Last Wednesday 24 of March, and on the occasion of the Open Call for pioneers ready to participate in the co-creation of the EELISA Communities, the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid organized a special workshop for teachers, researchers and staff members with an interest in getting involved in the process. A session that aimed to give attendees the opportunity not only to learn more about EELISA and its framework, but also to connect and take an active role in the building steps that are shaping the pioneer EELISA Communities.
Over two hundred people from a wide spectrum of disciplines -Architecture, Agronomists, Health or Environmental Sciences…-, and roles -from teachers and administrative officers to Dean of Studies and Vice-chancellors-, joined the 3-hour event conducted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Communication, Marta Olea.
¨What are the challenges we face today? Frameworks such as the SDGs can give us an answer¨
The session started with an inspirational introduction by three keynote speakers. Alberto Garrido, UPM´s Vice-Chancellor for Quality and Efficiency, presented the results of a recent survey to companies, students and teachers and showed their demands for more projects, less exams, better multidisciplinary approaches and internationalization as well as a greater relationship between students and the companies that may recruit them in the near future. ¨To this extent, EELISA is a great opportunity for the entire community because it will activate a global transformation through all these elements¨, Alberto said.
Julio Lumbreras, UPM´s Vice-Chancellor for Academic Strategy and Internationalization, highlighted the active role that Universities around the world are taking today to help societies solve their challenges. ¨But what are the challenges we face today? Frameworks such as the SDGs can give us an answer¨. He also presented EELISA and its Communities as powerful tools to contribute to the fulfillment of the SDGs.
Closing this inspirational part, EELISA Executive Director, Sofía D´Aguiar, explained the European Universities Initiative in which EELISA is embedded. ¨They are the universities of the future. Those in which you can teach, learn, investigate and cooperate – where students, professors, researchers, companies and civil society work together to face today´s greatest challenges¨. She also invited attendees to become part of the engine that will move EELISA forward to a clear goal for the next five years: to enroll the 180.000 students of the alliance in a credential that will link academic excellence and social impact.
¨The continuous learning process on how to address global problems from the specificity of a territory¨
During the second part of the session, expert Fernando Argüello talked about potential resources and funding opportunities, with a special focus on the so-called Next Generation Funds of the European Commission´s Recovery plan for Europe.
EELISA R&I Coordinador, Ignacio Tejada, gave insight into EELISA´s Innovation and Research Strategy (InnoCore) and its connection to the EELISA Communities: ¨This will be the breeding ground for an unprecedented collaboration network that will allow us to develop joint research projects, share scientific resources and amplify dissemination and impact¨, Ignacio said.
Marcos Garcia, Director of Media-Lab Prado of Madrid and driving force of the ¨Citizens Labs¨, explained the keys of these innovative collaboration platforms and shared the experience ¨of a continuous learning process on how to address global problems from the specificity of a territory and how to facilitate the connection between them¨.
¨A mission, a portfolio of interconnected activities, a multi-stakeholder network and an evaluation system¨
After these introductory and inspirational keynote speeches, Mª Luisa Martínez Muneta, UPM´s Deputy Vice chancellor for Education and Innovation explained all the details of the Open Call for pioneers. She also pointed out that these first communities won´t be alone: ¨They will receive support from UPM Rector´s office, the EELISA Office and the rest of the alliance partners¨.
UPM´s Academic Coordinator for EELISA, María Huerta, summarized the key elements of the EELISA Communities: a mission, a portfolio of interconnected activities, a multi-stakeholders network and an evaluation system. ¨There are many resources and structures within UPM that can be leveraged, and many other things yet to be created. This is an exciting challenge and we want you to be part of it¨, she added.
With these words, she launched the interactive part of the session where attendees split into seven different rooms labeled under topics such as: Open Data, Water and Natural Resources, Health/City and Technologies, Circular Economy, Social Entrepreneurship, Mobility and Urban Decarbonization. With a clear intention to learn, listen to each other and connect, all groups started to share their work, fields of interest and expectations in an interactive board. Sticky notes where flying from one side to the other while facilitators where prompting questions and conversations. A dynamic moment that settles as the starting point of an exciting process that will continue its path within the next few weeks.
Final results of UPM´s Open call for EELISA Pioneer Communities will be presented to the public during the first week of May. ¨This won´t be the end of the road though. This will be just the beginning of everything!”, Maria Huerta explains.