After the first EELISA Community initiatives got off to a good start and the first educators and researchers (especially within the several EELISA institutions) networked effectively, it became obvious that it is one of the major challenges for EELISA Communities to create international outreach.
In order to tackle this challenge, creating visibility of EELISA Communities is one of the major work tasks for EELISA Work Package 4 in the next year. In this context, it is the goal of this EELISA Work Package to collaborate closely with EELISA WP9 (Sustainability and Dissemination) and the EELISA Communication Management to enable EELISA Communities and their leaders to promote themselves in and outside of the EELISA Alliance and to provide necessary communication and networking tools.
Some of the upcoming planned actions are linked to EELISA Communities are:
- Joint calls for EELISA Communities: focus on strengthening interdisciplinary and inter-university activities of EELISA staff members, faculty members or EELISA students
- EELISA networking platform: The platform will feature different Community sections, along with their missions, activities and members.
- EELISAConnect2Students & EELISAConnect2Business: connection and outreach to students and businesses
- Continue EELISAconnect: enable physical meetings for as many EELISA Community initiatives as possible
- Continue “EELISA Knowledge Bites” – follow the concept of “train the trainers” or “educating educators” to prepare Community Leader for educational tasks
And one of the most important events organized for the EELISA Communities during 2021 took place last December. You will find all the details in the following report written by EELISA student & narrator Yuliia Labenska.
EELISA Communities Day “From Roots to Shoots”: An Overview
Just right before Christmas break, the EELISA-FAU team in cooperation with Zollhof, organized a special online event to boost the development of EELISA Communities. This “EELISA Community Day” was aimed to bring the members from different EELISA Communities together and enable mutual exchange. They had the chance to get to know each other better, and discuss main challenges and opportunities. That is why the main slogan of the day was “From roots to shoots” – the EELISA alliance needs to develop and grow from inside to outside.
More than 50 participants took part in the event and made their valuable contributions. The day started with a few rounds of “speed-dating” so members of different EELISA Communities could find a connection and make future teamwork more productive. This opening was followed by a lecture from Open Innovation Coach Dr. Karl Rabels, who gave new insights into the difficulties of co-creation in international teams and explained how a new FAST approach to setting the goals can help achieve better results. Then, several simultaneous working sessions were launched. They were focused on shaping further development of EELISA Communities by determining a strategy in three key directions: Student Engagement, Business & Society Outreach, Communication & Presentation. Each session was split into groups of two to establish the main values and possibilities for the communication and engagement of major stakeholders – students and business.
To provide mutual support between EELISA Communities, every member shared the main activities and challenges of their communities so they could be discussed in plenum and all together participants found the possibilities for cooperation. Additionally, inspirational lectures from guest speakers gave a better understanding of how to move on, work together, and overcome these challenges. For the “Outreach to Business & Society” room, the guest speaker was Konstanze Welter from Siemens; for “Student Engagement”, was Prof. Dr. Jeff Wilkesmann (Education Lead EIT Health Germany) who took the word, and expert Juliane Oert from Zollhof was sharing her expertise in the “Communication” room.
After this intense and very productive day, EELISA gathered the following conclusions that can also be very valuable for both current and upcoming EELISA Communities.
About student engagement:
- An effective way to involve students into EELISA Communities is by integrating student activities into the curriculum;
- It is important to gather information about students’ interests, needs, and availability to adapt communication strategy;
- Internationalization and student mobility are the main incentives to motivate students to participate;
- Connection with previous participants can serve as a way to engage students in new communities.
About business outreach:
- Business partners are valuable to reach out to the society;
- EELISA Communities can offer access to multidisciplinary research or student teams which bring a fresh view and a European dimension;
- To establish connections, it is essential to build a database of companies and institutions which are interested in working with EELISA Communities on particular problems and challenges;
- A platform can be also used for posting business and academic opportunities;
- Researchers and businesses can together engage with citizens.
- Physical meetings are key for effective communication;
- Effective communication channels are needed, different media channels and joint tools can be used for outreach;
- Communication has to remain clear and include personal values and maybe humor to be more engaging;
- Set expectations clear;
- Create an appealing and “entertaining” presentation of your EELISA Community
This “EELISA Community Day” is expected to be the first of many more to come soon. Stay tuned!.
Yuliia Labenska (EELISA narrator & student)