The Meta-University is an initiative launched in 2020 as an alternative to the traditional on-field universities to keep working on youth participation, intercultural dialogue and global citizenship amidst the Covid-19 pandemic while exploring the possibilities of digital youth work.

Since the pandemic crisis has challenged the traditional spaces for dialogue and accelerated the process of shrinking space for civil society, the Meta-University was designed as a platform to reduce the side effects that a disintegration of physical connections might bring to young people and to address the concerns of the youth sector facing the pandemic.

One of the etymological streams of the Greek word “meta” is connected to the concept of “in-between”, an oscillation between future, present and past. The Meta-University brought together young people, youth workers and youth policy makers across continents to harness the possibilities offered by the “in between” space we are living in.

A multi-level experience

The Meta-University allows different levels of engagement and involves a variety of partners (grassroots initiatives, institutional organisations, national bodies and international networks) covering diverse regions of the world. 

The programme is built together with partner organisations from different regions of the world and implemented through a variety of activities which enabled participants to choose among different levels of engagement.

During the four-day programme, participants had the opportunity to:

expand knowledge and build new skills by taking part in one or more of the webinars promoted by partner organisations;

contribute to the global youth agenda by following the plenary sessions focused on current key issues of the youth sector;

connect with peers and practice intercultural dialogue by joining informal gatherings such as online coffee-breaks, digital creative games and facilitated group chats;

build a network by mingling in the “expo area” to learn about new projects and opportunities, checking each other’s profiles, starting a video call and set up new partnerships.

High interactivity

The distinguishing element of the Meta-University is its high interactivity based on a social media approach. With the support of a team of professional facilitators, the event encourages interaction among all entities and youth representatives within a comfortable but structured digital space.

The “social feed” feature allows everyone to share experiences, start a debate or comment on each other’s posts. Pictures and memories from previous “physical” Universities (UYD or MedUni) populated the “social feed” reconnecting old friends but also allowing a reflection on the evolution of the youth sector.

This is a distinguish feature of the Meta-University, overcoming the one-stream approach commonly used in many institutional online youth events.

Video teaser 2021 edition

ubanda's songs for the meta university

Ubanda is musical collective set up by the North-South Centre specifically for the residential Summer Universities. Ubanda complements the pedagogical teams by adding the musical and artistic dimension to the event. It gathers musicians from different countries and during the universities works with all participants on intercultural dialogue and social inclusion overcoming language barriers.

The specificities of the digital format of the Meta University did not allow Ubanda to express all its potential, yet the artists succeed in writing and recording music videos which were streamed throughout the online event. The song “Reconnect” was specifically created for the Meta-University and became its soundtrack.