resilient futures

Resilient Futures - A think tank and network with a focus on the practical

Resilience is essential to defence and deterrence

Resilience means being able to resist and recover from disruption from any source – conflict, terrorism, and natural and man-made disasters.  But resilience means more than protecting national infrastructure such as food supply, water, health, energy, and communications. 

It's also about democratic institutions and practices, and the cohesion of society

The tools of global communications and social media allow anyone to be a commentator and a source of information, misinformation, and disinformation while remaining anonymous and free from editorial control and standards.

This is fertile ground for campaigns to undermine and discredit democratic values and institutions, and to promote and amplify divisions within free societies.

And disinformation campaigns respect neither national boundaries nor age limits

Any child with access to social media can encounter hostile disinformation campaigns.

But forewarned is forearmed, so Resilient Futures reaches out to students aged 16 to 18 to explain how disinformation works.

Resilient Futures believes that there is no better way of building resilience in society than by building resilience in its most vulnerable - and precious - citizens.

For that reason, for the last three years, Resilient Futures has run programmes in sixth-form and further education colleges to promote understanding of NATO and to raise awareness of hostile disinformation efforts that seek to undermine confidence in our democratic societies and institutions.

With the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, Resilient Futures has run briefings and workshops for over 500 hundred students in four colleges, all of which have requested us to provide these events on a regular basis. Initially, these took place as part of our “Atlantic Treaty Association of the United Kingdom”, programme, which came to an end during 2023.

Promoting NATO to Youth - June to December 2023

Resilient Futures’ “Promoting NATO to Youth” programme ran from June to December 2023 and reached almost 300 students who participated in a total of eleven workshops.

The first five workshops took place at two sixth-form colleges in Leicester. Students in one college were preparing for A-levels, and in the other, for T-level qualifications in public service.

Most of the students involved had previously participated in our workshops on NATO held in 2022, so these “follow-up” events explored information, misinformation, and disinformation before taking a “deeper dive” into disinformation.

This showed that some forms of disinformation can be harmless, and even entertaining. Many sports and games, for instance, involve misleading or deceiving other players. But disinformation can also be used in situations where the stakes are much higher, and it can make the difference between victory and defeat, or even life and death.

The Programme

The “Promoting NATO to Youth” programme offered students the opportunity to participate in workshops on two themes.
The first – “What is NATO” – looked at NATO as an Alliance of nations based on shared values. It then outlined the benefits and obligations of NATO membership and provided an overview of NATO’s role in international security. It concluded with a look at the realities behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Putin’s misrepresentation of NATO.
That sets the scene for the second workshop on “Information, Misinformation, and Disinformation”.
Starting with examples of disinformation in everyday life, this workshop showed how certain features of democratic societies – diversity, fairness, and openness – are exploited by hostile disinformation campaigns.
This workshop included “The Disinformation Game” where students explore dhow they might use disinformation to undermine a fictional story circulating on social media.

After that scene-setting introduction, students were invited to play “The Disinformation Game”, where they worked in groups to come up with ways of using disinformation to undermine a fictional story circulating on social media.

The students showed impressive – and disconcerting – creativity when asked to be “the bad guys”, trying to discredit the story and its sources, and using fake narratives to create doubt and confusion.

They then compared their messages and ideas with those used in a well-documented, real-life disinformation campaign.

The workshops ended with students learning about other disinformation campaigns – some humorous, and some deadly serious.

Resilient Futures then held six workshops in two other colleges, one in Loughborough and one in Oakham.

The Loughborough participants were all taking Public and Uniformed Public Service courses, which involve modules on citizenship, international affairs, NATO, and security threats to the United Kingdom. The workshops on both NATO and disinformation were therefore directly relevant to their studies.

The events in Loughborough College began with “scene-setting” briefings explaining that international events are not remote, abstract occurrences, but often have direct impacts on everyone’s daily lives. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for instance, has led to rising food and energy costs that have affected everyone.

A briefing on NATO then explained NATO’s role and missions, underlining the crucial importance of NATO’s shared values and the commitment to common defence.

These were followed by workshops on information, misinformation, and disinformation along the same lines as those held in Leicester, described above.

Two events took place in Harington School in Oakham: a workshop on NATO held just before the summer break, and another on information, misinformation and disinformation held in December.

Why workshops on NATO and Disinformation?

The United Kingdom is a leading member of NATO, and the workshops help young students to understand the Alliance itself and the benefits and obligations of membership.
Students gain a deeper understanding about NATO and, hopefully, will take pride in the United Kingdom’s role within the organization. At the very least, the workshops can address common misrepresentations and misperceptions about NATO and help to dispel misunderstandings about it.
Workshops on NATO are obviously directly relevant to a variety of vocational and academic courses ranging from preparation for public service, to A-levels in subjects such as politics and history.
The workshops also help colleges to fulfil their regulatory requirement to instil British values. The NATO workshops stress that the Alliance is founded on shared values – democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law – which, of course, are three of the core British values that colleges are bound by regulation to instil in their students.
In addition, by highlighting the dangers of disinformation, the workshops help to “inoculate” students against disinformation in general, and raise their awareness of disinformation campaigns which seek to undermine confidence in democratic values, societies and institutions.
Hostile disinformation campaigns do not respect national borders, nor do they have age limits, so students are exposed to disinformation well before they reach adulthood.

“Resilience is an essential basis for credible deterrence and defence and effective fulfilment of the Alliance’s core tasks”.

 Statement on the Commitment to Enhance Resilience.  NATO Heads of State and Government, Warsaw Summit, 8 July 2016

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Resilient Futures, Ltd
UK Company number 12958272
Registered address
2nd Floor, 167-169 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PF, United Kingdom