We are all Citizens

Euracademy Association invites you to take part in the

14th Summer Academy


“Rural NGOs: Catalysts of Social Cohesion and Sustainable Development”

to be held at Kalamata, Greece, and the surrounding area, from 5th to 13th September 2015


Social cohesion is undoubtedly a prerequisite for sustainable rural development, ensuring community connectedness, social harmony and the mobilisation of all local actors to achieve a common end. Social cohesion in small rural communities is sometimes challenged by the need to integrate “outside” minorities, such as immigrants and refugees. Numerous studies have shown the significant role and positive contribution immigrant populations can make to the economic development of rural areas throughout Europe, especially in sectors such as agriculture and construction. However, the recent financial crisis throughout Europe, combined with the appearance of nationalistic movements, has led to increased xenophobia and racism aimed at these minorities, undermining significantly their positive contribution to rural economies and societies.

The civil society can play a vital role for the inclusion of minorities in rural areas and for enhancing the economic and social benefits derived by their integration in the indigenous communities. Euracademy is currently researching rural NGOs in Greece and best practice Europe-wide, with a view to identifying the capacity building needs of rural NGOs so that they can become catalysts of sustainable development of their communities, helping in particular to strengthen social cohesion in their areas of operation. The results of the research will guide the lectures, workshops, discussions and study trips of the summer academy.

The 14th Summer Academy of the Euracademy Association aims to explore the contribution of the civil society in rural areas to the issues mentioned above, with a focus on the integration of minority groups, such as immigrants and refugees; to address the capacity building needs of rural NGOs, especially those which have a role in enhancing social cohesion in their areas, so that they become more effective in accomplishing their mission; to demonstrate ways of action through best practice examples collected from across Europe; and to encourage the networking of rural NGOs, so that the benefits of exchange of experience and peer-learning are maximised for them.

The 14th Summer Academy will take place in the context of the We are all Citizens programme, which is implemented by the Bodosakis Foundation in cooperation with the EEA Grants Office[CM1] .

Discussion topics

Questions that will be addressed by this year’s Summer Academy include the following non-exhaustive list:

· How can NGOs operating in rural areas enhance social cohesion, referring in particular to the integration of immigrant and refugee groups?

· What can we learn from examples of best practice across Europe?

· Want are the skills needed by managers and staff of rural NGOs to accomplish their mission of enhancing social cohesion in their areas?

· What are the “tools” that can be used to facilitate minority integration in the economic and social life of rural communities in a balanced and a fair way?

· Who else can support the integration process? What is the role of local authorities, Local Development Agencies and local enterprises?

· How can networking amongst NGOs help to build their capacities and improve their operation?

· What are the links between social cohesion, integration of minorities and sustainable rural development?

· How can we measure the benefits of integration for both sides – the indigenous communities and the minority groups?

The Target Group

The 14th Summer Academy welcomes participants from all over Europe who are working in the field of rural development. In particular, for this year’s summer academy, we are targeting managers and staff of NGOs active in rural areas, with a mission that includes the integration of minorities and/or sustainable rural development; managers and animators of rural development based in Local Development Agencies; local and regional authorities or similar organisations; welfare services operating in rural communities; rural businesses; policy and decision makers; researchers, academics, training providers, students and experts in related fields. The course is designed for around 40 participants, who will be invited to share their experiences, to acquire new knowledge and skills and to benefit from the wide networking opportunities offered by Euracademy. Participants should have a reasonable command of English.

The Format

The summer academy includes lectures, discussion groups in the form of workgroups of up to 8 participants following each lecture; study tours focusing on specific local development “issues” related to the subject of social cohesion, integration of minorities and sustainable rural development, which the participants provide proposals for; presentation of the results of the study trips by the participants; panel discussions and workshops. Collective work is strongly promoted during the summer academy on the principle that all the participants learn from one another, sharing knowledge and experiences on an equal basis.

The Programme

This summer academy will benefit from the experience of 13 previous Summer Academies held in an equal number of different locations around Europe, on different themes relating to sustainable rural development. Following the arrival of participants on 5th September, an international dinner is held in the evening to warm up the group and give opportunities for participants to meet and discuss in a relaxed environment. The first three days are devoted to lectures and discussion workshops. The following two days will be spent on the Thematic Study Tours. Each tour will focus on a specific area and will include practical examples on the chosen study theme. A Study Tour report will be prepared by participants, which will describe their experiences and make proposals for implementing activities and strategies in the area to enhance social cohesion, minority integration and sustainable rural development. These reports will be presented and discussed in a plenary session on the day following the study tours. The final day will be devoted to lectures, panel discussions, debating and drawing conclusions, evaluating the Summer Academy and networking. The departure day is 13th September 2015.


The 14th Summer Academy will take place mainly at Agroktima Marini, a beautiful rural retreat complete with its very own amphitheatre and surrounded by olive trees, the Messinian mountains and the Aegean Sea: the perfect location to discuss sustainable rural development! Participants will sleep and have breakfast at the nearby Messinian Bay Hotel (http://www.messinianbay.gr/) and be transported to Agroktima Marini by bus. The closest city to the venue and hotel is Kalamata, a small town nestled at the top of the Messinian Bay, which has a long and interesting history. Kalamata has several museums, a castle, city parks, a network of cycle routes and many excellent tavernas along the seafront offering traditional local cuisine. For more information, take a look at the following link: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/main_cities/kalamata. The surrounding area of Messinia also offers a huge variety of historical, cultural, physical and gastronomic experiences. Highlights include the ancient town of Messini, the impressive Taygetus mountain range looming over the adjacent rugged coastline, and the Diros caves, without doubt one of the most spectacular cave and underground lake systems in the world.

Course Support

Course materials will be provided during and after the Summer Academy in printed and electronic format. They include a Participants’ handbook, which contains practical information and the methodology that will be used in the Summer Academy, as well as tasks for participants to prepare before arriving to the Summer Academy. Administrative and tutorial support will be offered by Euracademy Association. Lecturers and facilitators are recruited among Euracademy members and other experienced professionals in the sustainable rural development, minority integration and social cohesion fields. A “Rural NGO capacity building handbook”, which will draw on the discussions and conclusions of the summer academy, the research carried our prior to the summer academy by Euracademy and expert support, will be prepared and distributed to the participants after the completion of the summer academy.

Participation Cost

The cost of attending the Summer Academy is kept to a minimum. There is no attendance fee, but only a charge to cover accommodation, full board and travel for the study tours. The cost is 500 Euro per participant based on single room occupation, and 400 Euro based on sharing a double room. A small number of scholarships (200 Euro each) are available covering part of the participation cost. The subscription fee for one year’s Euracademy Association membership should be added to the above, for those who are not Euracademy members.

Further information


Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Other Activities

  • Awareness raising seminars

Euracademy is in the process of introducing a new type of activity in the form of short residential seminars to raise awareness among European citizens of rural areas on a variety of themes and issues that reflect on cooperation, development, participation in the civil society, responding to policies that affect rural Europe etc. these short seminars will be probably held over weekends. Priority will be given for the first year of their implementation to the new member states. 
The seminar-type activity has been chosen because such a ‘model’ has proved (through Summer Academies) very effective in mobilising rural stakeholders, both individual and NGOs or public. Summer Academies, though, with a duration of 9-10 days, are often too long for professionals and entrepreneurs or NGO staff to attend, and therefore a shorter form of 3-days’ duration will be tried out, to give the opportunity to a wider range of citizens to be involved. These will have mostly a national focus and will be carried out in several member states. The courses will nevertheless offer the European framework, best practice and include lectures by experts from other member states. The planning process is still in its early stages.

  • European cooperative Masters programme on Rural Animation

Euracademy Association is also planning the development of a Masters programme aiming to establish the profession of rural Animator, which is pivotal for rural development and the effective involvement of individuals and organisations of rural areas in the sustainable development process. A number of the Association’s corporate members which are tertiary educational institutions have expressed interest and the issue will be investigated further. The course will have a strong European dimension.

  • Networking the rural-targeting networks

Euracademy Association is considering at present the uptake of an initiative to bring together several European and national networks that have an interest in sustainable rural development, the development of the civil society in rural areas and the capacity building of citizens in rural communities. The ‘networking of networks’ is expected to bring added value to the work of the Association and the other networks and create a forum with wide-ranging mobilisation potential for the benefit of citizens in rural areas.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email


Taking part in trans-national projects is an integral part of Euracademy’s activity that builds its capacity as an organisation, its expertise, its exposure across Europe, and its membership. Past and present projects in which the Association has been involved are listed below:
  • ENVOLWE – Nature Based Entrepreneurs and Vocational Education Training Providers Learning and Working Together. Increasing and diversifying cooperation between enterprises and vocational training is continuously enhanced in various EU and national policies in order to enhance the competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economical growth in Europe (e.g. Lisbon Strategy, Education & Training 2010 Work Programme). Envolwe was a two-year transnational project financed in part by the European Commission in the context of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The overall objective of the project was to increase the quality and attractiveness of VET by strengthening the cooperation between VET and micro enterprises and providing practical tools for it. You may also download a copy of ENVOLWE brochure and one of the core publications of the project, the Handbook on VET and small business cooperation.
  • EMRA – European Masters Programme for Rural Animators. A project funded under the EC Lifelong Learning Programme, ERASMUS, Multilateral, Curriculum Development Projects. The project is led by the Euracademy member, Nicolaus Coppernicus University and will be coordinated by Euracademy Association and supported by a partnership of 7 European Universities. The aim of the project is to create a new interdisciplinary European Masters programme, intending to make a direct contribution to sustainable rural development by explicitly establishing the profession of rural animator and by offering the necessary education and competence building as well as the appropriate qualification to consolidate this profession. The end product will be a complete programme of studies at Masters level (EMRA- European Masters Programme for Rural Animators ), which will be managed jointly by the consortium of the project, and will target graduates in humanities/social sciences as well as agronomy, land use planning, geography etc., both mid-career professionals holding a B.A or B.Sc and graduates who just completed their first degree. Further information is available at http://www.rural-animator.umk.pl/.
  • E-ruralnet – Network promoting e-learning for rural development. A project funded under the Lifelong Leaning Programme, Centralised Project & Networks (ICT). The project was led by Euracademy Association and supported by a partnership of 12 organisations related to lifelong learning. The project addressed the issue of enhancing lifelong learning opportunities in rural areas using ICT. Previous research of Euracademy Observatory identified important constraints not allowing the rural workforce to take advantage of ICT enabled learning, mostly related to infrastructure and low personal motivation, and marked differences between countries, signifying that national policy contexts and the e-learning market dictate access to e- learning. Building on the Observatory experience, the issues of “needs” and “constraints” related to e-learning were further investigated from the viewpoint of innovation and creativity and linked to rural development. Networking was employed as the central method for achieving the aims of the project. Project activities and outputs supported networking in the 11 participating countries, addressing the key stakeholders of e-learning (providers, social partners, policy makers). The project was completed in 2011. Further information is available at www.e-ruralnet.eu.
  • ECO-DESTINET – A Network Developing a European Quality Label for Eco-tourism Destinations. A project funded under the Lifelong Leaning Programme, Leonardo Strand, Italy. This project was led by the Italian National ~Research Council, Institute of Bio-Meteorology, in Florence, and was supported by a partnership of eight organisations, including Euracademy Association. The aim of the project was to produce and apply in practice training materials, curricula, methodologies and back up support for trainers of ecotourism service providers across Europe, to facilitate the harmonisation of existing quality labels and to enable the efficient implementation of a European Ecotourism Labelling Standard (EETLS). For this purpose, a blueprint of the EETLS was prepared by the project team. The experience of the project partnership was shared and exchanged with a wide network of national and European organisations specialising in tourism-related quality labelling, sustainable rural development and tourism-related training. The project was completed in November 2009. Information is available at www.ecoroute.eu.
  • CULT-RURAL: Promotion of a Cultural Area Common to European Rural Communities. A three-year project funded by the European Commission, CULTURE 2000 Programme, Directorate General Education and Culture. The project was coordinated by the Swedish Local Heritage Federation, in partnership with Euracademy Association and other organisations from seven European countries. The project aimed to show in a practical and illustrative way the connection between cultural heritage and sustainable rural development, as well as promoting cooperation and networking between ethnographic/rural heritage museums and other public or private organisations related to rural development, encouraging them to ‘open their doors’ to transnational cooperation and intercultural dialogue. The project also aimed to improve the skills of professionals in the fields of rural heritage and rural development and attract the younger generation to enjoy the lessons learnt from heritage. To achieve its aims, the project supported the 6th summer academy of Euracademy Association on the theme of “Culture and Sustainable Rural Development” that took place in Chania, Crete, Greece in August 2007; and then organised 9 transnational exhibitions in 8 European countries, based on three themes that linked cultural heritage and sustainable development: the landscape as heritage, the technology of rural economy as part of heritage; and symbolism as part of everyday reality, building the identity of rural communities. The first exhibition opened in Poland in May 2008 and can be viewed, together with other reports and activities of the project in www.cultrural.net . The project was completed in October 2009.
  • The Impact of LifeLong Learning policies on the inclusion of vulnerable groups (LLL-Inclusion). This research project, led by the Euracademy Association, aimed to investigate the impact of lifelong learning (LLL) policies on the prospects of inclusion of vulnerable groups, and in particular immigrants, ethnic minorities and marginalized rural populations. More specifically the project looked at a) the policies and strategies included in the NAPs/incl which address lifelong learning for the above target groups; b) other policies that refer directly to the target groups in the NAPs/incl, such as employment, social insurance, culture etc c) the policies adopted by national authorities to implement and support further the NAPs; d) the mechanisms for the implementation of these policies. The two types of policies, i.e LLL policies and other inclusion policies were then cross-referenced to identify policy synergies and complementarities. The project also sought the opinion and experience of the organizations that implement the above policies, and the reaction of organizations that represent the target groups, in order to assess the strong and weak points of the adopted policies “on the ground”, i.e. at the implementation stage, including the results and impact on the target groups. The project ended in 2007.
  • Euracademy Observatory: A European Observatory of the use of ICT-supported Life Long Learning by SMEs, Micro-Enterprises and the Self-employed in Rural Areas. A two-year project funded by the European Commission, Reference Material strand of the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme. It was led by the University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute and supported by Euracademy Association and seven other partners, all corporate members of the Association. The project aimed to build systematic documentation on the use of ICT supported learning, including blended learning, by employees of SMEs and micro-enterprises in rural Europe, leading to formal qualifications or to non-validated skill acquisition or to personal development. Such documentation was collected through surveys in the 8 participating countries. The surveys addressed training providers and training recipients in rural areas, as well as other rural SMEs who had not used supported training. The information collected through online questionnaires and interviews in 8 countries was used to create a databank of comparative data. Complementary information was also presented regarding best practice and the policy framework in the participating countries and the European Union more generally. Euracademy Association signed agreements with the other project partners to continue updating the Observatory data regularly, through repeated surveys. The results of the Observatory are published electronically and accessible at www.euracademy-observatory.org and are aimed at training organisations, social partners, policy makers, NGOs and individuals with an interest and a role in ICT-supported learning in rural areas. The Observatory funding period ended in 2007, but the research material is still available online.
  • Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism – Capacity Building for Rural Development Leaders (TACIS IBPP Support to Civil Society and Local Initiatives). This project aimed to assist local or regional organisations of the public and voluntary sectors in rural areas of Ukraine to enhance their capacity as leaders of rural development by acquiring the necessary skills and competences to plan, manage and animate the development of sustainable rural tourism more efficiently. The project addressed in particular middle level managers and animators of rural development, working in local/regional authorities, local development agencies, NGOs, Farmers’ or SMEs Associations and any other organisation of the civil society that play a role in rural social and economic development. The main activities included: the organisation of a 10-day Summer School in Ukraine in May 2006 on the theme of “Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism”; the production of a manual for the above course including examples from around Europe; the establishment of a website to disseminate the project results and run an Internet-based distance learning package on the above theme; the provision of technical assistance to the participants of the Summer School to support local pilot actions on sustainable rural tourism in their regions; and the organisation of an international conference to expand the network of rural leaders and disseminate the project results. Euracademy Association was the Project Leader. The project ended in 2007.
  • EURO-VALIDATION (Pan-European System of Lifelong Learning Validation for Sustainable Rural Development). A three-year project approved by the European Commission, Leonardo da Vinci programme, Networks strand. The partnership comprised a transnational network of educational and training organisations, including all the Euracademy project partners, the Euracademy Association and new partners in order to expand the pan-European dimension of the project. Its overall aim was to promote, through a wide network of relevant organisations all over Europe, policies and practices of validation and certification of lifelong learning, with special reference to the skills and competences necessary to enhance sustainable rural development. The project addressed two types of needs. Firstly, the need to ensure equality of access to qualifications by all people. Secondly, the need to recognise the importance of lifelong learning in a rural context, including all forms of learning that contribute to capacity building for sustainable development. EURO-VALIDATION targeted all the “stakeholders” involved in lifelong learning, either as providers, certification agents or recipients, with special reference to the needs and requirements of the rural economy and society. It was based on the successful Euracademy project which created innovative material and delivery methods for non-formal learning. The project ended in 2007.
  • TRANS-RURAL (Transfer of Euracademy Learning Packages to Formal Training Systems in Rural Europe). A one-year project approved by the European Commission, Leonardo da Vinci Programme, Transfer of innovation strand. This project aimed to transfer the two innovative learning packages of the Euracademy project (“Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism” and “Information Society and Sustainable Rural Development”) to different local contexts across Europe. Its principal objectives included: firstly, to localise the training products (i.e. translation and adaptation to cultural settings and different target groups’ needs); and secondly, to assess the transferability of the training products to the training and national accreditation systems, based on blended learning techniques. These tasks were undertaken by training organisations in Norway and the UK and were piloted with different target groups in Norway, UK and Romania. The target groups included managers and animators of rural development, working in local/regional authorities, local development agencies, NGOs or social partners; elected members and SMEs in rural areas. The project ended in 2005.
Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email



  • EMRA “Animation of Rural Development – A new Profession?” Interantional Conference, held in Chania, Greece, 7-9 June 2012.
  • e-RURALNET “ICT for Inclusive Learning: The Way to Forward” International Conference, held in Florence, Italy, 10-11 November 2011.
  • CULT-RURAL “The Missing Link: Rural Heritage and Sustainable Rural Development” International Conference, held in Athens, Greece, 21-22 September 2009.
  • EUROVALIDATION International Conference, held in Athens, on 4th December 2007.
  • TACIS “Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism – Capacity Building for Rural Development Leaders” International Conference, held in Kyiv, Ukraine on 11-13 September 2007.
  • Lifelong Learning – The Role of ICT in Meeting the Needs of Small Enterprises -EURACADEMY OBSERVATORY International Conference, held in Brussels, Belgium, on 7th September 2007.
  • The impact of Lifelong Learning on the inclusion of vulnerable groups, with a focus in rural areas. International Seminar, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, 20th November 2006.
  • OBSERVATORY International Workshop, held in Athens, Greece, 20-21 October 2006.
  • EURO-VALIDATION International Conference – Validation, Certification and Accreditation of Informal Learning, held in Gyor, Hungary, 3-4 July 2006.
  • TRANS-RURAL International Conference – Flexible Learning for Rural Businesses, held in Athens, Greece, 6 September 2005.


Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Distance Learning

The Thematic Guides used in the three first Summer Academies were adapted to distance learning format and uploaded in a specially constructed platform. Distance Learning Courses were run in English and other languages, as follows:

  • The 1st distance learning course on “Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism” was run in English for 10 weeks between April and July 2003 and attracted over 60 participants from 15 European countries, supported by a team of 10 tutors. The course has been run also in Polish and Spanish.
  • The 2nd distance learning course on “Information Society and Sustainable Rural Development” was run in English for 8 weeks between September and November 2003, attracted over 55 participants from 17 European countries and was supported by a team of 8 tutors, 4 of which were participants to the 2nd Summer Academy. The course was also run in Polish.
  • The 3rd distance learning course on “Diversification of Rural Economies and Sustainable Rural Development in the Enlarged Europe” was run in English in the first quarter of 2005 and attracted over 30 participants from 7 European countries, supported by a team of tutors and facilitators from N. Copernicus University. The course is also planned to run in Polish.
  • A revised and enriched version of the 1st distance learning course on “Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism” run in English and Ukrainian during 2007, with much additional material in the form of lectures, exercises and tasks for the students, leading also to certification. This course is available to Euracademy members, and can be re-run either as a self-administered course or tutor-assisted, if there is interest by at least 15 candidates
  • The 4th distance learning course on “Ecotourism Labelling and the European Ecotourism Labelling Standards” that runs in English from August 2009. The course is expected to attract at least 30 participants from 10 European countries and will be tutored and supported by facilitators.
  • The 5th distance learning course on “Traditional Skills” will run from August 2009 in English with material also translated in other EU languages. The course will showcase traditional skills from Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Italy, France and Sweden and is expected to attract several participants from across Europe. The course will be self-tutored with support by facilitators.

Further to the above, two blended learning courses run in 2005 on “Developing Sustainable Rural Tourism” and “Information Society and Sustainable Rural Development” addressing mostly small enterprises in rural areas in Norway, UK and Romania. These courses combined e-learning with face-to-face seminars and tutorials.
Future runs of the courses are planned for groups of Association members; if you are interested please contact us and you will be notified in due course.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email