10 July, 2009

creativity and innovation

Those were the terms that triggered me and set me off to Brussels for a 2-day conference organised by the EU. And what an inspiring 2 days it became!
It was the first time I saw Ján Figel' speak, EU commissioner for education, culture, training and youth. I had read some of his speeches before, but seeing him "live" made me realise how this man really tried to make an impact on the audience by actually speaking to a huge gathering instead of just reading out a text prepared in advance, as did the second speaker Luc Van den Brande, President of the Committee of Regions and Odile Quentin, Director General EAC, in her closing speech. What also struck me was that he stressed the fact that it was all about "making human life more human", his captivating speech was a real message to the listeners and came across as authentic.
I was quite happy about the choice I had made for the session on the crucial role of schools in innovation and fostering creativity. The key issue of new skills needed for new jobs was highlighted and the audience was presented with creative answers to the key question of what to teach in schools to prepare the young generation for these new jobs.
The next day I had decided to go to the session of social innovation to hear a number of fascinating examples of societal entrepreneurship. Turning something seemingly bad into something good, was what all the speakers drove. Budapest Beyond Sightseeing for example is a case in point: it's a different type of city tour that takes the participants to one of the most neglected districts of Budapest where they get to experience the area’s hidden treasures through active participation, stories and encounters with locals, aiming to change the perception of the neighbourhood and its residents. The two people in charge of these social cultural walking tours both come from a social work background.
The conference ended with the rapporteurs summarising the policy conclusions from each of the theme sessions, here's the link to the report.
And here are some of the pictures I took to get a flavour of the whole event.