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Bolstering our foundation for the future: Una Europa in Berlin

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Earlier this month Freie Universität Berlin hosted the first in-person meeting of the alliance in almost two years. Fifty academic staff, students, and heads of the eight Una Europa partner universities from Berlin, Bologna, Edinburgh, Leuven, Madrid (Complutense), Krakow, Helsinki and Paris (Pantheon-Sorbonne) came together for the Una Europa General Assembly, a series of meetings which sought to identify, explore and secure the building blocks that will form our 2030 Strategy and refine our outputs and activity in the future. These blocks include:

  • enhancing our sense of community,
  • our commitment to Sustainability,
  • integrating values of diversity and inclusion,
  • advocating for multilingualism,
  • Una Europa as a creative hub,
  • developing an effective governance framework for quality assurance,
  • constructing a transformational Research & Innovation strategy,
  • creating a process of joint course development and pooling resources,
  • pushing for internationalisation through collaboration with Africa,
  • supporting local public engagement and collaboration with local communities,
  • and offering skills training for students and early-stage researchers.

Find out more about Una Europa 2030

" The European Commission has invited us to give input on both what we are doing and what we think is important for the future. At the same, time we are the trial balloon, so we can trial new formats and feed that back into European discussion "

Verena Blechinger-Talcott, Chair of Una Europa’s Board of Directors & Vice-President International at Freie Universität Berlin

Using our past to inform our present and shape our future

A key focus of the General Assembly was reflecting on the work we have done so far in developing joint programmes in teaching and facilitating cooperation in research and innovation. This reflection enables us to draw from experience and use the lessons learned thus far to inform and improve our work moving forward. Ensuring that our values are guiding our work in the present, discussions on sustainability, diversity and multilingualism took centre stage, as well as the legal form the network will take in the future. Looking to the future, participants also discussed how they could initiate partnerships with institutions outside of Europe, for example, by reinforcing cooperation with partners in Africa.

The Una Europa 2030 Strategy is crucial to the development of the alliance as we move into the next phase of our work, the roll-out. Changing the higher education landscape of Europe is a significant undertaking that requires commitment and regular adjustment to ensure that we are working well together, both as an alliance and with other European University Networks. It was refreshing to take the time to reaffirm our vision for the European University of the Future, leaving us energised and excited to move to the next phase of the project.

" A university is a machine with a number of activities, from teaching to scholarship, to research, & people as well. How do we think of ways in which all these aspects of university work will create a benefitting balance for our environment & future world? "

Professor Dr. Soledad Garcia Ferrari, Personal Chair of Global Urbanism and Resilience, University of Edinburgh & Member of the Future UniLab Sustainability Visionaries

Una Europa Talk: European Universities - Driving the Sustainable University of the Future?

Complimenting the discussions on Una Europa 2030 Freie Universität Berlin also hosted the second Una Europa Talk, kicking off our time in Berlin with a high-level panel discussion. The Talk explored the role universities can and must play in creating the Sustainable University of the Future, and was an integral part of this year’s programme for Berlin Science Week, organised in collaboration with the Falling Walls Foundation.

The second Una Europa Talk brought together experts from across Una Europa as well as representation from CHARM-EU, another European University Alliance. The panel discussed the role and responsibility of European Universities in driving sustainable change, creating a landscape of higher education built on sustainability and achieving well-being of citizens and society at large. The Talk provided space for diverse viewpoints, notably students, teachers, researchers and professional staff from across the European University community; the community that will be central to transforming into a Sustainable University of the Future.

" Universities work to shape the human mind in terms of how we educate, what we educate, how we research, what we research, how we innovate, who we innovate with. Working across those & taking on board the individual & collective approach, we can make change "

Doris Alexander, Associate Director of European Engagement at Trinity College Dublin and Member of the Project Management Team for CHARM-EU European University Alliance

Sustainability is fundamental to Una Europa and everything we do; it is a strategic building block of the alliance. Una Europa partner institutions share an understanding of the ‘sustainable university’ as an institution that systematically develops communities, opportunities, spaces, and projects to tackle global environmental and societal challenges. All partner universities see it as their institutional responsibility to actively shape global discourse and address the related challenges in all areas of our universities, developing a ‘whole-institution approach’ to sustainability in linking efforts in teaching, research, service to society as well as governance and campus management.

The Second Una Europa Talk was live-streamed to YouTube. A recording of the event can be accessed via the Una Europa YouTube channel.

" When you look at eight universities with the same strategy, we have more approaches to take into account, we have more good practices... so, it’s crucial because it gives us more material to work on… the more of us, the better "

Aleksandra Lis, PhD Student in Cultural Studies, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie

Want to read more about Una Europa's visit to Berlin? Check out these news stories written by our university partners:

Story by Heather McComb, Una Europa Digital Communications Officer.

This story was created as part of our community-building initiatives under the 1Europe Project.