The spring of 2020 no doubt presents a turning point which made many events worldwide not only more accessible to everyone online, but also putting those organized online head to head with traditional formats.
The shift from in-person events into webinars took the world by storm and oikos was no exception. With a lot of experience behind us of working and coordinating projects in a virtual space, it’s safe to say oikos was to some extent a pioneer in working entirely online. This made the transition of oikos International projects from on-site to online a rather smooth one and the International team was quick to not only adapt, but also do its part in providing oikos local chapters with resources which would allow them to do the same.
Not long ago we featured a story of a cross-chapter collaboration between the oikos Hong Kong and Suzhou chapters organizing a case study competition in an online format. Today we’ll be going halfway across the world to Austria, digitally of course, where the Vienna and Graz chapters bridged the physical distance between their cities in a lockdown through the power of the internet. The two chapters worked together on a couple of occasions in the months behind us and organized webinars on some quite interesting and very important topics, addressing the questions of sustainable travel or taking the battles for the climate to court.
In this article we want to highlight their big contribution to the oikos calendar with events aimed at the entire oikos Community, by virtually taking a seat with Katharina Klinger, Vice President and Head of Relations in oikos Vienna.
Vienna and Graz are the two largest cities of Austria, respectively, where oikos has been present at universities for a while. With just around 200 kilometers between the cities, the cooperation between the two chapters came naturally, but there are also practical reasons to collaborate with the closest neighbor. The chapters coming together allowed them to join their respective knowledge, experience and members interested and motivated to make a change in order to engage with a wider audience and introduce oikos to more students throughout Austria.
Hence the two chapters have a history of cooperation prior to the pandemic in working together on both online and in-person projects. In early 2020 the chapters jointly organized a webinar on sustainable finance, while also using the perks of the internet allowing them to organize on-site events in both Vienna and Graz with a speaker joining both through webcam. No doubt the success of these projects encouraged the two chapters to once the circumstances no longer allowed for in-person events.
The webinars organized by the two chapters had a sizeable audience going beyond their respective campuses. Reaching a large number of people is crucial in realizing the oikos Mission and Vision and is a guarantee of making a meaningful impact.
When it comes to both oikos Vienna and oikos Graz, having the other side working alongside local chapter members allowed them to expand their teams with motivated and friendly colleagues from another city, providing support, exchanging ideas and experiences while also forging new friendships. Furthermore, taking part in a cross-chapter project isn’t too different to working on one within the chapter. As Katharina points out there’s always something to learn from working with oikos Graz – be it organizing work, structuring projects or simply getting new perspectives and tools to potentially implement in your own chapter.
There’s immense positive impact for chapters from cooperation – working together and realizing an event definitely inspires and motivates chapter members following a successful project. Though there was a slight downside when it comes to working entirely online on a project and it’s the lack of an in-person contact. But the two chapters plan to overcome it with a get-together once the circumstances allow it.
Katharina is positive oikos Vienna’s cooperation with Graz will last and grow even stronger, while always remaining open to expand the cross-chapter collaboration with other chapters. She also stresses the positive side effects and benefits in the forms of experience, knowledge as well as social commitment.
Finally, we’d like to back Katharina’s words of encouragement to all chapters to give cross-chapter projects a try and take away many great things that come from it.
We’d like to thank Katharina for taking part in creating this article and her eagerness to share her chapter’s experience.
Author: Stefan Krasic
oikos International Communication Manager