Skip to navigation Skip to main content
All stories

Faces of our CommUNAty: "Delegates will learn about Ireland’s history, as well as think about their own story."

Features -

Since joining the Una Europa team at University College Dublin (UCD) in spring of this year, Senior Project Lead Catherine Lovett has hit the ground running. She tells us what it's been like getting to grips with her new role, successfully submitting the alliance's first deliverable under our roll-out project, Una.Futura, and what the alliance community can look forward to at the Una Europa General Assembly in Dublin (11–13 December 2023).

Catherine, you joined Una Europa as a staff member reasonably recently. How have you found the experience?

I joined UCD’s Una Europa team in April of this year. I had been working in the international office at UCD’s School of Medicine. I was aware UCD had joined Una Europa and I was vaguely aware of the Focus Areas – particularly One Health – but other than that, Una Europa was quite new to me. So, it’s been quite a steep learning curve since joining. However, it’s really exciting to be working on such an ambitious European initiative.

I’m lucky to have some great staff working with me at UCD. I’m leading on Work Package 11: Community-Building, Outreach and Dissemination, but I’m not a communications person by trade. I’m blessed to have Sylvia Leatham, Una Europa Communications Lead for UCD, working with me. She provides the communications expertise I need for this Work Package. Our Senior Local Leads – Shane Lordan and Colleen Doyle – are fantastic, too.

What has been your highlight since joining the alliance?

The Una Europa General Assembly in Leiden in June 2023 was one of my highlights. I was fairly new to the alliance, so it was quite timely. I got a better sense of what the alliance does, and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet people face-to-face – people I’d seen on calls, trying to remember everybody’s name! – and forge new connections and relationships.

A personal highlight for me was the validation of our Community-Building, Outreach and Dissemination Plan, which was not only the first deliverable of Work Package 11 but the first deliverable the alliance submitted to the European Commission under the Una.Futura project. It was due in June, so having started my role in April, I had quite a short lead-in period to work on it. I was really pleased that it has received positive feedback overall. Now I’m looking forward to implementing the plan.

UCD will host the Una Europa General Assembly from 11 to 13 December. What can the alliance community look forward to?

UCD is excited to be hosting the General Assembly in Dublin. The theme is storytelling, reflecting our role as Work Package 11 lead university, and Ireland and UCD’s literary history. On Monday 11 December, we’ll host the Una Europa Talk, Rewriting the Script: European Universities alliances and the future of higher education. This will be framed by the story of Ireland’s journey in Europe: how Ireland has transformed in the 50 years since joining the EU. There will be an exhibition, Into Europe: Ireland and the EU, 1973–2023, commissioned by Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs, which explores Ireland’s relationship with the European Union.

We’ll host two lunchtime storytelling performances with a professional storyteller. Delegates will also have an opportunity to engage with Irish culture through traditional music performances and a lunchtime Irish language class, as well as opportunities to explore the campus through a woodland walk and a sculpture trail. We have also arranged tours of the UCD Library’s Special Collections, and a visit to the National Folklore Archive, which is housed in the university.

It’s an exciting and engaging programme that will allow delegates to learn more about Ireland’s history and culture, as well as think about their own story they want to tell – the journey they want to go on with Una Europa.