European Union External Action

Alumni: the past, present and future of knowledge

24/10/2018 - 02:00
News stories

Imagine you have attended a training course in one of the recognised European training institutes. You leave the event with good intentions. But after a few months, at the latest after one year, you cannot find your colleagues from the training course, the material you received is outdated and the internet links provided by your trainers are not working anymore.

Elisa Norvanto Jochen Rehrl Vicente Diaz de Villegas

It is in a training institute's own interest to keep in contact with its former students, or 'alumni'. This is partly about self-interest (in general, students should come back for other training courses, or send friends, family or colleagues to similar events) – but it is also because if an institute does not keep its students updated, the money and time invested in them during the training course will have been wasted.

In many cases, training also serves another purpose: capacity and confidence building. These two elements have both an internal/national dimension and an external/international dimension. During 'European Week' at the National Defence University of Ukraine, former students were gathered and informed about the latest CSDP development. The alumni also used this event to make friends, build contacts and exchange views – not just their own, but also those of the institutions they were representing.

Two experts from network partners of the European Security and Defence College, Ms Elisa Norvanto (FINCENT) and Colonel Vicente Diaz de Villegas (Spanish MoD), gave a talk on strategic communication and the role of social media. The main focal points of the discussion were hybrid threats, challenges in the cyber domain and how to communicate with the population. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Jochen Rehrl, the editor of the Handbook on Cybersecurity.

This event helped to further establish the ESDC alumni society in Ukraine, which already has more than 150 members. It also helped to build bridges between the cohorts of the various years of the training and between the various locations where the courses have been held. The event was hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Defence and the Ukrainian National Defence University.