The Seminar

Overview

The aim of the Seminar, exclusively devoted to the young change-makers, is to facilitate discussions and exchange of ideas among young participants considered to be innovators, by providing a favourable environment and neutral guidance for thinking outside the box, finding common grounds, and exploring solutions beyond national boundaries. Challenging questions are posed to prompt bold answers and the quality of debate is ensured by emphasising mutual respect and self-reflection. Learning is believed to be about sharing experiences, active participation and social encounters.

The Seminar offers a series of plenary lectures, participatory workshops, brainstorming sessions, film screenings, and cultural activities, articulated around three main thematic streams:

  1. New Dynamics of the MEM region
  2. Governance, good practices, and policy making
  3. Cultural narratives

The aim of the Seminar, exclusively devoted to the young change-makers, is to facilitate discussions and exchange of ideas among young participants considered to be innovators, by providing a favourable environment and neutral guidance for thinking outside the box, finding common grounds, and exploring solutions beyond national boundaries. Challenging questions are posed to prompt bold answers and the quality of debate is ensured by emphasising mutual respect and self-reflection. Learning is believed to be about sharing experiences, active participation and social encounters.

The Seminar offers a series of plenary lectures, participatory workshops, brainstorming sessions, film screenings, and cultural activities. Participants are encouraged to reflect on and discuss topics from the following three streams – New Dynamics of the MEM region; Governance, Administration, and Policy Making; Cultural Narratives.

A fourth stream, called ‘Horizontal Stream’, engages young change-makers to work, with the support of a team of facilitators, on project-proposals with a cross-borders approach. In the past two years, the main areas of these project-proposals included: education, culture, political participation, the refugee crisis, job creation, social cohesion, mental health. For more information, see the Lugano Initiative documents (The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2019 and The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2018).

This year due to the Coronavirus pandemic and its consequences, the Summit cannot be held as planned. The circumstances have understandably imposed a review of the format of the MEM Summer Summit 2020. The Seminar did not take place and was replaced by a series of online and onsite events in the MEM region.

This stream aims to give an overview of the complex geopolitical situation and the challenges facing the Middle East Mediterranean region, focusing on topics of current relevance. The analysis ranges from the Levant ravaged by continuing conflicts and torn apart by protests, to North Africa, where the political systems of countries affected by the 2011 uprising have dissolved, and new ones have emerged.

This stream familiarises participants with diverse traditions of state administration, providing an overview of analytical patterns and practical dynamics. It also focuses on complex issues that affect the Middle East Mediterranean region in terms of administration and governance. It introduces participants to the Swiss political system and to the Swiss government’s foreign policy agenda, programmes and activities as a regional partner.

This stream explores the role of narratives in capturing various realities in the Middle East Mediterranean region as well as the emergence of new expressions in the figurative arts, cinema, and literature, and the concern for cultural heritage. Creativity and culture are powerful instruments to develop new narratives and achieve a better understanding of Middle East Mediterranean societies. They are also socio-economic driving forces.

A fourth stream, called ‘Horizontal Stream’, engages young change-makers to work, with the support of a team of facilitators, on project-proposals with a cross-borders approach. In the past two years, the main areas of these project-proposals included: education, culture, political participation, the refugee crisis, job creation, social cohesion, mental health. For more information, see the Lugano Initiative document. and (The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2019 and The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2018).

"A change-maker is someone who wills to accept untraditional and unorthodox ways to see problems and to adopt a holistic approach, also sacrificing the individual level."
Majd Nassaralah, Palestinian Territories
"We are the future because the youth make 60% of the MENA population and are a great potential for change."
Hatim El Otmani, Morocco
"A change-maker is being a good citizen and a good servant to your community."
Khadija El Alami, Morocco
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Seminar Programme

Full programme of the Seminar 2020 will be available soon. 

Course coordinated by Prof Gilles Kepel, Prof Hela Ouardi, and Dr Federica Frediani

Course coordinated by Prof Jean-Patrick Villeneuve in collaboration with the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)

Course coordinated by Prof Riccardo Bocco, Prof Silvia Naef, and Dr Federica Frediani

The Università della Svizzera Italiana endorses the MEM Summer Summit Code of Conduct, which is applicable to all individuals participating in the MEM Summer Summit.

MEM Summer Summit Code of Conduct 2019

Participants

The MEM Summer Summit welcomes young change-makers from the Middle East Mediterranean region and Europe with a proven interest in the region and engagement in the society.

Seminar Speakers

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MYRIAM AHMED

Associate Programme Officer (Mediation), swisspeace, Switzerland

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H.R.H. RYM ALI

Royal Film Commission Jordan, Jordan

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IYAD ALQAISI

Lawyer and co-founder of Justice Clinic, Jordan

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H.E. MASSIMO BAGGI

Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Switzerland

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FABRICE BALANCHE

Associate Professor, University of Lyon, France

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KENZA BENABDERRAZIK

Lecturer and Researcher, Sustainable Agroecosystems (SAE) group, ETH Zürich, Morocco

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ELEONORA BENECCHI

Lecturer and Researcher, Institute of Media and Journalism, Università della Svizzera italiana, Italy

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TERESA DRACE FRANCIS

Senior Programme Officer for Arts, Sigrid Rausing Trust, England

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SHIVAN FAZIL

Seminar Facilitator
Researcher, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Iraq

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FEDERICA FREDIANI

Ph.D. Senior Researcher, Educational Programme Manager, MEM Freethinking Platform, Università della Svizzera italiana, MEM Summer Summit Project leader, Switzerland

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BASSEL GHANDOUR

Film Director, Jordan

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MICHAEL GIBBERT

Professor, Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland

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BÉNÉDICTE GODERIAUX

Senior Programme Officer for Human Rights, Sigrid Rausing Trust, France

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CAROLE GEURTLER

Seminar Facilitator
Independent consultant in sustainable development, cultural and creative economies and media, Switzerland

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ABIR HAJ IBRAHIM

Co-Founder and Board Member, Modaberoon Network, Syria

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RAYAN KASSEM

West Asia Regional Director, Youth4Nature, Lebanon

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GILLES KEPEL

Professor, PLS Paris Sciences et Lettres-École normale supérieure, France; Adjunct Professor and Scientific director of the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland

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MARTINO LOVATO

Lecturer in Comparative Literature, Mount Holyoke College, Italy

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FYRAS MAWAZINI

Seminar Facilitator
Country Director for Morocco and Tunisia, Drosos Foundation, Switzerland

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IBRAHIM OLABI

Executive Director and Founder, Syrian Legal Development Programme, Syria

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DIANA SEGANTINI

Advisor for Arts, culture, heritage and media, Switzerland

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GABRIELE SEGRE

Director of the Vittorio Dan Segre Foundation, Switzerland

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JEAN-PATRICK VILLENEUVE

Professor and Director, Institute of Communication and Public Policy, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland

Pio Wennubst

PIO WENNUBST

Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations organisations in Rome, Switzerland

Application

The MEM Summer Summit welcomes applications from candidates:

  • aged between 25 and 35
  • from the Middle East Mediterranean region and Europe with a proven interest in the region and engagement in the society
  • with diverse educational backgrounds and work experience (business, media, human rights, non-govern- mental organisations, politics, technology, culture, art, entertainment, education, and research)
  • interested and willing to work on project-proposals with an across border approach with participants coming from all over the region
  • with a strong knowledge of English; knowledge of French is an asset

Application process

Applicants must submit a complete application on the online YCM platform.

In addition to completing the forms on the platform, applicants must upload the following documents:

  • an up-to-date curriculum vitae
  • a motivation letter of no more than one page describing current interests in the MEM region and the MEM Summer Summit
  • a short introduction video in English (up to two minutes long), in which the applicant introduces themselves, briefly state why they are the right candidate and how they can contribute to the Summit
  • the names and contacts of two referees

Closing date for application

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Grants

A limited number of partial or full grants, offered by sponsors, are available for participating in the MEM Summer Summit 2021.

The full grants cover participation and accommodation costs, and travel expenses; partial grants cover participation and accommodation costs.

Grant request must be submitted with the application on the online YCM Platform.

Practical information

Transport

By train: Lugano is one of the principal stops on the main European North-South route and can be reached from many cities in the northern and southern part of Europe by direct day or night train connections. Check trains and updated departure times from/to Lugano here

By plane: The quickest way to get to Lugano from most places abroad, will be through a number of airports listed below: 

  • From Milano Malpensa: The S50 is the train line that connects Lugano to Malpensa. Check trains and updated departure times here. Direct bus connections to Lugano are available on demand. To make a reservation contact Giosy Tours at +41 79 133 53 23. 
  • Zurich Airport: As an alternative you might consider flying to Zurich and use the train to travel to Lugano (overall, a 2h journey). There is a direct, hourly train from Zurich main station to Lugano. It is a chance to experience the longest train tunnel in Europe by passing under the Gotthard.

By car: The University is located in Via Giuseppe Buffi 13 and can be easily reached by car. The underground University parking lot is passed the second traffic light after the Glass building (The LAB) on your right. If you need to reach the University entrance instead, keep going straight passed the parking lot entrance and turn second right onto via Fusoni. Turn second right onto Via Lambertenghi and keep going straight until the end of the road until you see the University main building in front of you.


By bus from the train station: Go to the bus stop across the street from the train station and take the Nr. 6 bus towards Cornaredo and get off at “Università” (3 stops).


By bus from downtown Lugano: At the bus terminal, take the Nr. 5 bus towards “Viganello” and get off at “Università” (3 stops).

On foot (around 20-25 minutes): Reach the city centre by taking the pedestrian bridge across the street from the train station and follow the road downhill.  From Piazza Cioccaro head south to Piazza Dante. Walk across the square and turn left onto Via Pretorio. Cross Via Pretorio to get to the bus terminal. Walk pass the bus terminal and keep heading straight onto Corso Pestalozzi until you reach a big underground car park and the entrance of the Ciani Park. Turn left onto Via Lucchini and keep walking straight until you reach the University main building (Via Lucchini eventually becomes Via Lambertenghi).

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