Exploring intergenerational organisations and engaging youth in foresight

29th November 2018 by Vicky Tongue

A future scenario workshop at our Global Perspectives 2018 conference explored what an international civil society organisation (ICSO) in 2030 successfully ‘Engaging a #New Generation’ would look like. The group predicted a very different global environment of megatrends with great impact and influence on young people. Although only 12 years’ away, there was systemic and rapid change in social and political organisation, technology and data-driven inequality, precarious work/economic situations, and intense climate change, antibiotic resistance and genetically modified food systems.

In this context, the successful CSO of 2030 would have characteristics fundamentally different from the mindsets, skills, structures and ways of working today. Radical and cause-driven, it would be focused on campaigns, advocacy/policy and amplifying what others are doing, with devolved peer-to-peer accountability and consensus decision-making communities both internally and with supporters.

One clear idea was intergenerational ICSOs working on major complex multi-generational issues. We imagined an organisation where all staff – regardless of age and number of years of professional experience – know how to catalyse change, engage the public, and mentor others. This includes multi-directional mentoring across a four- or five-generation workforce, in an organisation where everyone receives leadership training. With CSOs’ professional and technical staff expertise also seen as available through a `draw down´ service to partners, this would also increase in importance.

Undoubtedly, the ICSO of the future will need to expertly balance experience and youth for powerful leadership and ‘manage the intergenerational mix’. There is some general analysis out there but not much detailed exploration for our sector in particular. How much are organisations thinking about this and preparing internal scenarios, tools and processes to make this an easy and effective transition? We may explore this further with the Global Heads of Division in 2019, which will include HR Directors for the first time. Please get in touch if you are already working on this.

A number of ICSOs in the foresight community Scanning the Horizon are experimenting with or interested in engaging young audiences in developing future scenarios. The purpose of which is to inform their current cycles of organisational strategic planning. In a recent webinar organised by the Centre, Amnesty International shared insights from their first ever youth futures workshop within the organisation’s 2018 Global Youth Summit, with 100 young volunteers and activists. An initial round of internal thinking narrowed down the strategic topics to explore in the scenarios, including technology and human rights, economic inequality and cultural power. In groups, the young people then answered three overall questions:

  • why they chose that particular theme,
  • how the theme affects young people, and
  • what Amnesty International should do differently to address the human rights issues in that area.

The participants then created the vision of the world they wanted to see in 2030, completing a blank newspaper front page as the framework to define the future headlines they could help shape. The practical exercise enabled them to identify influencing strategies for different actors under each theme, make connections between topics, and gave them the confidence to replicate the exercise in their own peer networks. Amnesty International now plans to repeat this targeted process with more young people in regional spaces.

As UNICEF’s ‘Adolescents shaping their future: a foresight toolkit’ notes, involving young people in foresight process is important for a number of reasons, including ‘living with the consequences’ of current decisions and policies longer than those making or planning them in the present. Foresight does not require accurate predictions, but rather diverse and participatory generation of ideas about multiple potential futures. This should make it a relatively exciting and easy entry point to include young people, and increase open and more democratic exchanges, including where young people ‘have limited say in their lives or community affairs’. This could include some ICSO processes!

Engaging youth in developing future scenarios might be a first step towards ultimately making foresighting processes fully intergenerational as well. In developing a preferred vision of the future and how to get there, recognising and incorporating different perceptions of time is important. How far away does 2030 seem to people of different ages and stages of their lives? Integrating varied notions of time may highlight different senses of urgency or perceived levels of agency to change situations, and shake things up beyond incremental or even cynical thinking, to a more ambitious and optimistic outlook of what can be achieved. Appreciating different temporal dimensions may be important in intercultural foresight processes as well.

It is clear that there is both appetite and need to explore thinking on intergenerational working and future strategy development processes, and how ICSOs can implement these in more systematic and practical ways. The conversations will continue with our communities and through our convening in 2019.

Vicky Tongue

Vicky Tongue was the Centre’s Head of Futures and Innovation/Scanning the Horizon project manager from 2018-2022, leading the Centre’s futures strategy and collaborative trends scanning community. In this role, Vicky wrote and edited many of the Centre’s Scanning Sector Guides and Civil Society Innovation reports.

“Power is the energy that flows; governance is the conduit through which it moves.”

27th November 2018 by Ed Boswell

In 2017, the Centre reported the results of a survey that revealed widespread dissatisfaction among ICSO leaders with their existing governance structures and mechanisms, as well as with the current balance of power within their organisations. Among the most frequently mentioned frustrations were slow decision-making, nagging questions of legitimacy and poor execution—and all of this despite the fact that some of these same organisations had engaged in governance reforms over the previous two years to address their issues.

Wolfgang Jamann, Centre ED, presenting at Global Governance Lab

This past September, leaders from eight ICSOs met in Berlin for the better part of three days to focus on how to best address these frustrations within their own institutions. At this Centre-sponsored Global Governance Lab, the participant cohort embodied a range of roles from board members to CEOs, from deputy secretary generals to program and governance directors. Collectively, they represented federations, confederations and unitary governance structures; faith-based and secular organisations; and humanitarian, human rights and development-focused INGOs, and together they possessed almost two centuries of experience in the civil society sector, with much of that time spent in leadership positions. Most of the participants represented organisations that were actively considering changes or updates to their current governance model and processes.

Participants discuss a power shift in the organisation at Global Governance Lab

The starting point for the group’s exploration was to assess in what specific ways the formal and informal power dynamics and governance structures currently at play either helped or hindered the realisation of their organisation’s intent. While each organisation had its own unique answers to this question, a number of themes emerged across the ICSOs. In fact, despite differences in formal governance structures and processes, the issues identified by the leaders in the Lab were strikingly similar across the cohort. Some of the common themes that emerged were as follows:

  • The impact that an organisation can potentially have in the world is compromised when its power dynamics and governance structures are not aligned with the achievement of the intent of the institution.
  • Power arrangements and governance structures that may have worked well at one point in the organisation’s past are often not the same as what is required in the current circumstances.
  • Informal power often undermines formal structures and processes, even well-established ones.
  • Money and access to resources (like funders) are major determinants of who has a voice and influence.
  • Money creates uneven power relations not only between organisations and their funders, but also within organisations, when financial contributions of one member organisation result in greater decision-making or voting power.
  • Long tenure with an organisation combined with a loyal network of relationships can also create a strong base of power and influence for individual actors.
  • Those who have decision-making power are often not the same as those with the power to implement, block, or ignore strategic decisions that have been made.
  • Power is asymmetric—that is, it takes more power to create and build momentum for action and change than to destroy or block necessary action and change.
  • Any significant power shifts and/or meaningful governance reforms almost always require that some individuals and/or parties give up or share power that they have long held or protected.
  • Hence, modifications to power dynamics and governance structures require committed and courageous leadership to withstand the inevitable resistance to change.

Interestingly, while all the organisations who participated in the Lab identified specific changes they needed to make to better achieve their organisation’s intent, the changes that were most frequently highlighted did not involve transforming the formal governance structures or processes. Instead, their recommendations most often cited shifting the informal yet potent power dynamics in their organisations. We will cover these specifics in our next instalment of this blog.

Ed Boswell, CEO and Co-Founder, Conner Advisory

(Along with Wolfgang Jamann, Ed co-designed and co-facilitated the Global Governance Lab.)

Ed Boswell

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Connor Advisory

With more than four decades of experience helping senior leadership teams around the globe execute major transformational changes, Ed has worked with nonprofits and NGOs, as well as companies in the pharmaceutical, federal government, financial services, and professional services sectors. His work has reinforced to him the role character plays in successfully executing significant changes. Prior to joining forces with Daryl Conner in 2014 to form Conner Advisory, Ed was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where he led the U.S. People and Change consulting practice. In this role, Ed was responsible for leading a team of practitioners who helped clients drive large-scale strategic change, as well as transforming HR into a more effective function and optimizing organizational talent. A recognized leader in the field of transformational change, Ed is a frequent speaker on issues relating to leadership, strategy execution, and organizational performance. He co-authored Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution (Harvard Business Press, 2010), which provides a blueprint for leaders who are executing transformational change in their organizations. Ed earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, he also received The Wharton School Certificate in Business Administration.

OECD at Global Perspectives 2018

20th November 2018 by Chiara Di Stefano and France Charlet

Today, young people are digital nativesused to high-speed, instantaneous interactions on social media and other online platforms. Many established organisations  like the OECD  face a challenge: to be more agile in listening to young people so their vision and their needs are reflected in our work.  

The OECD goes to Global Perspectives every year to  hear from civil society organisations active across the globe and understand the main concerns of the people they aim to serve. It’s a space where we can speak face-to-face with people, gather insights from current civil society engaging with young people and think about ways to do better in our own organisation.  

This year, Global Perspectives was also an ideal setting for tackling a subject at the core of the OECD’s current agendathe future of work and skills. This conversation has many stakeholders, but it’s particularly important to grasp the next generation’s needs and concerns so our policy recommendations are fit-for-purpose. 

In a workshop, OECD and Global Perspectives participants discussed what it takes to deliver an inclusive world of work – and the implications for civil society.  Civil society organisations care a lot about their role as employers, youth mobilisers and policy shapers. In addition to helping amplify the voices of workers and future workers, part of the discussion focussed on how CSOs need to cultivate the right skills and the culture in their own organisations. 

Thanks to the International Civil Society Centre, we also heard from young people in other workshops. What we heard encouraged us to move beyond the question of “how the OECD engages young people to “how young people can engage and activate the OECD.  Youth is not a group “to reach”. They are essential partners for anyone – including organisations – who want to change the world. The OECD is serious about  delivering “better policies for better lives”, and we are excited to learn from and partner with civil society organisations for greater and more positive impact on the world we share. 






Chiara Di Stefano

Public Affairs Manager at OECD


Chiara Di Stefano, public affairs manager leading relationships with civil society organizations. Previously worked in Brussels both in the private sector and European Commission. Studied in the UK, France and Italy.

France Charlet

Campaigns manager at the OECD


Campaigns manager at the OECD. France previously led international advocacy campaigns for Save the Children, World Vision and other international and national NGOs. She worked in London, Bangkok and Brazzaville and specialised in building institutional capacity for campaigning through fundraising, training and strategy development.

Forus consults on the future of civil society and youth engagement at international civil society event in Berlin

15th November 2018 by Deirdre de Burca and Magda Toma

This blog entry was originally published on Forus-international.org. All rights reserved. 

Members of the Forus secretariat recently attended the annual Global Perspectives event in Berlin, Germany from Oct 31st- November 2nd  2018, organized by the International Civil Society Centre (More information about the event).

The theme of this year’s conference was “Engaging a New Generation”.

Forus hosted a “Campfire Session” during the conference called “What future for civil society and how important is youth engagement?” This session provided an opportunity for Forus to begin its planned consultation on the future of the sector with wider civil society, as part of the roll-out of its new Pilot International Initiative (2018-2020) Building essential infrastructure for the NGO sector & encouraging the emergence of supportive ecosystems“.

This initiative was presented and strongly endorsed by Forus members during its General Assembly in Santiago Chile this year. The Forus International Initiative envisages an initial, broad process of consultation with civil society globally over the coming two-years on the question of how the sector can be further developed and strengthened in the future.

The title of the Forus campfire session during the conference was “What future for civil society and how important is youth engagement?”. The session began with a short presentation of some of the major challenges currently facing civil society in a rapidly changing external environment.

The challenges discussed included:

  1. The increase in the number of new social movements and the tendency of young people to gravitate towards these movements rather than towards NGOs ; 
  2. The increase in the number of illiberal and authoritarian governments around the world, resulting in a shrinking space for civil society ; 
  3. The new demands being placed on civil society, as a key stakeholder in the implementation of Agenda 2030 ; 
  4. The increase in public demand for greater accountability, transparency and good governance from civil society and NGOs in particular ; 
  5. The fact that CSO funding sources and modalities continue to be project-based.

The group discussion that followed was lively and wide-ranging. 

It yielded the following conclusions:

A broad and inclusive definition of civil society is needed

  • The definition of “civil society” used in these discussions should be broad and diverse enough to be inclusive of all civil society actors, from the least to the most organised ends of the spectrum. The definition should include spontaneous and distributed social movements, small community and grassroots organisations, not-for-profitsocial enterprises and co-operatives, small and large NGOs, international civil society organisations, trade unions etc.

Build relationships between NGOs and social movements

  • More sustained efforts should be made to do outreach and build relationships between NGOs and social movements, which should result in greater mutual understanding and a better appreciation of the “added value” of each and the potentially complementary roles they can play in bringing about badly needed social and political change. Ideally, funding could be provided by NGOs to social movements for the achievement of broad aims (for example – to create public awareness about the need for climate action) and without too many conditions attached. The role of NGOs could be to broadly monitor progress on the achievement of the objective set. In this way social movements can be resourced to do what they do best without too many onerous reporting requirements considering their lack of formal organisation.

Recognise each other’s added value        

  • CSOs with more formalised organisational structures (eg NGOs) should not try to impose their agendas on the social movements when collaborating with them. Instead, NGOs should play a more supportive “background” role and allow the social movements to do what they do best (eg mobilising and public campaigning). NGOs should largely play an “enabling” role where social movements are concerned and make their resources and expertise available in a non-directive way. The added value of traditional NGOs and ICSOs is seen to lie more in long-term engagement and advocacy directed at governments and institutions.

Create “youth-friendly” spaces within NGOs and trade unions

  • NGOs, trade unions and other CSOs with more formal organisational structures should create “youth-friendly spaces” within their structures where young people’s voices can be heard and be allowed to influence discussions and decision-making. At present many NGOs and trade unions are organised in such a way that there is no opportunity for young people to engage or be heard, and the language used by these organisations is not at all youth-friendly.

Privilege the resourcing of small flexible local CSOs

  • Small, flexible, local CSOs should get much more attention from donors and funders than they have to date. Large institutional NGOs have tended to receive more government attention and resources, although locally-based civil society organisations including peer to peer organisations can often be more effective at representing the needs of local communities and can engage young people more effectively. Many large traditional ICSOs in particular, especially those involved in direct service delivery, are seen to face the possibility of increasing irrelevance over time.

Ensure a good inter-generational mix in the staffing of CSOs

  • The importance of having a good inter-generational mix in civil society organisations was emphasised as CSOs were felt to have a very different set of values and outlook if older people were at the top of these organisations.

Large international CSOs should regularly revisit their core mission and purpose

  • The larger the NGO the more risk there is that they will become overly – institutionalised and bureaucratic. It was felt to be very important for ICSOs to revisit their core founding values on a regular basis and to remind themselves of what motivated their creation in the first place. It was considered very important for ICSOs, in particular, to regularly review and update if necessary their core mission and purpose and ensure that the functioning of the organisation remains fully consistent with the core mission. Large CSOs should be willing to “re-invent” themselves if necessary based on these assessments.

Progressive CSOs should learn important lessons from populists

  • Progressive civil society should learn from the tactics of the populists and use them to advance progressive causes. This is often difficult however as populists try to present simple solutions and responses to complex problems. Explaining the complexity of some of the world’s problems often results in a weaker message. Progressive civil society needs to reflect on and develop better strategic influencing strategies.

Mobilize the masses so that a critical tipping point can be reached

  • Public awareness-raising remains a very important activity. There is a need to mobilise the masses and promote positive values so that a “tipping point” can be reached. CSOs should unite more around public awareness-raising work.

ICSOs should Identify risks and engage in intelligent risk taking

  • International civil society organisations in particular need to carry out risk identification which will allow them to engage in “intelligent risk-taking”. They need to learn to work with other ICSOs and other actors and to build strong national and local organisations. There should be an emphasis on employing local staff and building strong and relatively autonomous local systems of governance.

Best practices and solutions from the Global South should be identified

  • The identification of best practices and solutions can come from the Global South. A crisis of funding can often provide an opportunity and can help to identify new and more effective ways of working.

The discussion on the future of civil society and the engagement of youth during the Campfire Session was very stimulating and wide-ranging.

Forus intends to carry out a series of such consultations at upcoming international civil society events over the next 12 months.

Deirdre de Burca

Forus Advocacy Co-ordinator

Forus International

Deirdre de Burca currently works as the Advocacy Co-ordinator with Forus (formerly known as the International Forum for National NGO platforms). Forus is a global network of 69 national development platforms and 6 regional coalitions. Deirdre previously worked as Director of Advocacy for World Vision's Brussels office. She was also a member of the EU Steering Committee of Concord's Beyond 2015 EU Taskforce which played an essential role in influencing the position of the EU and its Member States during the UN negotiations on Agenda 2030. Deirdre was one of the founding members of SDG Watch Europe - a broad alliance of European civil society organisations established in June 2015 and which works to ensure the full implementation of Agenda 2030/the SDGs by the EU and its Member States.

Magda Toma

Forus Director

Forus International

Magda Toma is the Director of Forus (former IFP), a global network of civil society, bringing together 69 national development NGO platforms and 6 regional coalitions. Magda studied Political Science, European Affairs and Development Cooperation. She specialized in the relationship between the European Commission and development NGOs. Before working for Forus, she worked for CONCORD Europe, for the European Commission - DG EuropeAid and for B & S Europe, among others.

Thanks to all who participated at Global Perspectives 2018! – Videos and Photos

6th November 2018 by Thomas Howie

This year’s Global Perspectives was a dynamic and lively event about “Engaging a #NewGeneration”. While we mull over what this year’s event means, you can check out our photos and videos by clicking on the links below. We’ll be back next week with more detailed reflections.

Thomas Howie

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.

Jessy James LaFleur – The Point of No Return, slam poem for Global Perspectives 2018

1st November 2018 by Thomas Howie

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Ladies, Gentlemen!
Welcome to the point of no return!
Can you hear the sirens off in the distance?”
Hoping they don’t come your way”
While you’re tryna maintain, keep up resistance”
I can see you hiding off in the shadows of the masses”
I can hear them whispering your name
How they order you to ignore this storm upon us
Always tryna push you towards fortune and fame
We’re all same, while being different,
but never different enough, that’s why we keep striving for perfection!
We’ve been forming the wrong habits, throwing caution to the wind,
recklessly acting like invincible heroes, while destroying our entire being.
And the struggle is real!
We’re even struggling to feel real emotions, struggling to co-exist
The frown on my face has gotten larger, while my smile has nearly disappeared. ”
Here we are, at the point of no return!
The dead end, a blind alley.
Blinded by the shiny billboards and wrong promises
I wish I could scream at your ignorance:”
God Damn’it! Look at me when I talk to you!
If you can’t look at me, how could you look at yourself!
When eyes are closed, we can’t see the chaos floating around us
When eyes are closed, we can still pretend that all this is not real!
How convenient, that there’s a digital universe we can travel to,
when reality gets too hard to accept
where we can hide away in a virtual, glittery-unicorn-world instead!”
Where you scroll, scroll, scroll, until you can’t scroll no more”
And you drown, drown, drown in an ocean of metaphors
You drown in solutions, that won’t solve any problems
You’re swallowed by the products that you’re consuming
It has never been you, it has always been them!
Our heads feel strangled by a million impressions
We’re tired of not being able to make a change
We’re lost in this huge sea of information” ”
Ladies and Gentlemen:
An entire generation suffering from desperation! ”
Airplanes, chemtrails, clickbait, hashtags ”
inhale, exhale, yoga mats
Black lives matter, metoo-movements,
Gender, LGBTQ
Plastic bottles, plastic body, micro plastic, plastic lobby
Sobbing children, desperate mothers
wars, weapons, little brothers
Army, killing, refugees, sea watch, watching, what I see
Lampedusa, middle sea, tons of loses, middle east.
Islam, Koran, God or Allah
Amen, Om, Shalom, Inshallah
Pretzels, Pork or Chicken Korma
Karma, Trump, Barack Obama.
We can do it, no we can’t
parents, progress, loans and grants
broken hopes and promises, bank accounts and insurance
credits, studies, student fees
Work or university
Heal the world, destroy the system
feminism, demonstration, ”
right wing, left wing, extremism
many questions, answers missing.
Guessing, knowing, building, growing
slow food, smoothies, kind of boring.
Nature, vegan industry, palm oil, poison, eating meat
Global warming, too much heat, immigration, time to leave.
Holding on or letting go, fighting, burn-out, alcohol.
Drugs and party, work and travel, buying houses, moving, settle
Tinder, Love, monogamy, relationships are not for me.
Sleepless nights, depressing mornings
Netflix, youtube, beauty goals,
Insta, Facebook,
never sober, pull the trigger, shoot,
Game over!”
I’m losing my sanity in all this chaos
My brain is fucked, my head explodes
Here we are, at the point of no return
Heaven is a ghost town and this world is gonna burn.
We’ve been up so high and now we are free falling”
We were dancing on the rooftops thinking we’d be kings and queens by morning
Balancing between white privilege and black discrimination
Challenged by this game of chess looking for future strategies”
I guess we didn’t hear that warning”
We were so sure that we’d be kings and queens by morning
But we’re not, we’ll be a lost generation if we don’t raise our voices
Stop tweeting little birdie bird, you gotta start roaring.
Lost in this fog of exploitation
Exploring the world, exploring different nations
Welcome to the new age,
it’s a revolution I suppose
We might be facing challenges,
the biggest is to mobilise our youth
They are are covered in the mess that politics have made
We are still choking on the lies that we’ve been told
This world traffics in the blackest of markets”
Trading misery like diamonds and gold
Cold-hearted propaganda, not a hijab leads to suicide attacks
All the fears and all the hate that we exchange”
For applause and voided praise
are turning this age into a nightmare from hell.
What will be left of us, when we have only our souls left to sell.
This generation is underrated, underestimated,
Too many doubts, too many choices
but you haven’t failed
We could only ever fail ourselves
So let’s reclaim our voices,
and build a peaceful army lined up like books on a shelf, filled with knowledge
Looking for dialogues in 6500 various languages,
Whoever is trying to silence you is always fearing your existence
I want to believe in a collaborative society
I want to believe in opportunities and positive diversity
No one should be ever penalised for their ethnicity
The only thing that should be separated by colour is my god-damn smelly laundry
Here we are, at the point of no return
And while my washing machine is turning in circles
just like the world keeps spinning out of control
I want you to know that we’ve got this, Darling – we’ve got this.
So raise your fist and make a peace sign with it
Because the battle we lead, has never been a war
Trust the sound of this generation,
we’re all fighting for the same goals
Hitting the same notes, singing the same chorus
Singing the same melody of unity and freedom ”
I know that you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired
But when there’s nothing left to burn,
you gotta set yourself on fire and empower the great minds around you
that cease to exist.
Hope is like fire and you can warm countless hearts on it.
Here we are, at the point of no return
Still hoping that we’d be kings and queens by morning
But can you hear the sirens off in the distance?
They’re steadily approaching!
Running away was easy, but ignorance won’t save us now
We have to build resistance against a mighty system
That wants us to hide in the shadows of the masses”
I can hear them whispering our names, but we’re stronger
and we won’t ignore this storm any longer.
Open your eyes!
and finally understand that you have a voice ”
and that voice is more powerful than anything else in this world
Open your eyes and see that you’re not alone!
Open your eyes and start to believe in the unknown!
Believe in a change that is currently happening
Look at the streets filled with people, this is everything but not a blind alley!”
My heart is dancing with grace,”
when I see your incredible courage
when I see your fight for a better future
when I see how much you’re trying to move forward
I guess we’re still at that point of no return
and looking at the present makes the future appear so goddamn hard
…but you know what my dear?
Pssst! Let me tell you something:
The finish line is a wonderful place where we could start.” ”

Thomas Howie

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.