Hosted at the SGH Warsaw School of Economics, the CIVICA Student Association Forum (SAF) was a three-day event that brought together 150 students and early-stage researchers, representing student unions and organizations from the ten universities of the CIVICA European University alliance.
The event was also attended by 10 students from Ukrainian partner universities, whose participation was funded by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) as part of the CIVICA for Ukraine project.
The goal of the first meeting of student organizations within the framework of the CIVICA European University Alliance (CIVICA SAF) was to foster cooperation and exchange between student unions, associations and clubs operating at CIVICA universities, as well as to strengthen the practical skills and knowledge of participants for future implementation of joint projects and initiatives. Gaining skills and knowledge in this area may be important in the context of the planned creation of the CIVICA Student Engagement Fund (SEF), through which students from CIVICA universities will be able to receive small grants for projects involving several CIVICA universities and in line with the alliance’s mission. Students had the opportunity to acquire new competencies, knowledge and skills in more than a dozen workshops on project management, project planning, cooperation and communication in multicultural teams, promotion of initiatives on social media, change management, leadership, etc. The workshops were led by SGH experts and representatives of leading companies such as EY, Henkel, P&G and JP Morgan.
The practical workshops were complemented by plenary sessions, during which students participating in the Forum presented their organizations and projects. The presentation of ongoing student projects at CIVICA universities provided valuable inspiration for new initiatives and ventures that students can undertake in the coming months. Projects and initiatives included a podcast series on European identity, a student-led conference on sustainability, a summer school on social entrepreneurship, and a hackathon on digital democracy, among others.
The Forum was highly appreciated by students and early-stage researchers. It provided a unique chance to benefit from the experiences and good practices developed by student organizations at different universities, as well as an excellent opportunity to network with peers from different countries and disciplines, and to develop ideas and project proposals. The event also emphasized the value of the CIVICA Alliance as a platform for cooperation and mutual learning as well as building strong ties and relationships at the level of institutionalized and individual student activities.
Organizing SAF is one of the milestones of Work Package 9 (WP9) within the CIVICA Erasmus+ project, which is coordinated by SGH and focuses on student involvement in alliance activities. WP9 aims to enhance students’ experience and engagement in CIVICA work and increase the Alliance’s visibility and impact among the broader academic and social communities.
Students and early-stage researchers from CIVICA universities and from Ukraine also had an opportunity for integration and networking meetings aimed at building the CIVICA student community and establishing institutional contacts at the level of student unions and organizations. The CIVICA Student Association Forum was not only a learning opportunity, but also an interesting and memorable experience for the participants. In addition to workshops and sessions that covered various topics related to project management and cooperation, students also enjoyed recreational activities that fostered establishing connections, friendships and cooperation. One of the main attractions was a night of bowling, during which students competed in teams and cheered each other on. Another SAF side event was a tango workshop and show, where students had the opportunity to learn the basics of this iconic dance during lessons taught by masters from Argentina and watch professional performances. Integration and networking activities had a significant impact on strengthening ties between participants and building a community of students, and it’s what made the CIVICA Student Association Forum a truly memorable event.
The CIVICA Student Association Forum was held at SGH on 23–25 November 2023. It was organized by the SGH International Centre in cooperation with the SGH Student Union as one of the activities of CIVICA, a network of leading European higher education institutions in the field of social sciences.
MAŁGORZATA CHROMY, deputy director, International Centre, SGH Warsaw School of Economics
KATARZYNA KACPERCZYK, director, International Centre, SGH Warsaw School of Economics