16 March 2017

Recap of the symposium Strengths & Power of Youth

How to maximise the power of youth

How can we work together to maximise young people's potential? That is what the Strengths & Power of Youth symposium was all about. Organiser Catrin Finkenauer: 'I hope this event has planted a seed. Our aim is to explore new research opportunities and stimulate exchange between researchers, educators, professionals, young people, and policy makers.'

'Young people have so much to offer! We need to work together to maximise their opportunities.'

The speakers at the symposium represented various scientific disciplines, such as Law, Psychology, Public Health,Child and Family Studies, and Geosciences, but also educational organisation PCOU Willibrord and peace movement MasterPeace were present. Everyone shares a similar vision, Catrin Finkenauer observed: 'We all agree on one thing: young people have so much to offer! We need to work together to maximise their opportunities.'

It all started when Finkenauer attended a visit of Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi to the Amadeus Lyceum in Leidsche Rijn: 'The students were curious, respectful and asked excellent questions. I saw their potential, and thought to myself: we need to concentrate more on young peoples’ strengths and talents, instead of focusing mainly on problems and risk behaviour. That's what triggered the idea for the symposium.'

The programme of the day was carefully put together. It started with talks about the virtues and talents of individual youths, then broadened the scope to youth needs and rights, and the question of how to ensure youth strengths across countries. The day closed with talks that illustrated how the strengths of youth can be furthered in real life.

'It would be great if we could start a dialogue with young people: what do they actually need from us?'
Prof. dr. Catrin Finkenauer.
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The symposium was a success, an enthusiastic Catrin Finkenauer concludes: 'I couldn't be happier. The presentations were of a very high quality, and there was a great dynamic between the speakers. This was a great start to get a sense of what is out there, and hopefully a stepping stone to a follow-up symposium with even more varied speakers.' 

The event aimed to inspire researchers from a wide range of disciplines to join forces, but Finkenauer also hopes to encourage collaboration with the outside world: 'It would be great if we could involve more societal partners in the future, and start a dialogue with young people themselves: what do they actually need from us?'

Strengths and Power of Youth symposium
The symposium in full swing. Booth Hall, University Library.