CEU students hone policymaking and research skills at summer fora across Europe

19-07-2023

Ten CEU students had the opportunity to take part in policy, research and learning fora in Paris, London and Strasbourg in June, as part of CIVICA - The European University of Social Sciences.

The students, funded by CIVICA, participated in academic gatherings such as the European Student Assembly, the LSE Festival’s Knowledge Beyond Boundaries Interdisciplinary Student Research Conference and European Week. These events helped foster formative student exchange across the CIVICA alliance, as well as professional development development and civic engagement for the students, through dialogue, workshops and presentations. 

Perspectives in Policy Making 

Arina Lupu and Andrej Planinsek from CEU attended the second edition of the European Student Assembly in Strasbourg, an event aimed at bolstering student capacities for policymaking by helping them develop recommendations that address challenges facing the EU. The assembly, hosted by The European Universities Community (EUC), gathers student representatives from European university alliances annually to provide policy contributions to the Conference on the Future of Europe.  

“Participating in the European Student Assembly has been a truly transformative experience,” said Lupu, who is earning her master’s degree in human rights in CEU’s Department of Legal Studies. "It has broadened my perspective, offered a platform for constructive dialogue and debate, provided me with supportive connections and strengthened my sense of the importance of collective action."

In preparation for the assembly, the selected students worked remotely to deepen their understanding of a policy topic and produce policy recommendations. Then, during the three-day assembly, they discussed the complex challenges the EU faces, presenting their recommendations for potential solutions. Lupu focused on how elements of deliberative democracy can help to reduce the communication gap between institutional policy makers and EU citizens in order to build trust, understanding and meaningful participation. Among her recommendations were strategies for bringing Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) closer to their electorate, educational interventions in schools for youth, and participatory opportunities for citizen input.  

Experience in Presenting Research 

CEU students Gospodin Tonev and Laura Vigil Escalera Mier had the opportunity to hone their presentation skills at the London School of Economics (LSE) Festival's Knowledge Beyond Boundaries Interdisciplinary Student Research Conference. The annual conference, which takes place in London, showcases the research of current students from CIVICA alliance universities - which includes CEU - alongside LSE students and recent alumni.  

“This was my very first academic presentation in English in front of an audience,” said Tonev, a master’s student who studies global business law and regulation at CEU. His presentation covered the debate over data ownership and access to data in the context of the European Commission’s Data Act. “We had mentors from LSE who helped us to improve our presentation skills before the event, and it was beneficial for my overall development as a student." The conference focused on thematic areas from across the social sciences, such as the opportunities and risks of technological change, the future of cities, and the impacts of shifts toward net-zero economies.  

Tonev highlighted the valuable understanding he gained of topics adjacent to his specific field of academic studies, which he said would provoke him to look at classic legal problems through more interdisciplinary lenses. “I had the opportunity to meet students, young researchers and reputable professors from diverse backgrounds. Academically, the event was truly interdisciplinary across professional fields and geographies,” he said. 

Developing Pathways to Urban Sustainability 

CEU students Mahmoud Al Hamdan, Sofia Mancini, Marton Vida, Frederik Reiff, Alexandra Pavlovicova and Maayan Zimmerman were among the 80 bachelor’s students from across the CIVICA alliance gathered for European Week, a five-day workshop at Sciences Po in Paris. There, they engaged in seminars and projects on the topic of ecological transitions of cities. Designed by the Sciences Po Undergraduate College andthe e Urban School, European Week focused on pathways to urban sustainability, while simultaneously promoting ecological literacy among students through a comprehensive look at the challenges and opportunities related to cities and the governing of climate change. 

The workshop offered an experiential approach through site visits combined with classroom seminars, so that students could think through urban sustainability in context. “The most memorable part of the event for me, was visiting Saint Denis, one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of the Paris Metropolitan Area," said Vida, a bachelor's student in CEU’s Philosophy, Politics and Economics program. “I was grateful that the organizers wanted us to see this part of their hometown and think about its most burning challenges.”  

Al Hamdan, Culture, Politics and Society BA student at CEU, highlighted the critical role that the in-depth workshop discussions played in developing his final project on biodiversity, which will be edited into a podcast related to the European Week topics. He also voiced appreciation at being able to meet his peers from other European universities. “Socially speaking, I got to exchange ideas with students from across the CIVICA network, and I plan to keep in touch with them,” he said. 

At European Week, students had the opportunity to build engaging dialogues with practitioners, scholars and decision-makers, and to propose ideas to foster the processes of ecological transition. Participants from across Europe took part in the week, which many students said facilitated enriching workshops and peer relationship development.

“Even if it is not always a measurable effect, I believe that every exchange with students from other countries, universities and cultures helps us in our development as students and citizens,” said Raiff, a CEU Philosophy, Politics and Economics BA student “These exchanges provide us with perspectives, contacts and new information.”  

Written by Julie Potter (CEU)

Photo credits: Arina Lupa