Three intensive days attending the EUTOPIA Innovation Conference on behalf of Universitat Pompeu Fabra on “European Universities and Sustainable Development” held at University of Warwick.
During the first week of July, we, Sara Polo and Laia Hoyos, two students of GNMI, together with a group of students of Global Studies in UPF, Nil Codina, Carlota Garcia and Gabriel Ivins, had the opportunity to attend the EUTOPIA Innovation Conference which took place in the University of Warwick.
The EUTOPIA European University alliance brings ten European universities aiming to become by 2025 an open, multicultural, confederated operation of connected campuses. In June 2019, the «EUTOPIA-2050» program was chosen as one of the initial 17 winning projects of the new European Universities Initiative competitive call launched by the European Commission to build a European Higher Education Area. EUTOPIA grouped then 6 universities: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, CY Cergy Paris University, University of Gothenburg, University of Ljubljana, Pompeu Fabra University-Barcelona, The University of Warwick
The conference brought together people from all over the world in the EUTOPIA European University alliance framework. It was the third part of a series of milestones, including the university subject “Glocal Challenges”, the Open Innovation Challenge, and the Placemaking Hackathon. During three days, we worked on our design thinking skills on project management-based competencies and discussed about how can universities and campuses help address global and local sustainability issues.
Specifically, the Open Innovation Challenges is the embodiment of EUTOPIA’s will to transform universities into actors of societal change, fostering international and regional collaboration with public and private partners. It aims to test a new approach for universities.
How everything started…
The first step was the identification of the challenges that our local partners face. The group took a subject at UPF called “Glocal Challenges”, where they proposed a global solution for a local need: EUTOPIC Campus. The main purpose of the subject was to identify a challenge and look for problems that have a tangible impact on our regions and that have a direct effect on our lives. UPF chose areas linked to the SDGs, and so we selected the eleventh: sustainable cities and communities. The second step was the section of the projects. One team was chosen per institution and sent to the Hackathon. We were that team.
The EUTOPIA Hackathon was organized by the University of Gothenburg in February 2022. The aim was to present the state of advancement of each team’s research. The teams secured a place in the Finals, and only three out of six teams were entitled to continue. Each university’s selected team competed in the Hackathon and three final projects were chosen to go onto the Finals that took place at the University of Warwick in July 2022.
A jury made up of the EUTOPIA Pool of Partners (PoP), international experts and Eutopia staff will decide which project has identified the best challenge and solution, with a view of the winning team being able to develop their project beyond the pilot.
What do we take from this experience?
Bringing different European universities and students together is a great learning method to approach common challenges and create fruitful synergies. We want to thank the University of Warwick for engaging students to think about different ways to cope with global challenges regarding sustainability using the method of Design Thinking, especially Lewis Beer and Anaís Tarragó, for all their support during the process.
We would like to encourage to join this movement to all students that are interested not just in creating projects and meeting very interesting people from very different backgrounds and cultures but also that are interested in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and bringing positive outcomes out of interesting projects.
We look forward to the next event inside the EUTOPIA Alliance to continue spreading the light of ideas worldwide, sharing the spirit of mutual help.
Laia Hoyos, GNMI student
Sara Polo, GNMI student
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