Pledge to make a difference, together.
Board of European Students of Technology is a non-profit and non-political organisation that since 1989 strives to improve communication, cooperation and exchange opportunities for European students. The mission of BEST is to help students achieve an international mindset, reach a better understanding of cultures and societies and develop the capacity to work in culturally diverse environments. To achieve this mission BEST offers high quality services to technology students all over Europe. These services include a European engineering competition, academic courses, career events and events on educational involvement. BEST offers these events in 96 European Universities, spread among 34 countries, reaching over one million students, with the help of 3300 members.
It is BEST's mission to provide complementary, non-formal education in every event that it organises. This to make sure that the students that are reached grow to their full potential before they enter the job market. It is essential for BEST to show students the value of complementary education, not only to widen their perspective on the technology topics covered in their studies, but also to teach them the needed soft skills. To begin, these soft skills are covered in BEST's events by bringing students together with its two other stakeholders, universities and companies, and letting them dialog. Secondly, BEST provides specific training sessions to teach students how to acquire these skills in a safe and stimulating environment among peers. Lastly, this is done not only towards outside students, but also towards BEST's own members. By letting them organise events after they had a thorough knowledge transfer and did some in-depth training sessions, they acquire a lot of hands-on experience that makes them valued assets on the job market.
In all this soft skill acquirement, there is one thing that makes BEST special: everything happens in a culturally diverse environment. BEST's volunteers really learn how to cooperate with project members from all over Europe and also the outside students are introduced to a specific mindset that BEST likes to call 'the BEST spirit'. This means that everyone works together, respecting each other's backgrounds, to achieve a common goal: empower students and give them a voice in today's society.
For this donation campaign BEST would focus on the educational involvement that it stimulates among European students. It is namely very unique that an organisation run by students offers their peers a voice by collecting data in surveys and events and presenting that data to the relevant authorities. BEST, therefore, attends a lot of conferences about education to be able to share our outcomes to the fullest.
We hope to raise some donations in this campaign to be able to carry out next year's planning around the theme of Digital Literacy. This theme focuses on how prepared students and universities are for the upcoming digitisation wave. It raises the question of how we will learn and teach digital skills and how industry 4.0 will make its way into our education. For this program BEST invests in conducting surveys, doing symposia on education and writing scientific papers with the purpose of disseminating the outcomes.
It is not the first time that BEST is going to conduct such an Educational Involvement Programme. Last year, for example, the theme was 'Diversity in STEM education' and the years before we covered topics such as pedagogical skills, new teaching methods, relation between university and industry, etc.
So what were the steps BEST undertook to create all the materials around last year's topic? First, a team was created to do research on existing literature about 'Diversity in (STEM) education'. Based on that research a survey was created in which 4 diversity types were tackled: cultural diversity, ethnic diversity, gender diversity and students with disabilities. Then, after the answers of the survey were gathered and analysed, the subtopics for the BEST Symposia on Education were identified: in this case, each symposium had a different diversity type. The same team that worked on the content creation of the symposia also prepared and delivered the sessions of those symposia. After the events, the input of all the participating students is gathered in a scientific report, which is then either published in conferences, or disseminated through social media and newsletters.
The approach used last year proved to be a successful one and will be repeated in this year's Educational Involvement Programme. If we manage to get more funds via Global Giving, this will mean that we can elaborate this process and spend more resources on content creation, promotion of the surveys and dissemination of our results. In short: we will be able to make a lot more noise in the educational world.
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