issue 5, year 3
The 6th Consortium meeting
Tartu, February 2018
Members of the CATCH-EyoU consortium gathered in Estonia
The 6th Consortium Meeting and General Assembly were hosted by the University of Tartu. The participants posing in front of the historical main building of the university founded in 1632.
Author: Lorenzo Floresta
Members of the CATCH-EyoU consortium gathered in Estonia
Professor Marge Unt, a guest presenter from the Tallinn University, introduced some results of another H2020 project called EXCEPT that investigates youth labour market dynamics in the EU countries and Ukraine.
Author: Signe Opermann
Members of the CATCH-EyoU consortium gathered in Estonia
Acknowledgement: this overview is based on the notes of the meeting taken and contributed by Davide Mazzoni, Iana Tzankova, Antonella Guarino, Cinzia Albanesi, Bruna Zani, Elvira Cicognani, Philipp Jugert, Clara Elisabeth Mikolajczyk, Peter Noack, Vassilis Pavlopulos, Shakuntala Banaji, Veronika Kalmus, Erik Amnå, Lorenzo Floresta and Petr Macek.
The 6th Consortium Meeting and General Assembly of the CATCH-EyoU project was held on February 12-13 in Estonia. The meeting was this time hosted by the University of Tartu and its team from the Institute of Social Studies.
Altogether, 30 consortium members from eight national research teams, two partners from the International Youth Panel, one member of the International Advisory Board of the project and one guest presenter from the H2020 project EXCEPT took part in the two-day meeting and vivid discussions. The meeting incorporated also a session of presentations on the results of the research done within the Work Packages (WP) 3, 5 and 6 addressed to invited stakeholders and journalists from Estonian organizations and media outlets.
Subsequently, the meeting’s agenda included a revised overview of the aims of the theoretical model from the WP2 (lead by Prof. Frosso Motti-Stefanidi and Dr. Shakuntala Banaji). The overarching theoretical model encompasses insights from various documents from all other WPs and seeks to enable a more comprehensive analysis and conceptually rich understanding of the empirical results on “successful” practices of young people’s participation.
The meeting continued with the presentations of the empirical WPs where the research is still in process. The first session in this part of the meeting focused on the active citizenship cases that were selected for an observation-based ethnographic study (WP8, led by Dr. Shakuntala Banaji) conducted in various youth organizations in Sweden, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, Czech Republic, Italy, and United Kingdom. The next phase of the WP8 involves extensive qualitative and ethnographic work as well as analysis of the collected data. When describing the initiatives taking place in each country, Shakuntala Banaji pointed out that youth organizations approach the EU in very different ways. Their approaches reflect a set of underlying themes such as certain ideologies, power issues, emotions, choices and attitudes that may be, at least to some extent, influenced by funding for youth activities. One of the most interesting results of the WP8 will probably be the typologies of citizenship that bring out the symbiosis between conformism and different forms of activity.
Next set of presentations and discussion focused on the second study still in progress (WP7, led by Prof. Peter Noack and Prof. Petr Macek) on the processes in youth construction of active EU citizenship. The presentations by Prof. Noack and Jan Serek introduced the preliminary results of online survey that was conducted in two waves (in 2016 and 2017) among adolescents and young people in each participating country. The researchers contributing to the WP7 presented the current status of the data from both waves and clarified the details related to preparation of the national reports and cross-national analysis of the longitudinal data. The results will be publicly disseminated in June.
Finally, an advancement of the study on socially innovative interventions at schools in Italy, Sweden, Germany, Portugal and Czech Republic was presented and discussed (WP9, led by Prof. Elvira Cicognani and Prof. Erik Amnå). In each country, the students engaged in the CATCH-EyoU project work on various topics using various methodological approaches. For example, in Italy, the four groups of students work on topics like pollution, drug abuse, immigration and poverty; in Sweden, the topic of refugee crisis is in focus; the German students have chosen to explore the topics of migration, women’s quota, climate change, digitalization in daily life; students in Portugal deal with the issue of gender relationships; and students in Czech Republic conduct interviews on intergenerational relationships in the society. The individual presentations were given by Dr. Davide Mazzoni, Jasmine Ivarsson, Clara Mikolajczyk, Carla Malafaia and Dr. Alena Mackova. As Prof. Amnå and other involved colleagues concluded from the session, one of the expected impact of the WP9 is a higher awareness of the mentioned problems and possible solutions among the participating students. Moreover, one should not oversee the role of teachers when providing supervision and support during the whole process. Prof. Cicognani confirmed that the students from the aforementioned national teams will present the intervention processes also in the final conference of the CATCH-EyoU project taking place in September in Brussels.
About a dozen stakeholders and journalists attended the 6th consortium meeting in Tartu
After the opening part of the General Assembly meeting, the consortium of the CATCH-EyoU project welcomed journalists from Estonian newspapers and journals, stakeholders and invited guests from various national as well as local governments, youth work organizations and research institutions. The aim was to introduce the results of already finalized studies from three work packages and attract their attention for further collaboration. The presentations gave an overview of both cross-national comparative results (can be found in the Blue Papers available on the website) and findings illuminating on the Estonian context. In particular, these findings were related to research done among youth policy makers, at schools and on media representations of youth active citizenship.
In her talk, Dr. Mai Beilmann emphasized that an analysis of a series of in-depth interviews with Estonian politicians, officials, and leaders of youth organizations (within the framework of WP3) allowed to conclude that in Estonia, the policy makers tend to believe that young people are capable to participate in decision making processes. Moreover, it is worthwhile to make an extra effort to involve them in policy process. However, as the results also show, not all young people in Estonia have equal chances to be heard and supported in participating in community life or accessing the decision-making processes. There is (still) a big proportion of young people whose ideas, opinions, interests and concerns are not represented and expressed in Estonian public sphere. Mai Beilmann underlined that the shortcomings in inclusion practices are usually not specifically related to youth but reflect more common problems, which are unfortunately rather typical in inclusion practices. For example, not providing (young) citizens timely and sufficient information to participate in decision making or consulting only with target groups that are easy to reach.
Dr. Ragne Kõuts-Klemm elaborated on the results of media analysis based on articles published during 2014–2015 on two online media outlets that have the largest audience in Estonia. Her study within WP5 brought out that in Estonia, media give quite a little space to young people and their views on various issues. Nevertheless, since the period of study coincided with the preparations of the local government elections (took place in 2017) and public communication of the lowering the age of voting to 16, young people were somewhat more focused on in the media. The analysis of the mainstream media content also revealed that the representation of young people, in general, was positive or neutral. Their initiatives and achievements were highlighted, the current conditions that influence self-realization of youth in the Estonian society were discussed, to name some themes. However, the study allowed to conclude that young people’s voices were rarely heard and that adults tended to speak for them.
Mari-Liis Tikerperi introduced (within the framework of WP6) the results of focus groups and in-depth interviews with Estonian upper secondary school and vocational school students and their teachers from the fields of history, English, and social studies. The interviews were conducted in different cities and smaller regional centers across the country. As the analysis showed, students’ activity and motivation to participate in societal activities depends on personality but also on their ethnic background and type of community. Another finding points out that, although, in general, Estonian school environment and educational system provide enough support for both formal and informal ways of student engagement, some of the interviewed students said that in their opinion schools tend to situate pupils in younger classes (i.e., basic school students) into a somewhat passive role.
In addition to introduction of some work packages of the CATCH-EyoU project, two guest speakers – Prof. Marge Unt and Prof. Airi-Alina Allaste from the Tallinn University – presented two other international research projects related to youth active participation (incl. via social media) and their situation and challenges on labour market. The projects are entitled as: “Memory, Youth, Political Legacy And Civic Engagement” (MYPLACE), and “EXCEPT- Social Exclusion of Youth in Europe: Cumulative Disadvantage, Coping Strategies, Effective Policies and Transfer”.
The presentations lead to a discussion with invited stakeholders from the Youth Affairs Department of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (Ms. Reelika Ojakivi), the Estonian Youth Work Centre (Ms. Age Tomson), the Youth Policy Service of the Tartu City Government (Ms. Piret Talur), Estonian National Youth Council (Mr. Karl-Andreas Sprenk) and other institutions. Also, a visiting cooperation partner, Prof. Doyle Stevick from the Office of International and Comparative Education of the College of Education of the University of South Carolina was present. As the stakeholders reflected on their impressions of the meeting and the presentations afterwards, the whole occasion provided a lot of new information and thoughts to enter, also worthwhile further reading materials on related issues. One of the main questions they posed addressed the issue of to what extent and how the projects presented in the session deal with minority groups in respective European countries. As the discussion revealed, within the framework of the CATCH-EyoU project, schools have been seen as having a crucial role in integration and democracy processes in each society.
The session ended with an opportunity for Estonian journalists to take interviews with the members of the consortium. Some of the stories have already been published in newspapers. For example, a news article by Mihkel Tamm, based on the interviews with Prof. Erik Amnå and Prof. Veronika Kalmus, was published in the Estonian Daily under the title: “We have to make better use of the out of box thinking by young people in the society” [translation is mine – S.O.]. Several articles and interviews are waiting their publication: for instance, an interview with Dr. Shakuntala Banaji and an article by Dr. Mai Beilmann in the cultural paper Müürileht which will dedicate their April issue to Generation Y.
CATCH-EyoU has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement n. 649538