All good things come in eights:
The 8th CASEE Conference "Sustainable development in Europe – cooperation between science and practice - What’s the position of Central and South Eastern Europe?” was held at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland from 14-16 May 2017.
Sustainable development as overarching question of the conference refers to the recently released Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations, which are not only in place for the Developing World, but also relevant for Europe and especially for important multipliers like institutions for education and research gathered in the CASEE network.
The official part of the conference was opened by the President of CASEE and Rector of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Prof. DI Dr. Dr.h.c. mult. Martin H. Gerzabek, who emphasized in his welcoming words the importance of the SDGs as input for university development. Universities have to play a major role in implementing the SDGs and bringing them into practice. Rector Prof. Dr hab. Wieslaw Bielawski and Vice-Rector Prof. Dr hab. Michal Zasada of Warsaw University of Life Sciences also warmly welcomed the guests.
The Sustainable Development Goals were also reflected in the three keynote speeches. Whereas Prof. Verena Winiwarter impressed with her historical perspective on the matter and confrontations of the radical impact mankind has had on the planet, Prof. Ewa Rembialkowska showcased various dietary systems to the audience. Finally Prof. Michal Lostak (Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic) and his colleague Lukas Zagata lead the participants of the conference into the “Wild West” or rather “Wild East” of farm succession and ageing in the Czech Republic.
- Prof. Verena Winiwarter (Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria): “Sustainable Development in Historical Perspective“
- Prof. Ewa Rembialkowska (Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland): “Sustainable food production and diets for a green Europe”
- Prof. Michal Lostak & Lukas Zagata (Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic): “Farm succession and ageing of farmers – a challenge to sustainability in CASEE Region”
The warmed-up audience of 114 participants were then released into the following 5 scientific sessions and workshops:
- Session I: “Modern agriculture and rural development (including landscape planning)”
- Session II: “Renewable resources – possibilities and constraints (including forests and biotechnology)”
- Session III: “Sustainable food systems and quality”
- Session IV: “Environmental safety and climate change”
- Session V: “Agricultural engineering” (in cooperation with ATAE, implementing a new partnership into the CASEE conferences)
- Poster Session
- “Experimental Farm Network (EFNet) Workshop”
These sessions of the 8th CASEE Conference served for presenting the latest scientific results in order to promote research and educational activities, to further enhance one’s network and partnerships, to exchange ideas as well as promote scientific information interchange between academics, developers, engineers, practitioners, researchers and students working and/or studying in the Danube region or in certain cases other countries. The added value of CASEE conferences can also be seen in the numerous PhD participants who get the chance to gain insights from senior researchers, get in contact with more established colleagues for future collaborations and all sides can fuel their motivational spirit.
This year was the second year, where the CASEE-In project "Internationalizing CASEE network by introducing innovative mobility activities and defining quality criteria" could send master students to attend the conference as part of the e-learning course “Introduction to Scientific Communication” held by Szent Istvan University, Gödöllö. In Warsaw the students of the five participating partner universities finally met each other in person and could apply the knowledge on presentation techniques and communication rules in the scientific world they gathered in the course together. Furthermore an overview of CASEE Network activities could be shown to the master students. By participating in the CASEE conference the students not only had their first hands-on experience at a scientific conference, but also enhanced their interdisciplinary approach to science. The successful approach to give feedback to the CASEE board and therefore gain a fresh perspective will be repeated this year, as well.
Next to the sessions other additional successful meetings were held, as follows:
- the CASEE-In project meeting, offering the possibility for students from the CASEE network, to participate at the conference and planning further activities like developing guidelines for the internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions
- the Danube AgriFood Master programme "Sustainability in Agriculture, Food Production and Food Technology in the Danube Region" meeting
On Sunday, before the start of the conference, the CASEE Board meeting was held.
Next to the scientific value of the conference, these meetings also provided an excellent breeding ground for other parts of the CASEE community, in which project proposals, networking and workshops can flourish.
At the CASEE General Assembly, held on the last day of the conference, several interesting educational and network projects were presented: e.g. meetings of representatives within the CASEE network, the Erasmus+ Joint degree application of the CASEE Danube AgriFood Master programme, Prof. Gernot Stöglehner (BOKU) presented the idea for a Life Long Learning Platform (Academia Danubiana) and Rector Prof. Florin Stanica introduced the audience to next year's conference's venue, furthermore two candidates for organizing the conferences in 2019 and 2020 were elected: 10th CASEE Conference 2019, the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and the 11th CASEE Conference 2020, the Czech University of Life Sciences.
During the GA a MoU was signed between the network represented by its president Prof. Gerzabek and the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture represented by Dean Prof. Grgic, who also was elected as the newest CASEE board member the same day - welcome on board!
The full scientific programme was combined with a number of attractive social events: on Sunday evening the participants attended the Welcome reception at the Rectorate Building with traditional Polish music presented by the host university's student band.
On Monday evening all the participants were invited to the Water Center to a gorgeous dinner in a fine atomosphere (including a fountain and classical concert of the student band) and could stroll around the gardens having a look at its artificial river and water systems used for experiments.
The EFNet group was invited to see the WULS Wilanow-Obory Experimental Station on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon, the conference participants had the possibility to take a guided tour to the Arboretum in Rogów.
The CASEE Secretariat on behalf of the whole CASEE “family” wants to hereby express its gratitude to the hosts for organising such a pleasant conference and looks forward to the future conference 2018 in Bucharest!
More info on the conference website: http://casee2017.sggw.pl/en/