Autumn has arrived. For the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Sciences, this time does not only provide us with the beauty of falling leaves, but also with the annual Autumn School trip to Kääriku. Almost a hundred students from the EU-Russia, Governance & Democracy and the International Relations & Regional Studies got packed into two cozy buses and driven to the winter paradise of Estonia. Taking place for the second time ever, the two-day event featured four experienced speakers from differing fields of expertise.

Kicked off by the respectable Sven Sakkov, the director of the International Centre for Defense and Security, we were immersed in the ins and outs of Estonian security policy. Emphasis was laid on the future of cyber warfare and its consequences for the most digitally adept country of the European Union.

(Photo by: Silver Bohl / Skytte)

Afterwards, he was followed by the head of Communication at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Miss Maria Belovas. She taught us about distinguishing real news from fake news, and talked about the effect of fake news on diplomacy and international relations.

(Photo by: Silver Bohl / Skytte)

Next came Martin Noorkõiv, the young CEO of the Domus Dorpatensis Foundation. This foundation supports youth development and projects. Although I wished he had discussed more about the foundation he is a part of, I really enjoyed his lecture. What I found particularly interesting about this speaker was that he had researched the fringe societies of the alt right and alt left on the internet, and applied social theories to as contemporary a subject as the internet generation.

(Photo by: Silver Bohl / Skytte)

Finally, Ilmar Raag, a famous writer and directive, taught us about the faults made by UN peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Mali. I really found it a shame that he had to cut his lecture short, because I feel like he could have gone on for hours without losing my attention for even a second. I have always been interested in the Mali conflict, and learning so much about it was a chance I wouldn’t have missed in the world.

(Photo by: Silver Bohl / Skytte)

Of course, there was much more to this autumn school than just the lectures by the invited speakers. There was also plenty of time for fun and socializing. Together with two of the accompanying professors of the University, Prof. Vello Pettai and Prof. Eiki Berg, as well as about a dozen fellow students, we hiked to the Watchtower. I could actually see Latvia from there!

(Photo by: Wouter Heemskerk)

In the evening we all participated in a contest of Political Trivia, then came the time for sauna, which was quite hot. Worth mentioning, that it was my first time going to an Estonian sauna.

On Sunday morning we had breakfast and headed back to Tartu, exhausted but satisfied after a long weekend. I definitely had a great time in Kääriku. Not only did I learn many interesting new things, I also made some new friends for the road that lies ahead yet. Overall, in the end, that is all we need, and I shall definitely recommend this school for everyone willing to learn, share and enjoy!

Written By:
Wouter Heemskerk (Netherlands)
MA in International Relations and Regional Studies

Cover Photo By: 
Fumie Nakamura