Our project’s second summer school, hosted by the University of Hohenheim, recently concluded on a high note. This event, which took place from September 11th to 15th, brought together a diverse group of participants. Comprising PhD and postgraduate students from esteemed universities across Europe, the summer school provided an invaluable opportunity for these future advisors to delve deep into key concepts and processes that underpin effective advisory work, with a focus on driving innovation.

One of the central themes explored during the summer school was the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS). This vital framework connects various actors in agriculture, fostering collaboration, and knowledge exchange. The students were immersed in understanding how AKIS can be leveraged to advance agricultural innovation, facilitating a dynamic exchange of ideas and practices.

In addition to AKIS, the participants also delved into the art of fostering innovative networks. They learned how building and nurturing these networks can catalyze transformative change in agriculture. It was a lesson in the power of connection and collaboration, emphasizing the pivotal role played by advisors in driving innovation and sustainable practices.

But this summer school was more than just classroom lectures; it was a hands-on experience. Participants had the privilege of visiting two farms, offering them a real-world glimpse into the challenges and opportunities faced by farmers. These visits were not just about observation; they involved active engagement and analysis.

During the farm visits, the students had the opportunity to scrutinize the work of two Operational Groups. These groups were working diligently on projects that aligned with the ideals of innovation and sustainability. One group was focused on reducing the energy footprint in local wine production, a challenge with significant environmental implications. The other group was dedicated to preserving and nurturing nature on farms, recognizing the importance of biodiversity and ecological balance in agriculture.

The summer school provided these aspiring advisors with a comprehensive and immersive experience that blended theoretical knowledge with practical insight. It was a unique opportunity to not only grasp the complexities of advisory work but also witness firsthand the impact it can have on agriculture and rural communities.

As the second summer school of the i2connect project drew to a close, the participants left with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of their future roles as agricultural advisors. They are now equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to drive innovation, support sustainability, and create positive change in European agriculture.

Our project remains committed to nurturing the next generation of agricultural advisors, empowering them to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of agriculture in Europe. This summer school was just one step in that journey, but it was a significant and transformative one. To get a visual glimpse of the experience, see for yourself in our video and pictures below! Photo credits: Thomas Alföldi, FiBL