The university of Tartu is an incubator for ideas, in which students are able to be creative and take initiatives. A few weeks ago, philosophizing about the world with a Turkish friend of mine, we had the great idea of organizing roundtable sessions for students every week. The idea came to us, when we realized that living in Tartu, is a door to the world. As political scientists, we like to know what’s going on around. Usually people read their news online, in the language they speak, but hardly get to understand the perspective of actual citizens of discussed countries. So we thought about the format, how could we organize it? What should we discuss? Who should come? All these random questions to organize our thoughts into a feasible project. The thing is that when the dark and cold winter arrives, you want to sit down with your friends, talk, and learn. That is why, we thought, that we should make use of our situation and make it happen.

How did we do it?

We made a FB event, gave a call to the school – booked a room. That’s it. No bureaucracy or whatsoever. In France, you’d probably need an insurance or whatever. Here things are easy and smooth. The school trusts its students – and pushes them to go forward.

The idea of the “student roundtable of Johan Skytte Institute of political sciences” is chill: we gather every Friday at 18.30, before the week-end starts, and we wrap up the week. Every topic is welcome – every background is welcome. The core idea is to have a round table in which people can present some things happening at home, some topics being discussed in their countries. We would have a round, in which each of us would speak for a few minutes, bring discussions to the table, all are welcome to comment, reply, explain their national perspective. In a sense, we represent our countries, a small committee of curious minds, willing to learn and share things.

When things actually happened, we were surprised by its success, we got quite enthusiastic. The first roundtable brought together people from Japan, Hong-Kong, Belarus, France, Turkey, The Netherlands, Singapore, Ukraine, Italy, Romania and Armenia. We just brought interesting things and talked about them. It was cool. We understood the potential of the event. So we decided to organize it a bit better: now that we know how it goes, what it feels, we can start organizing the thing.

It’s easy:

The first half an hour are about all talking for a few minutes, about news that we want to share. Things that you’d like to tell the world. I brought the stories of the “Paradise Papers” which were a big deal in France recently. Others spoke about the meeting between the Turkish president and E. Musk. Loads of random things that expand your mind. Come be yourself, and bring your critical perspective on things you know. Or just come and listen to them, its educative as well.

The second half an hour is for people to present things they like, stuff they feel, events they experienced, everything. A little Ted Talk between friends if you’d like. You wrote a super interesting essay this week? You want to hear what the other think about the topic discussed? Well come and tell us! You went to a conference, and want to present what you concluded from it? You want to train to defend your thesis? Or to give a presentation? Maybe you simply want to discuss something that matters to you? Well just come and do it! We are curious, we don’t judge, we just want to learn!

The last half an hour is a round table based upon pre-organized topics. During the week prior to the event, we post on the FB group of the roundtable, few topics that we’d like to talk about. Topics we want to make you think of. We want to get an international debate on some concepts; you are a really good asset. We want to know how the media perceive some event in your country, we want to know how your country deals with some issues etc.

For example, this week, we want to speak about:

  1. The European expansion to the East.
  2. Populism after economic recession: The raising populism in Europe.

Feel free to come by, listen or give your perspective on all these things! Knowledge is a collaborative work; we need to share to expand the network.

The event takes place every Friday, between 18.30 and 20.00, at Lossi-36 (up the hill, you know, the tiring one) in the room (check the Facebook page, it might change occasionally). Feel free to contact me for more info: chavanne.kevin@gmail.com.

The Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1966547943599602/

The Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1719216831424715/

Written By:
Kevin Chavanne (France)
MA in Democracy and Governance

Photos By:
Kevin Chavanne