1) My profile and what I expect from the course: I have been attending two Master’s degree programs – International Relations and Economic Policy, both at the Masaryk University in Brno. At the Bachelor’s level I also studied Journalism & Media, besides International Relations and European Studies. In order to compensate mentally oriented studies, I devote my leisure time to a range of relaxing activities such as long walks with my dog, hiking, skiing, cycling, swimming, yoga, gardening or jewellery-making.
With regard to the topic of the course, I can say I am very concerned about the path our society follows and I am glad to see that the number of conscious people is growing. At school, regrettably, I do not have many opportunities to learn about the sustainable development (as compared to the growth itself). I solely passed several subjects concerning energy security and sources of energy which represents a related topic. This is why I visit open public lectures and workshops on the house construction using ecological materials, permaculture gardening or biofarming. This year for example I visited a lecture on the economy of human coexistence with nature and soon I plan to participate in removal of rubbish out of the Orlice River. Lately I wrote a paper called Stop Wasting the Waste about waste treatment in the Czech Republic.
Thanks to my interest, I can say I already obtained an idea about the topic. From the course, however, I expect a lot. I am especially curious about the experiences from abroad and also about the views of my colleagues studying at various Czech universities and faculties. I would like to hear the experts speaking about positive global trends (the negative are well known) and about legislation in the area of sustainable development. I also imagine it would be great to get there inspiration for my thesis. Regarding the site visit to Štěchovice – I went there just last summer. Anyway, I am looking forward to exploring the surroundings of Týnec if there will be space (I really love spending time outdoors). And, finally, I am glad I will have a chance to fix my spoken English after a long while, just at the same time I hope to meet all-round toleration and help. :-)
2) An inspirational initiative / project contributing to the sustainable development of the area where I live: Across the Czech Republic I have met many inspirational projects rendering the idea of sustainability. Concerning East Bohemia, the area where I live, I can present you a project of eco-housing. More accurately it is a family house built out of natural materials such as straw or clay and it is accompanied by a root zone wastewater treatment plant. It is situated in the village of Oucmanice, close to Choceň. The owners are a family (parents and two children) conducting an educational eco-centre situated in the same village. From outside the house has mimicry – its shape is regular and for the first sight you would not recognize that it is somehow “different”, which was intended. The construction from A to Z lasted for three years and the authors managed it mostly through organizing workshops for interested people and volunteers. I actively participated in this project in 2011. For more info visit: http://sup.ekoserver.cz/ekodum/.
3) Final Assignment – what I have learned about at the course: The program of the Spring School was very intensive. We got a chance to learn the basics about many different areas connected with sustainability. Regarding new knowledge, the topic that truly enriched me was a concept of eco-economic decoupling. As the relation with my fields of study (International Relations and Economic Policy) is obvious I decided to write a thesis on this subject. I specifically would like to focus on relevance of the indicators that the international community uses for describing tendency in correlation between economic activity and environmental pressure. Most probably it will not be easy by no means to evaluate each indicator and I will definitely need to consult an expert. My intention is to bring this, in my eyes very important topic to my university department since there is unfortunately still no scholar with special interest in sustainable development. I wish the environmental context to be naturally incorporated in thoughts of economists as well as political scientists and analysts.
To review the course as a whole, I appreciate the learning model of creating outputs through cooperation in groups and by role playing. This is not a common approach in the academic environment nevertheless I consider it very effective. On the other hand I would welcome more challenging activities in the “learning by experience” way, e. g. a guided simulation of a realistic problem in terms of SD or a workshop on re-using waste materials etc. Also one more field trip (could be a short one) on another topic than water and hydropower plant would be beneficial as specific setting combined with fresh air and motion always bring great ideas. In conclusion I would like to say I am very grateful for being able to enjoy such a friendly and inspiring ambient in a community of people with different background who are actively interested in the range of side effects of global economic trends as well as in the solutions. In order to establish sustainable way of living in our society it is indispensable to put conscious people together and that can be considered the biggest contribution of the course. Many thanks to all participants – students, lecturers and organizers!