CHARM-EU closes its first project with successful Annual Conference
Following two previous events organized in the virtual world, the University of Barcelona hosted the 2022 CHARM-EU Annual Conference, the first yearly gathering of the Alliance held in a presential format. The event welcomed the colleagues from the eight partner universities – including ELTE – as well as students, academics, representatives of other European University Alliances, policymakers and external stakeholders from business and society. The two-day event provided a lively atmosphere for fruitful discussions and served as a worthy closure to the first project while also foreshadowing the ambitions for the next years of cooperation.
In order to set the stage for the event and explore the main theme, Rector Joan Guàrdia Olmos (University of Barcelona) opened the conference chairing a special panel. Following his welcoming words, the interactive session united a student, an Academic Board member and a Project Manager from CHARM-EU as well as an external stakeholder from the UN Global Compact to set the tone by discussing from four different perspectives the main challenges and achievements related to the European Universities Initiative and to sustainability.
To further frame the event and place CHARM-EU – as well as the role of European Universities – in a broader context, Head of the European Commission’s Higher Education Unit Vanessa Debiais-Sainton joined the next session online to share the perspective of the European Commission. She congratulated CHARM-EU for its successful application in the 2022 Erasmus+ European Universities Call and highlighted the importance of ‘deploying’ the new perspectives gained in CHARM-EU within the partner institutions. She emphasized that the objective of the EU is to
enable students to study and learn to cooperate across borders and disciplines in order to be able to tackle the great challenges of our time.
Following her speech, Undersecretary Markus González Beilfuss from the Spanish Ministry of Universities provided valuable insights on the role and impact of the European Universities on the national level, reflecting on some of the challenges that member states face when dealing with Alliances. He highlighted the importance of internal change, international dialogue as well as a more intense dissemination of the initiative to the European society.
After discussing the impact of European University Alliances in the European and national contexts, the plenary sessions of the first day focused on the building of CHARM-EU during the past 3 years as well as on best practices developed by fellow Alliances. Representatives of the founding universities – including Ferenc Takó, Head of ELTE’s CHARM-EU Office – shared their experiences gained as project directors coordinating the implementation of CHARM-EU and discussed the priorities and ambitions for the next years. Afterwards, speakers coming from the EUTOPIA, 4EU+ and Una Europa alliances introduced their own achievements, lessons learnt, best practices and plans for the future in a panel that
showcased the transformative and innovative potential of the European Universities Initiative.
Following the lunch-break, participants had the possibility to attend one of the five thematic breakout-sessions of the event aiming to cover different strategic topics linked to the objectives of the new CHARM-EIGHT project. In Breakout Session 1, CHARM-EU colleagues – including Assistant Professor Ágnes Albert from ELTE’s Faculty of Humanities – shared the challenges and successes in connection with the piloting of the Master’s in Global Challenges for Sustainability. Breakout Session 2 chaired by Prof. Imre Hamar, ELTE’s Vice-rector for International Affairs focused on CHARM-EU’s governance model explaining the design of the new model developed for the Alliance as well as the necessary steps for its implementation. In Breakout Session 3 – chaired by Péter Tordai, ELTE’s Deputy Director for mobility – participants discussed challenges, solutions and best practices in the organization of short- and long-term physical and blended mobilities as part of joint degree programs within university alliances. Breakout Session 4 chaired by ELTE’s Vice-rector for Education Prof. László Zentai contributed to the debate on how alliance-level innovation and best practices could be mainstreamed in order to support institutional level transformation, while Breakout session 5 focused on the role of alliances in building the bridge between research and educational practice.
In the final session of the first day, philosopher Daniel Innerarity, essayist and professor of Political and Social Philosophy gave a special keynote speech about shaping a new relationship between science and society. He explored the distinction between laboratory and the external world, science and other social systems, experts and laypeople and finally, between scientific truth and public opinion.
The second day started with a plenary session showcasing examples and experiences on IT infrastructure, interoperability and the future of digitalisation. CHARM-EU educationalists as well as representatives of the EuroTeQ and UNITE! alliances discussed their achievements, while Innovation Manager Christien Bok from SURF talked about how to construct a European digital ecosystem for education. During the second panel focusing on inclusion, a core value of the CHARM-EU Alliance, ELTE’s Ágnes Sarolta Fazekas, leader of the Inclusiveness Team presented
how accessibility and inclusion have been step by step interwoven into CHARM-EU’s DNA.
Connecting also to this topic, the last panel focused on the principles of the New European Bauhaus and the values of the European Universities working towards a sustainable and inclusive future. Joining online from Strasbourg, MEP Marco Ros Sempere welcomed participants and summarised the ambition of the New European Bauhaus on combining beauty, social engagement and sustainability, then session panellists discussed the multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach of the initiative.
The 2022 CHARM-EU Annual Conference was ended with a network lunch and a workshop in partnership with UNI(di)VERSITY, closing the first phase of cooperation within the CHARM-EU Alliance and setting the tone for the next 4 years of working and building together the universities of the future.
The Alliance will prepare a policy brief with the most important conclusions and recommendations discussed during the event. You can read about the conference in more detail and look at the gallery on the page of CHARM-EU.