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Lancaster University hosted an ‘Education, Employability, Empowerment’ (EEE) summit on November 8th to November 10th. A number of high-profile speakers, including the former Prime Minister of Poland, were in attendance, addressing issues around the importance of education while discussing what can be achieved through it.
The three-day summit involved a mix of talks, presentations, workshops and a careers fair, as well as an extensive entertainment programme including an official party. The agenda addressed the political process of education reform, the role of government, comparisons across Europe, student’s employability prospects, building a civil society through education and how schools may reinforce the gender divide in performance and participation.
The opening integration event took place on the evening of November 8th, and the summit got fully underway on the Saturday with a complete day of events and an official banquet and party in the evening. Sunday saw further talks in the morning before workshops and a closing entertainment event.
Around 200 students from Universities across the UK, including University of Oxford, LSE, UCL, University of St Andrews and Lancaster University attended the EEE summit, as well as a number of academic staff. Their ticket guaranteed entry to all events, giving them a chance to see a mix of politicians, social activists, business-people and economists coming together to discuss their ideas and engage with students across two days.
A number of high-profile, influential speakers were in attendance. Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, former Prime Minister of Poland and caretaker President of Warsaw, addressed the complexities of the political reform. Professor Zbigniew Pelczynski, emeritus fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford who includes Bill Clinton in his list of students and has also advised the European Economic Union and the OECD on government reforms, asked how education can create leaders for the twenty-first century. Furthermore, Professor Edward Truch, Professor of Management Science at Lancaster University, founder of the Henley Knowledge Management Research Institute and former political advisor to UK and Polish governments, including Tony Blair’s, discussed the future of work and the implications for education.
Other speakers included the Vice-Minister for Labour and Social Policy in Poland, women’s rights activists, a columnist for the leading Polish newspaper, Chancellor of Kozminski University in Warsaw, an Oxford University Professor and co-founder and President of the King’s Foundation, a charity offering services to young people.
The EEE summit has been organised by the Lancaster University Polish Society, Edinburgh University Polish Society, Lancaster University Economics Society and LUSU. The main organiser is Ksawery Lisiński, President of the Lancaster University Polish Society, who says he was inspired by similar events elsewhere: “I was attending a similar conference at LSE done by their Polish Society and I just wanted to follow their example” Lisiński said.
Speaking to SCAN, Lisiński was very clear about the importance of the summit. “It shows that Lancaster University thinks globally – the
summit will be attended by politicians and activists from Eastern Europe but it will also include workshops and speeches about self-development and leadership. It shows Lancaster is serious about helping students reach their higher potential and help them get experience that will improve their student experience. I think that meeting the former Prime Minister of Poland is of great importance for anyone studying politics.
“Since we have many students coming from outside Lancaster [i.e. from other universities] I hope we will make new bonds, friends and contacts. On top of that this summit is a co-operated project of several societies across our campus. Therefore I hope we will learn how to cooperate in the future and make more joint-events.”
Lisiński also noted the importance of LUSU in bringing the summit about. “I am very grateful to LUSU Involve and Joe Bourne [Innovation and Development Manager at LUSU] for giving us full support, help and motivation to do this project. He gave us advice, shared his experiences [and] pointed out what needed to be done. He was sort of a guide. He also negotiated on our behalf with the University to get the funding, helped us promote the event, put us in touch with useful people”.
The idea for a summit was first conceived by Lisiński back in April, with the hardest part of the process getting the speakers in. “We spent a lot of time researching – we made useful contacts with the Polish Society at Oxford – their president helped us get the contact for the former Prime Minister; in other cases it usually involved calling the newspapers in which other speakers worked, or companies they were associated with. We were constantly being re-directed to different offices until we got the right person. It required patience and resolve, but we had plenty of that.”