Voices from Unite! Summer Community Event
Future generations of European citizens will require new educational formats that offer flexibility and that can be easily communicated to students, teachers and non-teaching staff. This desire provided the foundation for the EU-financed university alliance, Unite! Between 13-15 June, KTH hosted Unite! Summer Community Event that gathered participants from all European universities in the alliance.
“The alliance will offer students from graduate to master and PhD level endless possibilities to design their own tracks. They’ll get a unique graduate profile and can move more or less freely within these seven (soon to become nine) universities,” says Mirko Varano, KTH’s Key Liaison Officer for the alliance.
“The main idea in the pilot phase was to create new joint activities and test them on a small scale, then to expand to other schools” Varano adds. “Now we’re planning to be more visible. The next aims are to offer not only joint programmes, but individual courses, modules, summer schools that students can pick directly, knowing they won’t need to struggle for recognition afterwards.”
With the project nearing the end of its pilot phase, KTH hosted the latest joint meeting (known as “Dialogues”) from June 13-15. Members from the individual universities, many meeting each other for the first time in real life, took part in a series of operative sessions and workshops and plotted the next steps for the project.
For the hosts, KTH’s Pia Schmitt has several roles in the project, including the coordination of one of the so called Work packages, projects within the project.
“Our work focuses on developing a Unite! strategy for societal outreach and the involvement of citizens in R&I jointly,” she says.
“At the meeting in Stockholm, discussions for us were focused on the next steps and task forces of the project (e.g., developing pilots for outreach activities and involving citizens and stakeholders, with a workshop in the autumn) and finalising this year’s joint Unite! European Researchers’ Night on “smart cities.” I also took the opportunity to reach out to colleagues of other groups to create synergies.”
Meanwhile student mobility discussions were high on the agenda for Constance Chevallier-Govers, who was representing the Grenoble INP. She was focused here on task force meetings and leading the presentation of the Unite! students initiative.
“We presented the deliverables of the Hack@COVID hackathon and also the inaugural session of the European Student Assembly,” Constance says.
“My work for the project also involves helping develop Unite! student community life. I dream of listening the concert of the future Unite! orchestra or watching a Unite! football tournament!”
Another international participant, Francesca Ferrero, works in the Joint Mobility Center and the Student Engagement and Welcome Centre for Unite!
“As a mobility coordinator at Politecnico di Torino, I also support the administrative management of the Virtual Exchange Credit Programmes initiatives,” she says. The initiative gives students the chance to access online courses at the Unite! partner universities thus substituting elective courses and gain credits which are recognised at their home university
“During the Summer Community Event, I took part in the session on Intercultural communication with the aim of increasing my competence in this field and using it in my daily work. It’s my hope that Unite! can serve as an example of how to transform European education,” Ferrero adds.
The Stockholm meeting was the last chance for the group to plan the final part of the pilot phase in presence. Varano adds that they will get together again in Torino in September, but that will be focused more on kick-off plans for the next phase of the project.
“This meeting in Stockholm was a good test for us to grow the community feeling and generate even more momentum and excitement. We wanted to bring the message of why we’re doing this and where we’re heading.”
Text: Geoff Mortimore