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ETH Week 2016: Challenging Water. Illustration: Patric Sandri.  
ETH Week 2016: Challenging Water. Illustration: Patric Sandri.
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Sunday – Meet

The first day of ETH Week is all about getting to know the group. You start with a team building exercise to warm up where you also meet your tutor. He or she also accompanies you throughout the week and helps you stay on track. In addition, we ask you to share your personal water stories and discuss your expectations for the week. In this way, you will be ready to get started on Monday morning.

Gerd Folkers and Lukas Möller

Gerd Folkers and Lukas Möller formally open ETH Week 2016. Gerd Folkers is the President of the Swiss Science and Innovation Council SSIC and the Head of the Critical Thinking Initiative. Lukas Möller is a student, former participant of the ETH Week and the President of the Student Association Council of VSETH.

In the evening, we round off the day with dinner. Afterwards, our guests from NGOs such as 'Züriwasser', start-ups and other actors give you a taste of different drinking water projects from around the world.

Michael Kropac, Andreas Batliner

Michael Kropac, Co‐Director of the International Centre for Water Management Services (CEWAS), is moderating the talks. Andreas Batliner from Züriwasser tells you more about the value of Zurichs drinking water and why he is supporting various drinking water projects around the globe.

Monday – Experience

On Monday, we send you out into the real world to collect information. After a first overview of global water challenges in the morning, your group splits: each member participates in another excursion to meet a relevant stakeholder with a different relation to the topic of water.

Bernhard Wehrli and Darcy Molnar

Bernhard Wehrli, Professor for Aquatic Chemistry, and Darcy Molnar, Coordinator of the MAS Programme on Sustainable Water Resources, provides you with an overview of the complex topic of water.

In the afternoon, we ask you to bring back one story from your excursion. Your task is to map out the different actors, how they connect and what challenges they face.

When everybody is done, we will meet at the buffet in the ETH Week Hall for dinner.

Hartmut von Sass, Georg Steinmann

On Monday night, we have invited Hartmut von Sass, Associate Professor for Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion at University of Zurich, and George Steinmann, visual artist, musician and researcher. We won’t tell you the full story of this evening just yet: Think of it as a cultural approach to the topic of water...

Tuesday – Filter

On Tuesday we give you more input to work with: In the morning, our water experts introduce you to the five key topics of the UN World Water Development Report 2015: Water for sanitation and hygiene, water for urbanization, water for food and agriculture, water for energy, and water for industry.

Max Maurer, Stefanie Hellweg and Eberhart Morgenroth
Christian Zurbrügg and Helge Fuchs

Max Maurer, Professor for Urban Water Systems; Stefanie Hellweg, Professor for Ecological Systems Design; Eberhard Morgenroth, Professor for Process Engineering in Urban Water Management; Christian Zurbrügg, Deputy head of the Department Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (Sandec), and Helge Fuchs, Senior assistant at the Chair for Hydraulic Structures give you an overview on the most interesting challenges in the five topics.

Klement Tockner

Today, a series of three key note lunch lectures starts to complement the main programme. Klement Tockner, Director of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), holds the first lecture. He explains the role of water for the environment and for ecosystem services to you.

After lunch, your group spreads out to meet more experts at the ‘ETH Week Knowledge Fair’. We have invited about 25 representatives from industry, NGOs or academia with whom you get to discuss in small groups and gain a deeper understanding of the five topics. Each one has a story to tell, be it about their product, their awareness campaign, or their scientific research. It is your task to lead the conversations and uncover critical facts. This will help you build your own water story later in the week.

During the rest of the afternoon, you continue adding more detail to your map of actors, add the challenges they face and locate synergies or connections. Together, you then draft a first problem statement.

Dinner is again served in ETH Week Hall. Did we mention that there is also a bar and music to take the discussions further?

Wednesday – Define

During ETH Week, we provide you with a nurturing environment where creative and critical thinking is fostered and dynamic peer-to-peer learning allows you to grow as a student. Therefore, we ask you to define your own problem instead of working on a pre-defined one.

To achieve this, you will meet a group of design thinking facilitators. It is their responsibility to help you navigate and control the pace of the process. You ideate on solutions and build prototypes that help you refine your ideas and communicate them to others. As soon as your ideas have matured, you go back to the stakeholders you met on the previous days and ask them for their opinion. You test if your ideas make sense.

Stefano Brusoni and Alan Cabello

Stefano Brusoni, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management MTEC, his senior researcher Alan Cabello Llamas and their team are your facilitators on Wednesday and Thursday.

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is a Canadian author and the winner of the Right Livelihood Award 2005 – also known the 'Alternative Nobel Prize'. She is the Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, a NGO that advocates clean water and co-founder of the Blue Planet Project that works internationally for the human right to water. In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly. Maude has authored and co-authored 16 books and is the recipient of 12 honorary doctorates. Her lunch lecture is reflecting the role of water as a human right.

Halfway through the week, your group needs to become very efficient. Many tasks need to be achieved in parallel before your first presentation. Do research, make the underlying motivations and constraints explicit and check facts and figures. The outcome is one sentence: your problem statement, that you present on stage in the evening.

Afterwards, we move to Lake Zurich. You get the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports activities such as stand-up paddling classes, a volleyball match or slacklining.

Ernst Bromeis

Ernst Bromeis, ultra long-distance swimmer and water ambassador speaks about his extraordinary expeditions, as for example his intention to swim down the entire river Rhine. In parallel, we enjoy a barbecue session during sunset.  

Thursday – Test

Sarah Springman

Every morning, you get the chance to meet other participants during the sport sessions consisting of yoga, rowing classes and running. On Thursday, Sarah Springman, Rector of ETH Zurich, joins us for a morning run and cheers you on for the two final days.

Remember the Knowledge Fair? Today we hold the second one, but turn things around. After lunch, you present your prototype to experts while they go around and give feedback. For this, you turn your ideas of Wednesday into graspable solutions in the morning. You also start building a story. Why are you working on this particular challenge? How feasible is a solution? What are the implications?

Stefano Brusoni and Alan Cabello

Stefano Brusoni, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management MTEC, his senior researcher Alan Cabello Llamas and their team are present to help again.

Suzanne Thoma

The last lunch lecture is held by Suzanne Thoma. She is the CEO of ‘The BKW Group’, an international energy and infrastructure business based in Bern that employs 4,500 people. As ETH Alumnus she has worked in a range of roles and countries, e.g. as Head of the Automotive Division of the WICOR Group, CEO of Rolic Technologies Ltd., and for Ciba Spezialitätenchemie AG.

You then go into the final phase. With only one day left until the final event, things are coming together fast. Work in the feedback you got, take last decisions and most importantly, figure out how to best convince the audience that your ideas make sense. We think that the bar might come in handy today!

Friday – Communicate

The ball is in your corner now. You have time to polish your presentation, finish your prototype, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Clean up your team working space and tie up loose ends. All 18 groups get to be on stage.

Sarah Springman

After lunch, Sarah Springman, Rector of ETH Zurich, and many other guests and experts are be curious to listen to your ideas. It is the time to present what you've been working on the entire week!

After dinner we hold a closing party, where you can discuss your experiences, exchange numbers or simply celebrate with your team!



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