SALTO-YOUTH Title

Youthful Europe

Youthful Europe

NOTE:  The educational website www.youthful-europe.eu will open in the end of January 2017. Until then, this site will provide information about the project "Youthful Europe".

 

The learning programme “Youthful Europe” is an initiative of the Austrian, German and Polish National Agencies for the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme and the three regional SALTO Centres (SEE, EECA and Euromed) responding to a need to provide perspectives for addressing the European dimension in youth work and to promote the empowerment of young people taking an active role in envisaging future Europe.

 »Europe is a state of mind that goes beyond a grouping of nation states, an internal market and the geographical contours of a continent. Europe is a moral and political responsibility, which must be carried out, not only by institutions and politicians, but by each and every European. Europe is a source of inspiration from the past, it is emancipation in the present, and an aspiration towards a sustainable future. Europe is an identity, an idea, an ideal«.

European Commission: New narrative for Europe, Declaration »The mind and body of Europe«*

Background

Growing up in global uncertainty: the challenges of contemporary European youth

The concept of Europe has been for many synonymous with modernity, affluence and civic values, such as democracy, and respect for human rights. These notions have long constituted the common narrative of Europe, despite of much destabilising political and societal turmoil in the past. Therefore the mere idea of Europe has been a crucial catalyst for integration, sense of shared identity and interdependency in the continent.

Due to the increasing European international and transnational cooperation, namely after the collapse of the communist regimes from 1989 onwards, especially young people became evermore socialised to European citizenship and sense of belonging in addition to their national or local identifications. International mobility enabled a growing number of young people to travel, study and work in another European country, in particular within the European Union. The developing information and communication technology and deregulation of border controls brought “Europe” also to the daily lives of young people, enabling them to associate with it in their local environments.

However, following the recent economic and socio-political challenges, the sense of belonging in, and commitment to Europe has begun to unravel, evoking political extremism and xenophobia. Consequently, the idea of unified Europe has begun to represent a threat instead of an opportunity for many young people, who are struggling for economic independence and self-actualisation in the midst of accumulating uncertainties.

The fragmentation of the common narrative has a multiple effect in the geographically peripheral Europe, such as in the regions neighbouring the European Union*, where the sense of belonging is to a lesser extent formally consolidated. Together with the existing geopolitical and interethnic tensions within the regions, the young people in the Western Balkans, Easter Partnership countries, Russian Federation and South-Mediterranean countries are in an even higher risk of feeling alienated from the idea of a common Europe than their peers in the European Union, generating suspicion in both sides.

Nevertheless, looking back, Europe has proven to hold a remarkable potential to renew itself -a process in which the cultural and intellectual heritage constituting the European ideal has played an important role. At the same time, Europe needs to recognise that its strength is not geographically or culturally exclusive; the same virtues are applicable elsewhere in the world too.  Whether Europe can thrive in the future depends on the political management of current challenges, supported by the civic engagement of its citizens.

Young people in the forefront of shaping tomorrow’s Europe

Youth work as a civic practice gives space for young people to realise active citizenship and provoke their personal development by enabling them to face challenges in a safe environment. In particular, transnational youth mobility, such as activities within the frame of Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme, young people get a chance to acquire competences and new perspectives in a European setting together with their peers from other countries.

However, often the European dimension in youth work, even in the projects within the Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme, remains distant or abstract. It is difficult for both, young participants and project leaders to address it effectively, as the concept is namely without a fixed definition. In the context of the learning programme “Youthful Europe”, Europe is understood rather as a perspective and potential than something inherently conclusive; every definition is relevant only contextually. European geographical borders can appear very different when defining them in different historical, political or ethnical terms, or for example according to the variety of religious practices associated with Europe. However, the learning programme recognises and promotes the variety of existing frameworks and mechanisms for identification or active citizenship in Europe, although they might not be equally relevant or even available in all European contexts. Many methods are introduced and used to bridge the abstract ideas of Europe to how they are or can be integrated in concrete practices of youth work in the local level and in the daily lives of young people.

Primarily the “Youthful Europe” aims at promoting hope, solidarity and sense of belonging among young Europeans. Youth work has the potential tow strive towards the empowerment of young people, and reflecting that, the learning programme opens perspectives on how Europe can be understood as a platform for empowerment of today’s youth, to whom locality and nationality no longer provide a sufficient framework for identity and political agency. As a big part of young people’s action is in the new media, the tools provided for the youth work practitioners to address the topic are selected accordingly.

Structure of the learning programme “Youthful Europe”

The programme has a long-term perspective consisting of residential training courses (including an e-learning phase prior to and after the residential activity) implemented semi-annually in the regions of Partner Countries within the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme neighbouring the European Union (Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership countries and Russian Federation and South-Mediterranean countries), as well as the development of an e-learning tool to better enable youth work practitioners to address the topic of Europe with young people.
 

  • The next edition of the learning programme will be associated with the Eastern Partnership region and will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia in 27th of March - 1st of April 2017. The call for participants is available here. The call will be open until 5th of February 2017. The prior e-learning phase will begin six weeks prior to the residential activity and continue four weeks afterwards. More information of the programme of activities is available here.
  • The e-learning tool is under development and will be completed in summer 2016. It will have two parts:
     
    • Educational website www.youthful-europe.eu (opening in January 2017) consisting of information on the topic. The website will be complemented by an application for tablets and smart phones, created through the “Actionbound”( https://en.actionbound.com/ ), adding an interactive element to the site. The website will function as the basis for the topics covered in the residential training courses, contextualising them and providing more in-depth information. At the same time, it aims to function as an independent entity, which can be useful beyond those who take part in the training courses. Additionally, it will function as an instrument to bring publicity to the learning module as such. For this purpose, the website will be connected to the relevant social media. The related application will be a basis for practical exercises, through which the European dimension of one’s local environment can be explored and shared in a creative manner.
    • A closed E-learning platform for the selected participants of each call for participants. The e-learning platform (based on a Moodle platform) will provide the participants a chance to get acquainted with the topic, communicate among each other and carry out facilitated assignments prior arriving to the residential activity. And afterwards. Selected outcomes of the assignments will be incorporated in the residential training courses.

Past cooperation in the frame of “Youthful Europe”

The concept of the learning programme is based on a series of training courses organised by the German National Agency for the YOUTH / Youth in Action / Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programmes on the topic, organised first in the national level in Germany and later internationally in different countries of Europe since 2004.  The programme builds on previous experiences, however the approach has been adapted to correspond contemporary realities of young people and youth work in Europe. Until today, the project has grown into a joint initiative of already three Erasmus+: Youth in Action National Agencies and all regional SALTO Resource Centres. Dialogue with the regions neighbouring the European Union is an integral element of the learning programme,

Aim and objectives

The aim of the learning programme is to provide youth work practitioners with a possibility to explore and critically reflect on different approaches towards Europe through three of its constitutive elements: identity, values and active participation and further inspire young people to see Europe as an opportunity.

Objectives:

  • to provide the participants with an opportunity to express and review their thoughts and feelings of Europe;
  • to discover diverse perceptions of Europe and concrete realities of youth work and young people in European communities;
  • to develop insight on personal identity and values and develop understanding on how they are reflected in the European context;
  • to deepen the understanding of what means to be an active citizen in Europe and stimulate creative approaches of practising it;
  • to discover different approaches of non-formal education towards opening perspectives and supporting young people in using Europe as an opportunity;
  • to motivate participants to use the possibilities offered by the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme.

The target group for the programme is youth work practitioners who are:

  • working directly with young people;
  • interested in the reflection and further learning on the topic of Europe and the empowerment of young people to understand and experience Europe as an opportunity;
  • motivated to apply the acquired competences in the local youth work practice;
  • able to commit to participate in the entire programme, including the e-learning phase prior and after the training course (see the programme of activities for further information);
  • able to work effectively in English;
  • over 18 years old;

We welcome applicants with a diverse level of prior international experience.

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