In an effort to make one of Estonia's largest civic events more accessible to people of all backgrounds, the fifth annual Opinion Festival, which will take place on Aug. 11-12 in Paide, will feature more English-language content than ever on a variety of topics.
The ten English-language discussions and one English-language theater performace, which together will make up the highest yet concentration of English-language content at the festival, will address a diverse range of topics, ranging from the sustainability of Estonia's startup sccene to the growing popularity of veganism and changes in the EU, according to a festival press release.
While festival organizers consciously limited the number of discussions overall — to 162 spread over two days — the decision not to limit English-language content was a decision acknowleging the importance of English alongside Estonian Russian as a festival languagw and reflecting increasing interest from discussion organizers in fully tapping into expertise available in Estonia and neighboring countries.
English-language dicussions will take place across all six core themes of the festival — technology, labor and markets, education, the living environment, the individual as well as community. Some will challenge typical looks at Estonia's tech sector and startup scenes with different takes on related matters, while another will address diversity and the adoption of English as a working language in the Estonian workplace.
In order to promote the Opinion Festival's philosophy of inclusivity, one discussion on Saturday will not be led by speakers but instead take place in the World Café format, in which small groups of people move from table to table to discuss various issues related to the topic of diversity.
Other discussions will touch on topics related to social responsibility and consumer education, including issues related to palm oil production and veganism, topics related to Europe as a whole, including the impact of Brexit and the Catalan independence movement, and the role and impact of democracy festivals, including similar events in the Nordic and Baltic regions.
The full festival program is available here (link in Estonian; uncheck "eesti and "vene" boxes at top to view only English-language discussions).
Editor: Aili Vahtla