Danube Winter School 2016 was held in Andrevlje and in Novi Sad in the period from 16th until 21st March 2016. During 6 days, 25 young people from 12 countries in the Danube region participated in the interdisciplinary school that included current topics related to this Region. In addition, participants had the opportunity to learn about cultural and historical monuments and attractions of Novi Sad, enjoy the beauty of Fruska Gora and meat young researchers from other countries in the Danube region.
During the Danube Winter School were held 18 lectures, organized visit to Novi Sad and Petrovaradin fortress with the catacombs. Participants had the opportunity to visit the University campus, while some lectures were held at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad and the Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad. In addition, participants also visited the Laboratory for the monitoring of landfills, waste water and air pollution in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Occupational Safety Engineering Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad.
Participants of the school were young researchers, students, master and doctoral students, and postdoctoral students from different Universities of the Danube region. In addition to national diversity, the different educational and professional orientation of the participants contributed to the quality of School, which improved the discussions after the lectures and opened many questions for further research. The lectures covered various topics – from underwater archeology, socio-economic issues that connect countries of the Danube region, energy efficiency, mobility of students, as well as problems of brain drain in the region. There were presentations of the Petnica Science Center and the European Danube Academy Ulm, which was a major partner in the implementation of the Project. Eminent speakers represented themes that are current and interesting. Furthermore, through the group work, with the support of a mentor, the participants were developing their project ideas on different topics of importance for the Danube region.
When designing the school program, organizing committee of the Danube Area Research Center aimed to include as many interesting and current topics, but also was working on networking the participants to open opportunities for partnership in the field of scientific research and youth projects. In designing the program of the school significant help and support was received from the Center for Historical Research, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad. Indirect targets of Danube winter school were certainly the promotion of Novi Sad, Fruska gora and their touristic potentials, cultural and historical heritage of this area, as well as the affirmation of European and regional values.
The motivation of the participants, as determined by detailed analysis of application forms, coincided with the goals that the organizing committee set itself in the organization of the School. As an important motivational factors for participation were interaction with young people of similar profile in the region, which are seen as an opportunity for exchanging opinions and finding new and better ways to solve problems in local communities. Also, the school has been a great opportunity to enhance the cooperation between youth and other non-governmental organizations in the Danube region. Some of the participants were already familiar with certain strategic documents such as the Danube strategy, and they wanted to learn more about the possibilities for the involvement of youth in its programs through various workshops, training, civil society organizations and youth exchange. The analysis of evaluation forms has found that the participants’ expectations are fulfilled. They were extremely satisfied with the quality of lectures, timeliness of selected topics, their applicability and possibilities for further debate and discussion. In addition, participants were satisfied with the work of the members of the organizing team and hospitality of the congress center Ceptor in Andrevlje on Fruska Gora. In their evaluation forms, participants stressed satisfaction with the achieved networking and opportunities for further cooperation. Particularly pleasant experience for them was intercultural evening, where through informal presentation and tasting of local specialties, traditional customs and costumes had the opportunity to get to know the characteristics of the countries of the Danube Region. Organized visit to Novi Sad and the Petrovaradin Fortress, have been an excellent choice during the time scheduled for the sightseeing and relaxation.