The Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture organized a conference on Creative Transformations in Helsinki on 9 and 10 July 2019. The debates focused on how new connections between education, culture and democracy can contribute to the future of the European Union.

Finnish Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko discussed the positive effects of a flourishing cultural sector on democracy and EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics argued that an increased attention to European heritage and cultural expression is crucial for the building of European identity. Minister of Culture of the Republic of Croatia Nina Obuljen Koržinek highlighted the importance of multilateralism for culture and sustainable development.

Koen Vermeir at the Finish Presidency conference Creative Transformations © Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture

Koen Vermeir, co-chair of the Global Young Academy, gave a keynote speech on “Culture, Education and Enlightenment: tension and cooperation in Europe’s past, present and future” in which he discussed the sometimes tenuous relationship between culture and democracy. He also warned of the possible appropriation of the discourse of culture and identity against the European project. He argued for the need to transcend false oppositions – between reason and emotion, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, modernity and tradition – and to integrate opposing perspectives on culture. The JRC Enlightenment 2.0 project, which was featured at GYA’s Annual General Meeting in May 2019 in Halle, Germany, is a good example of how such oppositions are transcended in the realm of science-informed policy making.

During the 2-day conference, other experts discussed ways to increase and measure creativity in education, new approaches towards cultural heritage and how AI and Robotics can be used in creativity training and education.