A very warm welcome to all of you!

January 10, 2011 in News by M.A. EYS Team

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the M.A. EYS Short Course!

It has been many years in the making. We hope that you will benefit from it and, in doing so, will also contribute to the development of the full M.A. in European Youth Studies, for which the Short Course is a pilot. It is a pilot in many ways. It seeks to be innovative in the recruitment of participants, endeavouring to draw a balance of individuals with backgrounds in youth research, youth policy and youth practice. It involves a significant consortium of European universities whose staff contribute in a variety of ways. It seeks to incorporate and integrate content that spans, inter alia, European Youth Realities and Policy, European Youth Research and Theoretical Foundations. But most crucially perhaps, it aspires to a creative methodology, one which can accommodate modern virtual, in harness with more traditional teaching and learning methods, and one which accords equal respect across the spectrum from formal to non-formal educational pedagogy.

Some twenty years ago a network of youth researchers across Europe formed. It had an explicit policy commitment, borne out of Europe’s renewed opening up after 1989. This was also a political commitment, given both changes in the social construction of the life-course and the striking disparities in life chances that were prospectively going to guide and govern the pathways of young people in their working, family and civic lives. The network wanted to contribute to that political and policy debate, and to engage with youth practice. It started to do so in many ways, not least through the Circle of Youth Research Cooperation in Europe (CYRCE) and the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee 34, which established the first generation of young youth researchers seminars that subsequently prompted the establishment of the European Commission/Council of Europe Youth Partnership youth research seminars. By the end of the 1990s, its members were embedded, for example, in the initial work of the first Partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Commission in the youth field (on Quality and Curriculum Development), and in the process that saw the emergence of the European Commission’s White Paper on Youth, launched in 2001. The former led to the ATTE course (Advanced Training for Trainers in Europe), which has cemented a programme of European level youth worker training that manifests itself most recently in the TALE course (Trainers for Active Learning in Europe). The latter produced a youth policy momentum within the European Union that led to recent initiatives such as “Investing and Empowering” and “Youth on the Move”.

From within this European network of youth researchers, a group emerged who were committed to consolidating this practice and policy evolution with a youth research-based initiative in higher education that might take what has come to be known as the ‘magic triangle’ of youth research, policy and practice to, arguably greater heights. Led by Lynne Chisholm from the University of Innsbruck, eleven university members of a core consortium, together with a number of associate partners, have worked for four years on a voluntary basis and then, with the support of an EU Erasmus Lifelong Learning Programme curriculum development grant, for two years on a more formal footing. The Short Course in which you are participating lies at the heart of this curriculum development process.

The original Council of Europe research network has now transmuted into the recently established Pool of European Youth Researchers (PEYR), supported by the European Commission/Council of Europe Partnership in the youth field, whose task will be to contribute to stronger evidence-based youth policy making. The economic circumstances that now prevail in Europe also mean that youth practice will now both have to provide more robust evidence of its ‘value’ as well as root its activities more firmly within frameworks of understanding about ‘what works’. Youth policy, for its part, continues to struggle to establish its voice and its distinctive contribution beyond and towards social, educational, employment and cultural policy making. These are difficult challenges that raise numerous tensions and dilemmas – socially, politically, intellectually, and ethically. The Short Course is explicitly about addressing such tensions, and we hope this will be achieved through collaborative endeavour by both staff and students of the course.

Welcome.

Lynne Chisholm & Howard Williamson
Short Course Directors

Photo credit: blogadoon