, explores the dynamics of human choice, collective thinking and sentiment, and political behaviour by bringing together ground-breaking researchers and intellectuals into a dialogue with high-level policy-makers and politicians. Read about this dialogue in our Bridges Project publication
The Bridges Project 2015/2016: Focus on migration, integration, diversity
The debate on migration is dominated by alarmist polls and headlines: public opinion is perceived as hostile and resistant to the very idea of migration and integration. As a result, policy makers tend to be paralysed, fearful of the public’s reactions to any new initiative in this field. But public opinion is neither uniform nor static—nor are its dynamics well-understood. This year the Bridges Project focuses on migration, integration and diversity and explores how policy-making can respond more effectively to the challenges European democracies are confronted with.
May 2016: Our Bridges Workshop on Re-framing the Swedish migration debate
In late May, we hosted a workshop with the Swedish Ministry of Justice that helped Swedish policy-makers frame the migration debate differently. Our workshop was designed so as to guide participants from a deeper understanding of the link between language and thought to practical applications of the framing technique.
March 2016: Our Bridges Project Retreat: New interpretations of the Collective
The migration crisis, the vote for Brexit, and illiberal reforms in Central and Eastern European countries are forcing us to ask what the limits of the European Union are. Difficult questions such as “Who belongs? Who is ‘one of us’? And who is this ‘us’?” cannot go unanswered because they underpin our capacity to design European policy. In light of this, we decided to focus our Bridges Retreat 2016 on the theme of The Collective.
Bringing together some of the world’s top policy-makers and politicians with cutting edge researchers and public intellectuals, our retreat took place in Florence – a symbol of the civic imagination – for two days of transformational conversations and debates, to explore a theme that underpins every aspect of decision-making across the globe.
Our speakers included: Susanna Abse, one of the UK’s leading couple and family therapists; Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow; Leading theoretical physicist Jean-Philippe Bouchaud; the Italian Undersecretary for Europe, Sandro Gozi; Co-founder of Wikihouse, Alastair Parvin; the European intellectual Jacqueline Rose; Sweden’s renowned journalist and essayist Göran Rosenberg and one of Germany’s best known sociologists, Harald Welzer.
Read our summary here
Read Policy Bites from the retreat here
December 2015: Bridges Workshop on “How to talk about migration in Europe”
How to talk about migration in Europe? In early December, we hosted a workshop on framing the migration discourse and changing public attitudes.
Read our case study on how to re-frame the migration debate here: Case Study Re-framing the Migration Debate
Earlier Bridges Project Events and Publications
Watch the Bridges Project in action at Schloss Elmau here
The Bridges project has addressed policy issues related to transparency and accountability, xenophobia, extremism, climate change, lessons from the euro crisis, and long-term issues related to inequalities. See a number of insights from our retreat 2015 here:
Counterpoint uses different formats to bring insights on social and cultural dynamics to the attention of decision-makers. One of them is the Bridges Project....
Our understanding of how ‘radicalisation’ works – or indeed what it is, how it affects individuals and group is rooted in a number of...
Recent events in Paris and Copenhagen have reinforced the importance of understanding and responding to public reactions to home-grown terrorism. How is the public...