During May 3 rd to 5 th 2017, representatives from 15 countries were invited to the 2017 CEDIA (European Confederation of Agronomists Associations) and ICA (Association for European Life Sciences Universities) conference held at BOKU univertity in Vienna, Austria. With a total of over 50 attendees, this conference intended to present and discuss different perspectives surrounding the topic “Defining Agronomists Professional Profiles and Agricultural and Life Science Study Programmes.”
The conference was divided in three blocks held on 2 days. In the first mourning session, the conference attendees challenged today’s professional profiles on the basis of the "Agronomist Universal Charter 2015” and the expectations of the bio-economy and the society. This was followed by an evening session were the attendees took a critical view on study programmes of life science universities in Europe. Within this session the attendees asked if universities are creating graduates with the qualifications needed by society. The following day, session 3 brought the findings and insights gained in session 1 and 2 together, and was used to develop ideas and strategies for joint actions between universities, alumni organizations and professional organizations at national and European level. With a wide range of specific topics covered in the conference, the ultimate the goal of the conference was not to find final answers true for everyone, but rather to facilitate the discussion on the topics at hand and promote networking.
YPARD, represented by the Austrian country representative Nikolaus Hruschka, was able to contribute as a recent university graduated agronomist with international background and insight. With the aim of promoting YPARD and its goals, he contributed to session 2 by holding a short presentation where he presented what he considered to be the 3 most important aspects and tools a university graduate should master: 1) a strong instinct in validating information, 2) the ability to manage and communicate information, and 3) the importance of networking for university graduates (with organizations such as YPRAD). Many of the conference attendees were also very interested in his firsthand personal experiences and lessons learned as a recent university graduate.
The CEDIA and ICA conference proved to be an eye opener to all the attendees as the academic reality of each country represented was substantially different. None the less, all attendees were extremely pleased to be able to interchange experiences and strategies as well as to present their national situations and learn from the experiences of others.
The conference was a great success. We thank the ICA and CEDIA organizations for their excellent organization and BOKU for hosting the conference and look forward to meeting again in a years’ time.