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“War”, “Conflict”, or “Special Operation”? Confidence and Trust in Digital Discourse

Scholars from Southeast Europe cooperate in a DAAD workshop in Vršac and study visit in Chemnitz on constructing confidence and trust in hybrid media, research, and teaching

The project “Comparing Confidence and Trust Online and Offline” joined partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, and Serbia in a workshop in Vršac (Serbia) from 3 to 6 July 2022 and their students from Serbia and North Macedonia in a study visit in Chemnitz from 8 to 17 July 2022. The DAAD-funded project connects Professor Josef Schmied from the English Department at Chemnitz University of Technology and the universities in Vlorë (ALB), Banja Luka (BiH), Split (CR), Skopje, Ohrid, and Bitola (NMK), and Vršac and Niš (SR). The participants compared how confidence and trust are established in local media, academic, and didactic contexts in the online, offline and hybrid sphere. A central focus of discussion was the discourse on the events in Russia and Ukraine after 24 February 2022 and the way they are framed in the media – as “war”, “conflict”, or “special operation”. This discussion was started during an introductory online meeting, continued during the workshop, and extended in the student contributions to the study visit conference Digital English World-Wide (15-16 July 2022) in Chemnitz. The participants showed how differently media from their countries, from Southeast Europe, and globally, reflect on the events.

Workshop in Vršac

The workshop engaged eleven participants in practical tutorials and discussions. In order to conduct linguistic analyses with modern digital methods, the participants received two tutorials by PhD students from Chemnitz University of Technology. The first workshop introduced digital discourse annotation using the software UAM CorpusTool and INCEpTION as a way to semi-automatically tag and analyse digital text. Another workshop introduced them to topic modelling as a way to get a bird’s-eye view on big data like news reports or political speeches. The Chemnitz PhD students also used the opportunity to test their Czech English conversational agent developed as part of the CRC Hybrid Societies of Chemnitz University of Technology. The available diverse Slavic speaker sample reflected on the authenticity of the voice and on issues in incorporating digital technologies like a pedagogical agent in teaching.

The workshop participants also introduced their latest research. Đorđević summarized the core frameworks for analysing digital media discourse in linguistic research and together with Mitić discussed linguistic devices used for implicit anti-vaccination propaganda in Serbian news reports. Škara & Matas presented different humor frames on the Coronavirus. Both Lazarevska-Stanchevska and Babić questioned if news can be trusted on the example of international breaking news and Bosnian news on political figures.

Promising students from teacher training college Vršac were involved in all discussions and brainstormed good practices that can be used to create trust in online and hybrid learning. The group prepared the summer school in Palić (Serbia) in August where students from the partner universities will get the chance to cooperate in practical academic tasks and explore the heritage of the Vojvodina region.

Study Visit in Chemnitz

Five PhD and Master’s students from Serbia and North Macedonia had the opportunity to prepare and present their research at the TU Chemnitz in the frame of the project. After an extensive library tour, the students participated in a workshop on data and knowledge management with Citavi. They had international encounters in group discussions with guest researchers from the Masaryk University Brno supported by the DAAD-Ostpartnerschaften program and the Chemnitz team from Bulgaria, China, Germany, Iran, Italy, and Nigeria. The guests had group and individual consultations on their presentations at the two-day conference in Heizhaus. During their stay they immersed in Saxony with the 9-euro ticket and were grateful to do late shifts with the rich resources of the university library. The results of the research during the workshop, the study visit and the summer school will be published in an edited volume part of Josef Schmied’s series Research in English and Applied Linguistics.

You can find more information on the project and the conference online:

Special video greeting from Prof. Tunde Ope-Davies (University of Lagos, Nigeria) at the conference on the long partnership with the English Department is available online.

(Author: Marina Ivanova)

Matthias Fejes
27.07.2022

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