The Cambridge Baltic Conference project was established and launched last year and attracted over 300 guests with a panel of extraordinary speakers, including Valdas Adamkus, the President of Lithuania, and Siim Kallas, the Vice-President of the European Commission. The conference received great attention from the media since the distinguished panel discussed key issues relating to science, politics and business, which also inspired the theme for this year’s conference. This autumn, the event promises to be no less stimulating and more than just an exciting start to the new academic year at Cambridge University. Above all, it is an opportunity to reflect on an area that is relevant to all members of society, which is education.
This year’s conference comes back to the objectives set by the event in 2013 and aims to depict new challenges and provide new insights for and from the Baltic States. Spread over two days, 10-11th October in the historic debate chamber of the world-famous Cambridge Union Society, the conference will kick off with a day of interactive workshops designed for and by university students, as well as professional experts and Google. One of the missions of the conference is to directly empower those that are in education, rather than leaving these issues in the hands of those who have long left their institutions of schooling. In addition to leadership training, the workshops will test and develop students’ debating and public speaking skills. The expectation is that through this practice, students will hone their abilities which will equip them with knowledge and confidence to speak out and challenge the experts at the main event the following day.
On the Saturday, a host of education related issues will be addressed in the structure of four related but separate sessions. Each session will include an inspiring speech from a leading professional and will be followed by a panel discussion on the respective topic and here students will be given the chance to ask challenging questions. Over 400 attendees are expected at this part of the event.
The conference will open with a keynote speech from Dr Roberts Ķīlis, former Latvian Minister of Education and Science, on "Skills versus Knowledge in Secondary Education" panel. In today’s graduate market, few fail to notice that employers are putting emphasis on what they call transferable skills, which include problem solving, critical thinking and interpersonal communication. Undoubtedly, they increasingly prioritise these over specific subject knowledge. The first session will address this phenomenon in relation to the current and future education and work situation in the Baltic States. This will be followed by a keynote speech by Maive Rute, Director at Directorate-General for Science and Innovation at the European Commission. While the second session will focus on "Best Practices in Higher Education" and raise discussion on what university-level education entails in both the Baltic and States and UK; the penultimate topic "Does Education Foster Entrepreneurship?" will question whether academic degrees are even necessary for successful business men and women such as Bill Gates and the like. The conference shall culminate with the closing session, which looks towards the future with "Future Trends and Innovations in the Field of Education" and attempts to speculate, where current methods of teaching and learning will take the young people of today and tomorrow.
It is hoped that the aforementioned topics will encourage dialogue between generations and segments of the public, particularly between students and those that direct their education. There will be ample opportunities at the two-day event for students, thinkers, entrepreneurs and politicians to connect, collide and create. Frequent breaks in between these expectedly heated debates provide a platform to facilitate the exchange of ideas in a less formal setting. In addition, limited places will be available for those wishing to dine and network at Trinity Hall, one of Cambridge University’s finest and historic colleges.
The conference is organised entirely by student members of Baltic Countries’ societies at Cambridge University, which bring together over a hundred of active and impressive young people. Many of them will have had previous experience in organising and managing other projects and their dedication to the conference is a testament to their motivation to take initiative and become innovators in education. As regards the future, the committee is confident that the conference will remain a long term and repeated project and continue to bring together and inspire members of different generations and industries. At the end of the day, education does not end at graduation from school or university.
The organisers of Cambridge Baltic Conference 2014 would like to take this opportunity to express their gratitude to several businesses for their kind sponsorship. Equally, they are greatly indebted to a great number of partners for their invaluable cooperation. The up-to-date list of these can be found on the conference’s website and the committee would like to highlight that new potential sponsors or partners are most welcome and should not hesitate to get in touch.
We cordially invite fellow students and all those with any form of interest in teaching or learning to come and rethink education with us. To be kept updated about the conference, please visit the official event’s website or the Facebook page.
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