The European Student Think Tank is an international think tank made up of European students from different disciplinary backgrounds. The EST comes up with policy visions for the European Union. The EST is a Pan-European organisation.
What are the EST’s main goals?
As a think tank, the primary aim of the EST is to formulate high quality advise on EU policy from the point of view of its student population. The contemporary political climate or particular national interests should not compromise this advice. The EST aims to have an impact on European public opinion and policy making.
Secondly, the EST aims to stimulate the public debate among students. By facilitating cross-culture debates, the EST helps students to get familiar with other cultures, perceptions and ideas that are form the continent of Europe. In this way the EST provides a valuable addition to any academic career and prepares students for a professional career.
Thirdly, by offering a possibility to engage with European decision making, EST aims on contributing to overcome or at least decrease the democratic deficit the EU is said to have. We intend to bridge the gab between Brussels and the European citizen, by creating opportunities to learn about European policy and lowering the threshold to actively engage with it.
What does the EST do?
The EST activities can be categorized into three different stages: collecting input, creating output, and dissemination.
1. Collecting input
The EST aims to collect a broad range of ideas and opinions. The whole student population of Europe, including that of EU candidate states, is invited to contribute to our platform of ideas on the EU. The input can be about any topic concerning the EU and is in no way limited to those issues that directly affect students. Any student is welcome to write a blog or an in-depth article, organize a debate, or contribute in any other form. Results from the input activities are collected and presented on the website to stimulate further discussion. We may use the content of articles for more events open to a wide public. The ideas we collect by inviting all students to contribute form the basis for intensified analysis of the most urgent policy issues. Through this phase, we hear what is actually important to EU students. We can further built the EST activities on that information. The follow-up on the broad discussion on the EST website will take place during the policy generation events and are part of the output activities.
2. Creating output
This stage entails all activities that aim at in-depth analysis of the problems at stake. As mentioned above, the opinions and visions collected during the input activities serve as a starting point for output activities. During intensive meetings European students transform a broad range of visions into one policy strategy. In other words, during the output activities students generate policy advice. This can be presented in any form. The activities aimed at creating output are open to a select group of students. These students meet for a period of time while they discuss, elaborate, and eventually come up with an extensive proposal on policy strategy policy makers and politicians should follow. We will select students for this phase on the basis of general motivation, academic achievement in the broadest sense (e.g. one great publication may weigh higher than overall GPA), ability to think outside the box, and knowledge on the EU. The groups are formed on the basis of diversity in disciplinary background, a balance between Bachelor and Master students, and a representation of several theoretical and political views.
One of the EST’s main goals is to stimulate the debate about European politics and European policy making. The EST can contribute to this debate by spreading its visions and in-depth analysis of issues that are created during the output stage. These well-researched ideas are the EST’s key instrument in the dissemination process. Since the EST aims to stimulate the public debate about European politics among students, the dissemination activities all have to raise awareness for visions of the EU among the general public. During the dissemination stage the organisation therefore addresses the general public, rather than solely bureaucrats or politicians. In particular, the EST tries to influence the public opinion by promoting the EST visions to key players in the debate, i.e. journalists and academics. As politicians and policy-makers are influenced by the public opinion we hope to reach a knock-on effect.
The EST products can take any form, but should aim to advise which policy direction the EU needs to follow in order to achieve a particular outcome. The EST indicates what policy-makers and politicians should aim for. So, the EST not only identifies eventual goals of the EU, but at the same time gives a general overview of the strategy the EU could follow in order to achieve that goal. EST policy proposals have a broad, idealistic, and long-term character.
Who make up the EST?
Ambitious, creative, and bright students from the EU are connected through the EST. Their energy will be combined to create ideas that will direct the EU to a better future they foresee. These students can have a broad range of backgrounds and cooperation between Master and Bachelor students from both multi-disciplinary as specialized studies is strongly encouraged. The EST demands that all students involved have sufficient academic skills, a very good command of the English language, and a demonstrable interest in EU affairs. This EU-wide student cooperation is the basis for all primary activities. The EST student community is actively involved in accomplishing the main EST objectives. The international cooperation between students is of great value for the development of smart, creative, and balanced policy recommendations. However, due to logistic factors the offices of the organisation might be based in just a couple of countries.
The EST distinguishes itself by setting ambitious goals and cherishing the high standards required to be a credible think tank. While being accessible and widespread, this should never interfere with high-level academic research and quality output. As a consequence, the selection of contributors is strict. Maintaining a network of students throughout Europe is an essential part of the EST for it creates a proper transnational community that represents the diversity of the EU member states best. However, the EST focuses on quality output, rather than being the largest European (student) community on EU policy.