From June 28th to 30th 2015, we held a pre-conference ESEE 2015 Summer School in Leeds, UK. We had 30 attendees, from 14 different countries, selected from nearly 90 applicants, ensuring a very high calibre of delegate. The main goal of the ESEE Summer School was to move away from the traditional PhD conference, which tends to be longer talks by attendees and quite passive. Instead we conceived the idea of a dynamic and stimulating summer school that would challenge delegates and at the same time provide a wide platform of shared learning. We had planned three main topics:
- A 3 minute thesis: we wanted to hear in a concise form, what people were researching and what made them passionate about their subject. We got exactly that, some really entertaining talks by people from an amazing range of backgrounds. You can see them for yourself below.
- Early career session: to listen to and then ask questions to people with more established careers, both inside and outside academia. What we learnt was that life is not a linear process, and there are ups and downs but that eventually the fog clears, you see where you want to go, and you can strive to achieve it.
- Transformations sessions: these were the key feature of the Summer school, linking to the main ESEE 2015 Transformations conference theme. We constrained delegates on the first day to think inside the box, working within established UN goals and targets. On day two, we stretched people to think outside the box, and develop radical change ideas and personal action plans. After the summer school, 4 brave people put together a 10 minute presentation and gave their challenge on Transformations to the 300+ opening ceremony attendees in the Great Hall.
We attempted to make the sessions dynamic, interesting and engaging. Above all it was a forum to hear others speak, rather than the organisers. In the evenings, and outside the sessions, there was great dialogue, and we heard excellent key note addresses by Dr Erik Gomez-Baggethun, Professor Sigrid Stagl, and Professor David Hogg.
A detailed report of the Summer School including reports from participants is available to download here. Below are some excerpts from our participants reports.
... the atmosphere was outstanding. When the organization is perfect, and the students' disposition positive and open, such things can actually happen: from the very beginning we enjoyed being together in a great didactic experience.
I have met a number of excellent and inspiring young individuals, learnt a whole new lot and, yes, got inspired once again about the world and its future.
A good balance between inspiring lectures, group discussions, early career sessions, students' presentations (3MT!) and the physical teamwork exercise made the process highly enjoyable despite a very intense agenda.
The summer school really lived up to my expectations in terms of allowing me to exchange thoughts with other academics active within the field of ecological economics, and ever more valuable it was to get to know young and early career researchers that I truly think I will stay in touch with for many years to come.