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Social Capital as a Resource for Sustainable Rural Development

Euracademy Association and the University of Helsinki

Ilmajoki, Finland, 3rd – 11th of June 2005

The Euracademy Association and the University of Helsinki, Institute for Rural Research and Training, Seinäjoki Unit, organize the 4th Summer Academy on
"Social Capital as a Resource for Sustainable Rural Development" to be held in the municipality of Ilmajoki, Finland, 3rd – 11th of June 2005.


The Topic: Promoting Social Capital as a Resource for Sustainable Rural Development

The 4th Summer Academy aims to bring forward the concept of Social Capital and the importance of understanding its different aspects when applying it as a tool to support Sustainable Rural Development. Social Capital is not a simple concept or idea and it has also been criticised for being an overly positive explanation or solution for the challenges confronting Europe’s rural areas. Debating on Social Capital in different contexts and trying to broaden the common understanding of it will be the main goal of the Summer Academy.
The issues scheduled for the 4th Summer Academy introduce the possibilities to understand Social Capital as a vital part of Sustainable Rural Development. The Academy will explore such topics as:
• Community building – how to cumulate Social Capital by strengthening Rural Communities
• Influence of Social Capital on the Economic Development and Entrepreneurship of the Rural Areas
• Social Capital as an element to sustain Cultural Heritage, Tradition and Environment
• Policymaking and Governance in Developing Social Capital throughout Rural Areas
• Civil Society and Social Capital – how the latter helps to enhance the former in the Rural Context

The target group: managers and animators of rural development

The 4th Summer Academy welcomes participants from all over Europe who are actively working as animators or planners in the area of rural development. Professional people working in local or regional governmental agencies, development agencies, the LEADER Programme and other local action groups, along with staff of NGOs or other local groups active in rural development, are all invited. The course is designed for 30 participants. Participants are invited to share their experiences, to acquire new knowledge and skills and to become members of the Euracademy Association. Particular emphasis is placed on group dynamics and on building the capacity of managers and animators to facilitate rural development through effectively promoting social capital as a vital resource for the sustainability of rural areas. Participants should have a reasonable command of English.

The Format: A four-day open session and seminar, study tours and group forum

The 4th Summer Academy will take place at the School of Agriculture of the Seinajoki Polytechnic in Ilmajoki, Finland. It will introduce innovative participatory methods to create a stimulating learning environment, based on the experience of the successful organisation of the previous Summer Academies in Sweden (2002), Greece (2003) and Poland (2004). The first three days include an open session, lectures followed by small group discussions and presentations of the participants’ case studies. This will be followed by a two-day study trip to the surrounding rural areas to visit examples of good practice. The concluding three-days of the course will be devoted to the preparation and presentation of the study trip reports, forums open to debate and several sessions to draw the necessary conclusions, evaluate the course, reflect on the experience of the participants and promote networking among themselves.

Course support: Thematic Guide and Participants’ Handbook

Course materials will be provided before and during the Summer Academy in printed and electronic format. This includes a course manual on the theme of Social Capital, a Participants’ handbook (which includes practical information and detailing the methodology that will be used in the Summer Academy), as well as a list of tasks for participants to prepare before their arrival. Administrative and tutorial support will be offered by the host University. Expert lecturers and facilitators are recruited among the Association members.

The Location

The Municipality of Ilmajoki is located on the Western Finland, 15 km from the city of Seinajoki and some 360 km North-West from the capital, Helsinki. Ilmajoki covers large, beautiful areas in the region of South Ostrobothnia. Its landscape is dominated by “the sea of fields and barns” broken by the river Kyronjoki. The official history of the municipality starts on the 16th century as the parish of Ilmajoki was in the process of being established. Its renown history stems from: the War of Yeomen, at the end of the 15th century (its leader Jaakko Ilkka born in Ilmajoki), from the preserved, characteristic two-story wooden houses and finally from the skillfully-made handicrafts, such as the big grandfather’s clocks. Nowadays, the Music Festival of Ilmajoki is a well known event.
The location of the municipality along main roads and close to the Seinajoki airport support the development of the local economy, as is the case with the existence of many specialised farms and diversified micro- and medium-size enterprises. In Ilmajoki there are also a number of schools providing vocational education, including the School of Agriculture of the Seinajoki Polytechnic.

The Costs

There is no attendance fee, but a charge to cover accommodation, course materials, full board and travel on the site. Accommodation is provided in the comfortable students´ dormitories of the Polytechnic (one or two person room in a four room unit with a shared bathroom, toilet and kitchenette). The cost is 550 Euro for EU participants and 400 Euro for participants from pre-accession countries. The course charge includes the subscription fee for one year’s Euracademy Association membership. Existing members of the Euracademy Association are offered a discount of 50 Euro of the total cost and free extension of their membership for one year.




Euracademy Association

the Euracademy Association which was established in January 2004 in Athens as a European non-profit membership organisation, in order to promote capacity building in rural areas and take forward the successful activities of the Euracademy project. The Euracademy Association is looking forward to...

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