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Breaking the Cycle: Rethinking Poverty in the Developed World

Project Overview

A student-led conference addressing poverty in Europe.

Identifying the Problem

Massive welfare cuts throughout Europe brought the issue of poverty to the forefront of political debate. The austerity measures pushed many Europeans into poverty and worsened the situation for those already living below the poverty line. Eva believed that European university students should be actively engaged in the discussion about poverty in Europe, and should be collaborating with experts in the field by contributing their own ideas and solutions.

Creating A Solution

Eva elected to serve as one of two Conference Chairs to head the organization of "Breaking the Cycle: Rethinking Poverty in the Developed World,” the fifth European Public Policy Conference (EPPC). The EPPC is an annual conference led by European university students that fosters interest and awareness among students looking for solutions to major European issues. Along with 22 other university students from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Eva organized every aspect of the two and a half day conference. 

The conference was held at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, and was organized around three major themes: reconfiguring poverty, challenging existing policies and breaking the cycle. Eva and her team made every effort to secure speakers from different fields and discipline, who could bring their own perspectives to the issue of poverty in Europe. Among the speakers were Professor Stefan Selke, a German sociology professor who criticizes the German "Tafel" (similar to food banks) movement, and Gilda Farrell, head of the Social Cohesion Research & Early Warning Division at the Council of Europe.

University students interested in participating in the conference were requested to submit a short essay on poverty in Europe. Eva and her team received a massive response from interested students, and they selected about 80 students, from universities all across Europe, to attend the conference. The conference included panel discussions, lectures and small group discussions. The feedback from the participants was very positive, and the students especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about the issue of poverty in Europe from several different perspectives. Eva is optimistic that those who attended were energized to develop new ideas and plans for addressing poverty in their respective countries.

Lessons Learned

For Eva, the most difficult aspect of this project was organizing a Paris event from Berlin. With the help of the Bertelsmann Foundation, the International Policy and Leadership Institute and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Eva and her team secured a conference venue and several speakers. However, it was not always easy to manage the basic logistics of the conference without being in Paris. Eva wishes she had been in Paris for the week leading up to the conference, which would have allowed her a more hands-on approach to project management.


Eva and her team raised $10,000 for this project, which included the costs of the venue, food and refreshments for the conference participants, and flights and accommodation for the speakers.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Germany Germany 2011

Developed by:

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