A truly European event with a sporting twist - looking back at the Global CIVIS Days 2022 in Athens
Professor Dimitrios Karadimas, Vice Rector of Academic and Student Affairs & Scientific Director of CIVIS at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), shares the details of this successful event in his review.
From 17 to 20 May 2022, the main annual event of CIVIS, known as the Global CIVIS Days (GCD), took place in Athens. The GCD 2022 was a 4-day event which gathered students, academics (professors and researchers), university staff (administrative staff, technical etc.), stakeholders and representatives of local authorities and communities from all over Europe.
The ultimate goal is to bring all participants together, to discuss, exchange thoughts, good practices and experiences and to further promote cooperation between our institutions. This leads to the creation of a strong European University capable of representing European Higher Education in the international arena, which can successfully address the demands of international competition, upgrade the education of its students and find innovative solutions to the diverse, social challenges of the 21st century.
For the past 2 years, the GCD was held in Stockholm online and in Brussels with limited participation due to pandemic restrictions. This year, however, the physical presence of the participants exceeded all expectations and finally, the usual 3-day event turned into a 4-day event due to a large number of registrations for both the internal meetings and also other activities.
During these 4 days, more than 33 hours of meetings of various working groups took place, as well as meetings of a purely scientific character. The working groups are driving the work of the Alliance and preparing for the upcoming period. The issues discussed were of course related to the Alliance's educational policy and its relationship with other alliances or stakeholders, but they were also focused on economic, organisational and administrative-managerial issues. Furthermore, there were sessions on scientific topics which were open to the wider public and focused on issues related to the interdisciplinary thematic area of the CIVIS HUB 2 “Society, culture, cultural heritage”, which is coordinated by NKUA. It is also noteworthy to mention that there was online coverage and technical support for all the meetings and open sessions for those who were not able to travel to Athens, as well as for the external audience.
At this year's Global CIVIS Days in Athens, there was also an open activity focused on the power of physical activity to support social inclusion - both within the CIVIS Alliance and across society. NKUA organised a Panathlon contest for students and staff across the CIVIS Alliance on 18 and 19 May 2022. It was a great opportunity for the fellow members of the CIVIS community to meet, be a creative force, share expertise and bring innovative ideas to life. Around 60 participants were selected and gathered in Athens, Greece, at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens for the Panathlon event. Among the participants, there were: students (BA and MA), PhD candidates, Post-docs, academic staff, researchers, and administrative staff.
The Global CIVIS Days in Athens was a complete success, not only because it gathered around 300 participants, representing the 10 CIVIS universities in various fields of work, expertise and at all levels, but also because substantive discussions took place that left participants highly satisfied and enthusiastic! This was a truly European event that ended up in an emphatic way with the physical presence of the Greek Minister of Education Mrs. Niki Kerameus and also via online connection with the Director-General for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture of the European Commission, Mrs. Themis Christophidou at the Board of Rectors meeting in the Athens University History Museum. The central topic of the discussion was the education and the educational policy of the Alliance as well.
Thoughts about CIVIS and its future
CIVIS is a European University, that since its establishment has set up as one of its major goals, the development of joint educational programs for all levels of studies (undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral) and the enhancement of student and academics mobility so that the first ones can freely participate in these educational interdisciplinary and high-quality programs and the latter being able to support them. Until today, various educational activities-courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students have been developed in the framework of the four interdisciplinary modules-Hubs adopted by CIVIS European University (“Climate Change, Environment, Energy”, “Society, Culture, Cultural Heritage”, “Health”, “Cities, Territories, Mobilities”) and a fifth module (“Digital and Technological Transformation”) will be added soon. These courses are joint (with the participation of at least three institutions of the alliance), while summer schools and other similar educational activities (such as short-term mobility programs) are also organized. Additionally, it is important also to refer that agreements have been signed for the co-supervision of doctoral studies-dissertations. Interdisciplinarity, the introduction of innovative pedagogical methods, the exchange of good practices, the development of courses and programs that address existing societal needs and challenges, as well as the creation of a common digital campus and the provision of digital courses, where required, are the new elements that characterize the educational policy of CIVIS and shape its unique educational physiognomy and determine the quality of its educational achievements.
Among the immediate-high priorities for the next period is the completion of the CIVIS Digital Campus, which will enable the integration of all services and administrative procedures that serve the educational process, while simultaneously it will facilitate the adoption of the European Student Card, which is of significant importance both on a symbolic level and on a practical level regarding mobility. At the same time, discussions are underway that CIVIS European University should become an undivided legal entity which will allow its member universities to complement each other’s strengths, make joint strategic decisions and act as a cohesive legal entity, which is expected to give greater flexibility at all levels and processes and particularly as far the development of joint curricula is concerned.
The next step in this area will be the development of joint undergraduate and postgraduate programs leading to joint degrees and diplomas respectively. It is a challenging accomplishment, because of the legal, bureaucratic, organizational, financial, etc. obstacles that must be overcome, but the path will be in this direction. In fact, NKUA will play a leading role in this effort, as we are responsible for the organization of undergraduate and postgraduate programs of CIVIS during its second period of operation (2022-2026).