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Student Conferences: a formative experience for engaged students
EUTOPIA is a student-empowering alliance, and our students took the center stage during their own conferences!
EUTOPIA is a student-centered and student empowering alliance. Through bodies like the Student Forum, the Student Council, the Student Think Tank, EUTOPIA aims to allow students a voice in their university’s governance.
More than that, one of EUTOPIA’s goals is to let students meet and work together, and make them responsible of projects of their own. Two prime examples of this are the BeEUTOPIAn, and the SDG in the Post-pandemic Era student conferences that took place in April and June, respectively.
The BeEUTOPIAn Student Conference: looking back on the COVID-19 pandemic, and looking forward to what comes after
The first ever BeEUTOPIAn Student Conference took place online from April 20th to 22nd 2021, focusing on the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on students from all walks of life, on their studies, their mobility, their work perspective… What’s more, the team spearheading the organization of the Conference were adamant in their will to use the event to find and propose answers, and solutions, to the problems the universities of EUTOPIA face during the pandemic.
What can we learn from the successes and failures of our member universities in handling online classes and student mental health? What aspects and pedagogical ideas from the online system could be brought back to in-person teaching when the crisis finally recedes? What can universities do to be better prepared for the next eventual crisis, and make the best out of their situation?
All those questions and more have been thought of, and the team is currently working on a special report addressing all of them, aimed at the governing structures of all EUTOPIA universities.
Organizing the Conference has been a very formative experience for all the members of the BeEUTOPIAn Team. They researched and decided on an important and often overlooked topic, sought out participants, communicated and marketed their event, prepared the logistics, and handled a live event. Meet three of them, and what they say they have gained by being a part of EUTOPIA and the BeEUTOPIAn Team.
“I am finishing a Social Sciences Bachelor degree with an orientation in Sociology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and I am a member of two EUTOPIA committees: Eutopia Commission on Sustainability as well as the BeEUTOPIAn student conference. I have been involved in several other extracurricular activities at my university including the Erasmus Student Network and the VUB Simulation of United Nations negotiations, both of which allowed me to meet some extraordinary and open-minded people. »
On the BeEUTOPIAn experience:
« Organising this conference would not have been possible without the incredible team of amazingly motivated and capable women that were part of it. They have always been punctual, productive, and passionate in bringing the conference to life and they are the reason the conference was a success. The conference itself brought together experienced panelists whose thoughts I might not have been able to hear were it not for the international context in which EUTOPIA operates.”
“I am a fourth-year medical student at UPF Barcelona, and I participated in the BeEutopian Student Conference because it looked like a great opportunity to be a part of a global and relevant project. The experience was wonderful! Apart from organizing what I think was a successful conference, with the participation of a great panel of speakers, we had the chance to give students, professors and experts a platform to talk about the future of higher education. Being a member of the organizing team made me work on a wide variety of skills, personally and academically, and gave me an opportunity to meet a lovely group of girls from around the world. The contacts and friendships made during this project are certainly something that will stay with me during my student life.”
“My name is Charlotte DESMEULES. I am a French student in my first year of a Master’s degree of Business Law at CY Cergy Paris University. After having participated as a host to the Eutopia Week, I organized, in collaboration with other students of the EUTOPIA Alliance, the first BeEUTOPIAn Student conference realized online. As a member of the content team, I noticed how difficult it was to find speakers. As a member of the PR team, I could see how communication was the heart of a successful conference.
I enjoyed being part of the creation of this conference from scratch. First of all, it gave me the opportunity to debate in a foreign language and also allowed me to improve my communication skills and event management skills.”
A Learning Community Summer Conference: the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-pandemic era
The students of the Learning Community Geography, environment and sustainability hosted a series of conferences from June 30th to July 2nd: Rethinking the UN SDG Agenda in the Post-Pandemic Era: Building new priorities, facing new challenges and seizing opportunities
From international organizations to our own little communities and families, all our lives have been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. Global problems associated with poverty, hunger, and health have been foregrounded. When it is just a decade to reach the deadline of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda, the path to accomplishing them has dramatically changed.
Such was the thinking of the Students who organized the Conference. Under their supervision, the event took on the particular effects of the health crisis on the SDGs, especially in cities, on inequalities, consumption, and other topics in a transdisciplinary way. They also encouraged the participation of experts in the fields and university students in order to create a joint conversation, necessary to widen the participant’s perspectives and therefore work towards these goals while leaving no one behind.
Like with the BeEUTOPIAn Conference, meet a few of the organizing students and learn what they say they have gained by being a part of EUTOPIA.
“I just finished my first year in my degree of Global Studies at UPF Barcelona. I was a member of Eutopia’s Scientific committee for this year’s conference on SDG-related matters.
Being part of the organization of a conference that brings together the minds of young students and expert panelists from different nationalities, characteristics, and overall backgrounds, has been an extremely enriching experience. I was able, not only to help make this cooperative reunion happen, but also to expose my own work in it, alongside my teammates. Moreover, the great variety of perspectives on SDG matters presented at the conference gave rise to openness and learning, which will surely be extremely valuable in the future.”
Helena Catalán Busquets
“I’m Helena Catalán Busquets, a first-year Global Studies student at University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. I have been part of the scientific committee of the EUTOPIA conference on the SDGs.
Being part of EUTOPIA, and specifically participating in the organization of this conference, has been an eye-opener for me. Coming into contact and sharing experiences with students from around the world has shown me that knowledge knows no borders. Undoubtedly, EUTOPIA, for me, symbolizes the values of multilateralism, cosmopolitanism, and global cooperation.
Moreover, I would like to highlight the social relevance of the Conference. The Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, with the Sustainable Development Goals at its center, provides the tools that are needed to tackle the problems of the 21st century. Therefore, I truly think that this conference has been the best way to raise awareness on the importance of giving global responses to global problems.”
“I just finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. I was part of the organizing committee for the Summer Student Conferenceon the SDG Agenda in the Post-Pandemic Era. During the Conference, I presented my final thesis titled: “The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 in Seoul: The roots of Seoul’s housing problem and its implication for the future of the N-po generation”.
Being part of the organizing committee allowed me to understand the complexities of the issues at hand concerning the SDGs from multiple perspectives. The mix of key note speakers and individual students allowed a holistic and inter-generational perspective which balanced the viewpoints, and ensured the actual rethinking process was achieved.”
“I just finished my second year of a Geography Degree at CY Cergy Paris University, and I got the opportunity to be part of the organizing committee for the conference named “Rethinking the UN SDG Agenda in the post-pandemic era”.
This first experience with EUTOPIA gave me the chance to first meet European students and professors and to exchange about essential subjects. The whole EUTOPIA team and participants brought so much energy and passion.
The participation of the activist Cynthia Enloe and the discussion we had about feminism was very inspiring.
I really hope to attend next year’s conference and encourage other students to do so.”
“I am enrolled in the third year of my studies at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography. I am especially interested in the field of climate change, human adaptation to it, and sustainable development in the wider context. During the EUTOPIA student-led conference I was a part of the Scientific Committee.
I have never been a part of this kind of committee before, so it was a great and useful experience where I gained a lot of new skills, especially in the field of how to organize events like this. Being a part of EUTOPIA is a great manifestation of the need for international integration of young students who strive for finding new solutions for our common future challenges.”