Last week, EELISA representatives met in Budapest to celebrate the EELISA Executive Board meeting. This was also a chance to gather and acknowledge the main achievements of the alliance in its almost two years of existence.
“The EELISA Achievements Celebration Event” congregated over 80 people on-site and over 70 more online. The session was opened by Tibor Czigány, Rector of BME, who highlighted the importance of the joint efforts and transformations that EELISA brings to the Hungarian institution on the 240 anniversary of its foundation. “EELISA is proof that joint work can be truly effective to translate a unique vision into reality. In this EELISA reality, complex training and innovative education portfolios merge with the commitment to contribute to the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030” he said.
In order to give some context, Claudio Feijoo, delegate for entrepreneurship at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and coordinator of EELISA Unfolds, took the floor. He talked about concepts such as technology and innovation diplomacy and how they are taking a central stage in Europe “as a way to preserve the values and the integrity of our societal model”. He also explained the key role of European universities in this process. You can listen to Claudio Feijoo in this video interview
After this introduction, EELISA Executive director Sofia Costa D’Aguiar opened the “EELISA Achievements Roundtable”. She shared some insights into the specific contribution of EELISA to the transformation of European Higher Education and introduced one of the main tools set by the alliance to achieve its goals: the EELISA Communities. In her words “EELISA Communities is EELISA´s first collective achievement. They cover relevant topics that go from civic values to public health, artificial intelligence or tech diplomacy”. Check Sofia´s interview here.
Related to this, EELISA Executive Board member from Scuola Normale Superiore, Fabio Beltram talked about the innovative approaches that characterize EELISA Communities. He explained how one of the main goals of these communities is to teach students “how to tackle difficult problems in an organic way by using other people’s experience”. Watch Fabio’s interview here
Closing this roundtable, EELISA President Dale A. Martin shared how EELISA is becoming more tangible for students as the alliance has reached an important milestone – the issuance of the first one thousand EELISA Credentials. “During the last academic year, over 1.200 students have participated in activities organized by our 34 pilot Communities. They are the pioneers paving the way for many others to come”. And as a symbolic act, Mr. Martin handed the EELISA credentials to three students who were in attendance at the event. Meet some of the students here
This was a pivotal moment that was complemented with a video in which some EELISA Communities coordinators presented their Communities and how they are developing their activities to create a real impact on society. Watch this video here.
The second roundtable of the session focused on “EELISA’s Next Steps”. In this panel EELISA Coordinator Alberto Garrido, Kathrin Moeslein (EELISA Governing Board member from FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg), and EELISA Project Manager for FAU Eike Trost, explained the goals and challenges that lay ahead for the Alliance.
“In the first 2 years of EELISA, teams from all partner universities have worked hard to establish the foundations of a solid alliance. Now we are getting ready for the next period, which is not an easy task, but the value placed by the European Community on this initiative allows us to look forward with confidence” said Alberto Garrido.
Prof. Möslein, as an expert on the topic, explained how EELISA Communities are becoming a model for innovative management and international cooperation. “We are very proud of the EELISA Communities because they are allowing us to bridge across international and disciplinary boundaries,” she said. In addition, Eike Trost talked about the First Joint Call for the EELISA Community and why this initiative is a big achievement for the alliance. She also encouraged EELISA members to take a look at the EELISA Community Platform and join some of the activities offered by EELISA Communities.
After this panel, the second keynote speaker Andras Pataricza (Professor at BME) offered some insights on how to build and maintain a fruitful international network to boost innovation and explained that student mobility is one of the core elements of interuniversity cooperation programs such as Erasmus+.
The session was wrapped up with a special presentation by EELISA student. Bendeguz Papp, a key member of the EELISA Student Council. In his words: “EELISA is focused on students, on their personal and professional growth. It is a very strong network and a game changer for European higher education and we must let students know.”
As the day-to-day work continues, undoubtedly, this event has served to make a global review of all the steps that the alliance has taken so far. A moment of celebration that helps us be aware of all those achievements attached to joint efforts and deep collaboration behind the EELISA Journey.