Call for applications: Come join the Young People's Freedom of Expression Council!

June 15 2020

Are you between the ages of 16 and 26 and interested in freedom of expression and social debate?

Would you like to learn more about these topics and to discuss why it is important to defend freedom of expression, and what it is like to be deprived of this right? Norwegian PEN and Fritt Ord are recruiting members to join the Young People’s Freedom of Expression Council.

Young people in Norway rarely participate in public debates, according to the Norwegian Media Authority’s survey of critical media understanding (2019). Many get their news through social media, and adolescents spend far more time on social media than on traditional media. Participating in debates on social media can be both inclusive and positive, at the same time as it can also be a brutal experience. Are the voices of young people in Norway really being heard?

Norwegian PEN and Fritt Ord are in the process of setting up a Youth Council to discuss and assess the challenges and opportunities facing young people in today’s climate for freedom of expression. The Council will be chaired by author and human rights activist Nancy Herz. It will consist of up to 15 participants who will engage in discussions and make specific proposals for how youth and young adults can be better equipped to participate in social debate. What challenges do they face? Who is being heard? Who is subjected to hate talk and domination techniques? What opportunities do youth and young adults have to influence the public debate?

We hereby invite young people between the ages of 16 and 26 from anywhere in the country to apply for a seat on the Young People’s Freedom of Expression Council.


Four weekend sessions will be held in autumn 2020 and spring 2021. The participants can look forward to impassioned, knowledgeable speakers and to learning about freedom of expression and participation in the public debate. The programme will offer training in debate techniques as well as in how to write feature articles and speeches, and all members will take part in drawing up and presenting good recommendations and proposals for the social debate.

Practical information:

Dates of the four weekend sessions:
24 – 25 October 2020
21 – 22 November 2020
13 – 14 February 2021
20 – 21 March 2021

The House of Literature in Oslo.
The session scheduled on 13 – 14 February 2021 may be organised in another city.

The working language will be Norwegian.

Participants will be served lunch on both days and have dinner together on Saturday. Norwegian PEN and Fritt Ord will cover travel and lodging expenses as needed.
Participants under the age of 18 must submit a signed permission slip from their parents or guardians.

If selected to participate, you will be expected to attend all four of the sessions, if at all possible. You will also be required to do some individual work between the sessions.

There are a limited number of seats on the Council. By completing and submitting your application, you are indicating your interest in participating. You will be asked to provide information such as your name and address, in addition to contact information for your parents or guardians if you under the age of 18, and to give a brief description of yourself and your motivation for applying to participate on the Young People’s Freedom of Expression Council.

Insofar as possible, participants will be selected to ensure that the Council will have balanced representation in terms of gender, age, functional variation, geography, background and experience. You will receive an email in the first half of August with notification of whether or not you have been selected to participate.

Please register on this link:

Deadline: Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 11.59 p.m.

Ingeborg Kværne, Norwegian PEN: or mobile: +47 991 64860 (Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Anne-Lise Sognnes, Fritt Ord: or mobile: +47 905 84316 (Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

About the organisers:

Nancy Herz (age 24) is an award-winning Norwegian-Lebanese writer, speaker and human rights activist who grew up in Haugesund. She is co-author of the book Shameless (Gyldendal, 2017) and a passionate proponent of freedom of expression, women’s rights and the right to live freely.

Norwegian PEN is an independent member organisation that is the Norwegian branch of PEN International, the world’s largest organisation for writers and freedom of expression. Norwegian PEN strives to promote free speech in Norway and abroad, focussing inter alia on imprisoned and persecuted writers, journalists and others who oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression, whistle-blower protection, freedom of the press, data protection, and promoting general awareness and knowledge about the value of free debate and freedom of culture.

Fritt Ord is a private non-profit foundation that is intended to protect and promote freedom of expression, public debate, art and culture. Each year, Fritt Ord provides a large number of grants for different projects that encourage dynamic debate and the fearless use of free speech, and for research projects in the field of freedom of expression. Fritt Ord also organises an annual competition, inviting upper secondary school pupils to submit contributions that revolve around freedom of expression and democracy.