Łukasz Niparko, a PhD student in the Department of Political Science specializing in human rights and humanitarian affairs, has been awarded the Anthony Jung Award for Best Graduate Student Presentation at the European Studies Conference at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for his research on civil society mobilization in Poland. The Anthony Jung Award recognizes graduate student scholarship that is outstanding in its originality of research, contextualization within current research on topic, effective writing, and contribution in the field of study.
In his award-winning paper, titled “Civil Society Response to the Erosion of Democoracy: A Case Study of Poland,” Niparko examines how Polish activists are mobilizing to support democracy in light of the Law and Justice Party’s (PiS) policy changes, which have decreased Poland’s rankings on key indicators of democracy. He finds that activists mobilized in response to these policies to mitigate the erosion of democracy, and that they are using informal movements and online activism. In doing so, they are redefining and shifting the civil society space in Poland.
Niparko argues that the erosion of democratic governance in Poland since 2015 has not only shrunk Polish civil society, but it has galvanized Polish activists to shift civil society to new spaces, thus evolving it.
“The nexus of the erosion of democracy and shifting civil society is a striking example that societies do not operate between black and white; instead, they operate within the different shades and hues,” he wrote. “The post-2015 erosion of democracy has been pushing the Polish civil society into obscurity. Nevertheless, the erosion of democracy in the short-term facilitates new forms of activism.”
In addition to receiving a cash prize, Niparko’s work will be published in the Selected Proceedings of the 2020 European Studies Conference.