Vision Journey embarking on their path in Copenhagen

How can young students and professionals be part of making systemic change a reality? This question sparked the opening days of the world’s largest climate innovation summer school when young minds from across the world embarked on the Journey – a four-week intensive learning programme focused on creating sustainable change across systems.

Over 400 participants representing 50 different nationalities are taking part in the full-time, intensive, residential learning programme hosted by top global universities. This summer, students and young professionals gather for nine Journeys covering various locations across Europe, with the separate Journeys culminating – for the first time – in two Community Summits in July and August.

Local context of climate change

In the end of June, we welcomed 40 of these young change makers to Copenhagen, Denmark, with the University of Copenhagen acting as the host for the first 10 days for the Journey named Vision.

During these past days, the participants have not only been introduced to climate innovation by world renowned experts in climate change, innovation and business, but also acquainted themselves to the highly interdisciplinary group of fellow participants and explored Copenhagen like true locals – navigating the city on bikes.

The group has explored topics ranging from climate change, systems thinking, sustainable land use and innovation to sustainable fashion, architecture and research of ice cores as well as getting hands-on insights in entrepreneurship and the life of start-ups. 

The topics have been explored in their home campus at the University of Copenhagen, at various site visits to for example the Botanical GardensKalundborg SymbiosisThe Royal Danish Academy of Fine ArtsThe National History Museum of Denmark and DTU Skylab or through inspirational talks and activities from start-ups like FlorBugging Denmark and Copenhagen Surf School.

Carefully designed programme

The theoretical lectures, site visits and talks by start-ups and EIT Climate-KIC alumni have all been chosen and designed to give the participants an overview of the host location in the context of climate change and the opportunity to discover how the system in the host location operates.

The broad and comprehensive programme provides the participants with knowledge and insights in the diversity of challenges facing cities today, but also the opportunity to experiment and discover climate innovation- and possible business solutions that lie within these challenges.

Understandably, curiosity towards the context of climate change and climate solutions was stated as one of the main reasons and motivations to apply to the Journey by many participants. According to Panayota, participating in the Journey also provides a unique platform for building networks in the field.

“I wanted to learn a lot more of this field and meet people who have the same vision as me of working in the field of climate change and sustainability”.

Exploring the design questions 

While the participants got a thorough introduction to the context of climate change from a diversity of perspectives during the first days in Copenhagen, they also started to articulate their interests in the field and mapping their personal trajectories for the upcoming weeks.

“It’s really great to have a diverse group from many different backgrounds and countries come together to collaborate on such a big project”

says Emmeline. As a highly interdisciplinary group representing a range of unique backgrounds and expertise, their interests are understandably also as diverse as the group itself.

However, a number of common themes emerged when navigating through an array of exercises, with these themes covering for example the behavioural dimensions of catalysing change, collaboration across stakeholders, the need for systemic change, sustainable ways of living and building – but above all, a strong sense of finally transitioning from talk to action.  

The challenge for the next few days as the group makes their way to their next destination Zürich, Switzerland, is to define and decide on the design questions they will address and work with during the coming weeks.  

“I’m expecting that we’ll be able to start formulate a nice plan to create a start-up together and collaborate and streamline all our ideas to bring together something really amazing that can have a positive impact and tackle climate change.”

– Emmeline, Vision Journey

Expert coaches facilitating the Journey

Each Journey has a team of two coaches guiding, facilitating and following the participants on their four-week expedition. The Journey is also a unique experience for them, as they’re given the opportunity to work together with a generation that has proven to be very dedicated and with a strong desire to tackle the challenges posed by climate change.  

Team Vision is followed by the coaches Meret and Rowan, who have witnessed the enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and critical thinking of the group from day one, and who will continue to do so in Zürich and the Community Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The Vision couches both have a clear and resounding message to the rest of the young change makers taking part in a Journey this summer: to take advantage of each other, create a movement and to engage all the people we can in these conversations and explorations for new solutions.

As the Vision group prepared themselves for the next leg on their joint Journey, there was clear excitement and anticipation in the air of what was next to come. When asked about what would characterise their particular Journey from all the other ones taking place this summer, they replied with their very own slogan:

“Multiple paths – one Vision”. 

You can follow team Vision and all the other Journeys on their path on becoming change makers of our time on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and by following the hashtag #ClimateJourney on the various platforms. For more pictures from the participants’ time in Copenhagen, please follow the link below.