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Project management, Science Communication, Event management, Advocacy | Bern, Switzerland | 2016 | 1.5 years

Partner: Mountain Research Initiative

About

The Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) is an international network that envisions a world in which research to understand global change challenges and opportunities in mountains is conducted across borders and disciplines, with and for society, in order to generate knowledge that enables decisions, actions, and transformations towards sustainable development. The Swiss-Austrian Alliance for Mountain Research (CH-AT) is one of the regional networks of the MRI jointly administered by MRI and an Austrian partner.

Role & Tasks

I worked to the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) as a project manager, communication and event manager associate with the Swiss-Austrian Alliance for Mountain Research (CH-AT). I facilitated the bilateral activities of the two countries with planning and moderating conference calls and discussions with diverse partners. In the framework of the same collaboration, I developed an alternative format event in Brussels “Guided tour to find the mountains in Brussels” and arranged advocacy meetings with representatives from European Commission. Later on, until MRI board would appoint a new director, I coordinated a team of researchers from European Universities. What I find successful from this collaboration is that my facilitation efforts to the team to develop a common white paper was fruitful; a new active network, the NEMOR was formed.

Project management: Remotely I supported and facilitated a team of around fifteen researchers across European Universities to develop a white paper which was utilised as the basis to form a network, the Network for European Mountain Research (NEMOR). The task included to engage the researchers and align them in a strategy, plan and moderate conference calls and discussion with diverse partners, preparing the agenda for meetings and calls, leading participants through the discussions, as well as taking notes and distributing them along with tasks after the calls. Communication tasks such as gathering content for MRI’s newsletter or website’s operation were also part of my activities.

Advocacy in Brussels: Supporting the CH-AT Coordinator in a campaign to advocate for mountain research with the EU in Brussels. This work included a three-day training with Swiss Core in Brussels about the functioning of decision making in the EU authorities, and the application of the knowledge gained there in the shaping of the outreach plan for the strategic research agenda “Mountains for Europe’s Future“.

Science Communication: “Guided tour to find the mountains in Brussels”, the first part of the event “Mountains for Europe’s Future: Putting mountains on the Horizon 2020 agenda”, 25 April 2016, Brussels, Belgium. The tour makes participants experience the unexpected presence and relevance of mountains even in a faraway location such as Brussels with an altitude not much above sea level! Mountains are more important for Europe than one normally assumes. In this way, why these aspects of mountain research are crucial for future research programmes were highlighted in the tour. The tour took place around the Parc du Cinquantainaire with six stations. In each station, researchers with focus from each field of the Agenda strategic research agenda “Mountains for Europe’s Future” presented the relevance of the spot to the mountain research and provided to guests with a souvenir. This was a project assigned to me by the Coordinator of the event. The activity included elaborating the concept for this new event format, negotiating with and briefing of the speakers of the tour, defining the locations and the route, conceptualising and producing all materials for the diverse topics, collaborating with the partners on the ground, and giving written and instructions to speakers and participants.

Event management: “CH-AT Mountain Workshop”, 9 and 10 June 2016, Bern, Switzerland. I was responsible for the content, structure and the logistics of this two days’ event. This task included elaborating the concept for the event, proposing a structure that would allow us to reach the defined objectives, engaging a facilitator (and a visual facilitator) and further developing the event together, developing the communication material (flyer, text for newsletter,  documents for website before and afterwards), managing the division of work, the timeline and the calls with the partners, organizing the rooms for the plenary and the Open Space part of the event, organizing all catering as well as the evening program,* briefing the speakers about their inputs, handling all logistic and technical issues and hosting during the event with a sustainable event strategy. This event was the closing up of the CH-AT network from the 5 years.

* The evening programme was hosted in the Lichtspiel in Bern, the Cinematheque Berne. Short films with reels where screened linked to mountains, from documentary about the construction of a dam in Switzerland to advertisements and others.

What stays in my memory from this collaboration: This collaboration was very fruitful and unique from different aspects. First, I had the chance to experience the management strategies of my group leader, and now friend, Claudia Drexler who took care with great responsibility the following up of the project with securing budget and taking care for her replacement. Then, I am very satisfied with the facilitation work to the team of researchers who formed the new network. Until then, I experienced the importance of defining roles and the process of decision making. Last but not least, I gained some training in EU funding schemes which gave me insights, as a European citizen as well, on how EU strategy on research is shaped.