How can we support each other during and after the Covid-19 pandemic? This question was highlighted at the second EC2U Forum hosted online by the University of Turku in Finland. Co-operation and learning from others was seen as a clear way to survive and progress.

 

The second EC2U Forum gathered together more than 400 participants and speakers to the virtual event. The participants came not only from all the EC2U Universities but also from the cities, stakeholders and other universities.

The three-day event focused on social sustainability, co-operation between universities and cities, micro-credentials, and student engagement.

– We heard examples of different ways to support students and staff during the pandemic when certainly everyone has experienced some sort of melancholy or loneliness. Peer support is needed also after the pandemic. There were interesting discussions on how life will change when we go back to normal – which won’t be the old normal – and what we have learned from these exceptional times, said Rector Jukka Kola from the University of Turku at the Closing of the Forum.
 
– The EC2U Alliance is on a collective ambitious journey that started officially six months ago, but in reality already two years ago. There are already hundreds of people working for the joint aim of the EC2U, and we are still at the beginning of the journey, said Coordinator of the EC2U, Professor Ludovic Thilly.

Place to Share Good Practices

Rector Jukka Kola reminded that the EC2U Alliance builds up on the concept of the University in the city as promoted by the Pavia protocol and the Poitiers declaration.

– The most innovative outcome of the EC2U project will be the creation of the EC2U Forum. It allows wide interaction within and among the seven universities with their seven cities and local and regional stakeholders, said Kola.

He continued that the EC2U Forum plays a special role in exchanging and sharing good practices through the active dissemination of previous results and outcomes.

– Excellent evidence of this were the examples we heard about the co-operation between cities and universities. This is something we all have in common and it brings us closer together as partners, said Kola.

Next Forum Organised in Salamanca

Ludovic Thilly pointed out that the initial plan was to meet in Turku, in person, shaking hands and drinking coffee in the same room.

– Covid-19 changed everything. We were forced to meet online.

Rector Kola noted that since the Forum in Turku was completely virtual, the organisers searched for innovative ways to bring people together and give the audience opportunities to interact with each other. Atmospheric images of Turku were offered with videos and a virtual tour.

Everyone shared the wish that the third EC2U Forum could be organised at the actual place, in Salamanca. Professor Raúl Sánchez Prieto invited, on behalf of the Rector and the whole community of the University of Salamanca, everyone to the next Forum on the last week of October 2021.

Science Battle between Pavia, Poitiers and Turku

However, before the Forum in Salamanca, there will be at least one joint event.

– Before we meet in Salamanca, we will have the first EC2U Science Battle on 24 September. The first Science Battle was held in Turku four years ago. It started with the idea of making research and scientists approachable to the public. It could also give someone an idea of becoming a researcher someday, says Björn.

Science battle is a playful competition in which a group of researchers from different fields sets out to solve questions submitted by the audience. At the closing ceremony of the Forum, a raffle was held to solve which universities will compete in the Science Battle next autumn. The lucky ones were the Universities of Pavia, Poitiers and Turku. The competition will be arranged during the European Researchers’ Night on 24 September. Next year, the competitors will be the Universities of Coimbra, Iasi, Jena and Salamanca. On the third year, the Science Battle will be organised between the winners of the years 2021 and 2022.

The artist Blanche Elllis drew the Forum programme into pictures.

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