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This spring, students from across Una Europa universities came together to collaboratively develop concepts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion across our campuses.

During April and May of 2022, 50 students from eight Una Europa universities joined forces in intercultural and interdisciplinary teams to advance the inclusion of diverse student bodies in our universities.

The students tackled challenges on topics related to:

  • inclusion of working students
  • support for first-generation university students
  • integration of international students

And more!

See all challenges presented by the universities

The Una.Together programme took place over seven weeks, including informative lectures, an opening weekend, engaging workshops and a final showcase – all organised online.

Double diamond and design thinking

The lectures provided students with key concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion and how to work in intercultural teams. This gave the participants the opportunity to discuss and share their own experiences and consider different points of view on the issues. Additionally, some lectures included presentations by researchers in the field and practitioners.

During the opening weekend, students were finally able to start working virtually in their teams and were introduced to their challenge. Through the use of the double diamond model and design thinking, the teams brainstormed all the problems and solutions they could identify under their challenge topic and started identifying the key concept they wanted to work on.

For the next three weeks, the teams joined workshops and gained new insights on the use of the lean canvas, empathy mapping, pitching and communication and also had the opportunity to gain new insights from a diverse group of experts for an Expert Sparring night. Additionally, they were able to present and discuss with their mentors and challenge contact persons, to get both insights on how to come up with a feasible solution, but also contextual knowledge about the situation within each university and country.

The final showcase

In the final showcase, the teams pitched their solutions in three minutes and took questions from the jury. Some universities had organised physical gatherings and the whole event was live-streamed on YouTube.

After long, suspenseful deliberation, the most impactful ideas were announced.

Third place was shared by two teams, the Helsinki challenge team (inclusive environments for supporting students with different language skills) and the Paris challenge team (improving equality of opportunity/success for students working to finance their studies). In second place was the Berlin challenge team (reducing institutional and language barriers that hinder first-generation students). And finally, in the first place, the jury announced the Bologna challenge team (fostering inclusive environments for international students at big universities with multiple campuses)!

The prize for the winning team will visit Bologna in autumn 2022 and pitch their idea in person to relevant staff and hopefully the opportunity to start working on the implementation! More will be reported on that later.

Quotes from Una.Together participants

About Expert Sparring night:

  • “It was very nice to receive different points of views from different experts about our project.”
  • “We got some really good feedback, also about things we hadn't thought about yet. Thanks so much!”
  • “You can always learn more and think about things that you have never thought about, especially with the right motivation. Thank you so much for this opportunity!”
  • “It was great to hear all the feedback, it helped us clarify our ideas and organise solutions, our group can clearly see next steps in the challenge now. Thank you to all the experts and the Helsinki team!”
  • “Thank you to all the experts, we got very good advice to help continue our project.”

About participating in Una.Together:

  • “I think if I could sum up the Una.Together experience in one word it would be companionship. I have learned to open my mind and identify new problems that affect my surroundings, and at the same time, I have made friends with whom, since the first workshop, I have felt a great closeness. Finally, I would like to emphasize how well Helsinki Think Company and Una Europa have done, they have been able to bring together people from different specialities and cultures and to carry out many interesting initiatives thanks to their workshops from which we received good recommendations.”
  • “What I enjoyed the most about these last few weeks was the company of all these new people I met and how well we all supported each other. Since it is not something I am dealing with every day, I enjoyed taking time to actively think about these very important subjects with my team and other participants and come up with creative ways to solve particular issues regarding the subjects. It was an insightful and precious period that I will cherish for a long time!”
  • “During Una.Together, I was able to learn how to adjust and readjust the same idea thanks to the support of different experts. In addition, we were given the opportunity to think about all the stages of finalizing the project and to anticipate the potential difficulties that could have arisen. These forecasts bring a new way of thinking about a project, not only in the short term but also in the medium and long term.”
  • “The particularity of our team was the benevolence and the mutual support which were particularly present when a person could not attend a meeting or when the proposals made did not necessarily go in the direction of the group while thinking of the common interest. We were able to develop a close relationship and confront our different points of view, which were sometimes radically opposed because of our different backgrounds and the different experiences that each of us had.”
  • “It was inspiring to learn from the experts from different organisations. As they have a wide range of expertise and concerns, their input expanded our scope and depth of attention in developing our ideas.”

This initiative is an element of the 1Europe Project, organised in collaboration with the University of Helsinki and Helsinki Think Company.

Contact information

Any questions? Reach out to Stinne Vognæs, Una-Together coordinator