Civil Society Activism and Democracy: Risks and Promises

“Civil Society Activism and Democracy: Risks and Promises” will analyze non-governmental organizations, think tanks, foundations, universities and activists that act as agents of participatory democracy at both the national and global levels. The dialogue was organized by NYU Florence professor Gianluca Sgueo and will take place on May 2 at 6 p.m. in Villa Sassetti. It will feature journalist and activist Angela Gennaro, scholars Jamal Shahin and Vigjilenca Abazi, and lawyer Giulio Carini.

Gennaro has been part of the Italian branch of, a petition website that serves as a platform to advance social change, since last September. She served as photo editor for the Associated Press for three years, worked as a journalist for media outlets such as Current TV and News Italia Press Agency, and currently writes for Il Fatto Quotidiano. She is interested in women’s rights, and discusses issues related to them in a segment titled “In the World of Women” on the web radio program, Radio Bullets. She also has a blog on the Huffington Post.

Shahin is a part-time postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels and a part-time lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. He holds a doctorate in politics and European studies. His research focuses on European governance and the role of the internet and telecommunications within. He works in conjunction with the European Union. and has consulted on EU-funded research on research policy, eGovernment, and eDemocracy policies, both at the EU and national levels.

Abazi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Law and a research coordinator at the Centre for European Research in Maastricht. She was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School, and her research focuses on EU constitutional and institutional law. She has lectured on EU law and was a guest lecturer of European criminal law at the University of Amsterdam. She is a faculty member of eLabEurope, an advisory and research platform committed to promoting civic engagement, and a team member of Food Frontiers, a nonprofit organization that uses food and the power of shared meals as a source of conflict management, community building, and cultural exchange. She also offers journalists pro bono legal advice on requesting public access to documents.

Carini worked for international law firm, Latham and Watkins, and holds a master’s degree in international relations. He served as a researcher and campaigner for Global Witness, a nonprofit organization that carries out investigations to expose environmental and human rights abuses, and Counterpoint, the former think tank of the British Council which offers public and private sector organizations analysis on cultural and social dynamics. He co-founded a legal directory consultancy and currently works for Riparte Il Futuro, an anti-corruption organization.

Sgueo holds a master’s degree in administrative and public law, a master’s degree in European law and a doctorate in public law. He currently teaches media, activism and democracy at NYU Florence, is an adjunct professor at Bocconi University in Milan, and is a policy analyst for the European Parliament.

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