©Eric Paul

With its first Student Conference, the FORTHEM Alliance devoted three whole days to the important aspect of student involvement. The goal of the exchange was to strengthen links between students and to empathize their voice in the FORTHEM Alliance. Using a creative and collaborative approach, the participants set out to develop new ideas for involving more students in the Alliance’s many activities. The FORTHEM Student Conference 2020 took place from 7th to 9th of December 2020 and was hosted online by the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz 

Around 25 students from all 7 partner universities took part in the conference. The conference was chaired by Ludmila Samochwalow, Fabian Stephan, Jolina Hartmann & Anna-Lena Roppelt from University of Mainz. They decided to use the three days as a Kick-Off Meeting for an ongoing collaboration within the student groups over the next two months to work on all 4 phases of the Challenge in their detail. 

The ongoing Challenge given to all student groups is:  

How can we improve student involvement in the FORTHEM Alliance? Which incentives are necessary? Which activities could therefore be important?  

Divided into four groups with 4 - 5 people, the students started with the first phase of the Challenge, the so-called Discover Phase, consisting of a discourse between the students asking questions to the FORTHEM staff members and students, researching answers and creating a broader understanding of FORTHEM Alliance and the idea of European University, as well as raising awareness for the problem of student involvement.  

Collaborating on the Miro board – a platform which works like a big white board – the student groups continued working together, recording and creating results of different phases while exploring the challenge. Until mid of February, the different ideas for the involvement of students from all partner universities will be further developed and presented to the alliance.  

Aside from the Challenge approach, the students presented their student representative structures to get an idea of the different systems and how they could connect these structures to help finding ways of student involvement.  

There was one public session during the FORTHEM Students Conference. This session was attended by students and staff from the FORTHEM Alliance universities. Lab Student Speakers were invited to talk from their personal experience about the role of students within the Labs. 

Every evening a social gathering was organized to get to know each other even more personally beyond the group work. 

It was a successful conference and Students would happy to continue the discussions