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Learn. Doubt. Criticize. 

On September 8, 2022, Professor Thomas Gegenuber and Russian peace activist and JKU bachelor artificial intelligence student Daria Kuklina held a workshop on the topic "Organizing for change in a totalitarian institutional context" for 20 festival students from around the world at the JKU / ARS Electronica Festival University. 

Gruppenfoto Festival University mit Thomas Gegenhuber und Daria Kuklina

Professor Thomas Gegenhuber started the workshop by introducing the topic and explaining various strategies civil society can use in democratic contexts to make their voices heard. "However, if a social movement operates in a totalitarian institutional context, it cannot rely on the same strategies as social movements in democratic institutional contexts". To shed light on this situation, Daria Kuklina shared her experiences as a peace activist in Russia. She protested alone with a sign "We for peace". The Russian government's reaction followed promptly: "At that time, Russia had not yet passed a law to discredit the Russian army and spread "fake news." But they tried to accuse me of violating the Coronavirus restrictions." After the presentation, there was a lively discussion between the students and  Daria Kuklina and Thomas Gegenhuber. 

The conclusion of this workshop was demonstrating the importance of proactively participating in civil society and the governance of one's country. As Daria said: "In the end, I want to encourage you to be interested in politics and to be educated. This will help you not to be deceived by those who seek to undermine democracy and human rights and abuse political activities for their own gains. Learn, doubt, and criticize. "

After the workshop, the students shared their positive impressions with Daria on social media. One student wrote: "I am just speechless and grateful. Her words touched me deeply, and I hope there are more people like her." Another student concluded, "Listening to Daria's story and experience has been the most inspiring for me in the past few days."