Estonia's student conference on sustainability marks 10th year

25 February 2012 | News story

More than 560 students have attended the student-run WinterAcademy. In March 2012, the theme is a green economy for Estonia. CEC member Kadri Kalle reports.

In Estonia, the student science conference named WinterAcademy is happening in the beginning of March for the 10th time. Every year the event focuses on different sustainability issues and brings together for three days 150 students from universities and specialities in Estonia. It is the only interdisciplinary student event on sustainability in Estonia, bringing together students from engineering, economy, envrionmental sciences as well as arts and cultural studies. And for 10 years, the event has been organised solely on a volunteer basis by students for students.

The overall aim of WinterAcademy (in Estonian: TalveAkadeemia) is to inspire students to get involved in making research and innovation projects in the different fields of sustainable development.

The three-day conference gives students of all levels from all Estonian universities an opportunity to introduce their research projects to a wider audience. Every year a science article competition is organised to select the best works to be presented at the conference. For many students it’s their first trial for scientific journalism. Every year, as the conference tackles a different sustainability topic, it gives participants newest information, allows them to learn new practical skills in workshops. Alternative ideas’ sessions in the evenings create supporting environment for people to meet, share ideas and develop new projects. Over the years, a new NGO, an annual enveironmental summer camp and several other new projects have started from these sessions.

Over these 10 years, more than 560 students have been involved and taken part of WinterAcademy. According to a recent study among all the participants:

  • 38% say that WinterAcademy has helped them to see better the relation between their own field of study and sustainability;
  • 43% say that WinterAcademy has given a better interdisciplinary setting to their field of study and sustainability
  • 30% say the event gave motivation to continue in their sustainability-related studies.
  • Additionally, for many of the conference organisers, it’s also their first experience in project management.

This year, the conference focuses on alteratives in economy and asks if Estonia can become a green state. The topics include social enterprise, circular economy, Rio+20 simulation, discussions on Estonian higher education and much more. Last year, the conference focused on biodiversity and hosted also a speaker from IUCN.

The conference website >>