On 17th February 2020, The Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) launched the first of the eight CIVIS Open Labs to be developed as part of the creation process of the CIVIS initiative. Municipalities, the Madrid community government, students, innovation centres, companies and other public and private entities participated in this initiative.
The CIVIS Open Labs will be developed in the form of project thinking and co-creation spaces in which representatives of the civil society as well the university will seek together solutions to respond to major challenges of their local communities. The projects successfully developed in any of these laboratories may be transferred to other CIVIS regions with similar challenges, working through the CIVIS network.
Entities participating in this first CIVIS Open Lab are, among others, the municipalities of Tres Cantos, San Sebastián de Los Reyes, Alcobendas and Soto del Real, the Sierra de Guadarrama Development Association (Adesgam), the local Council for Science, Universities and Innovation, representatives of the students’ committee and the Erasmus student network at UAM, as well as the UAM-CSIC Campus of Excellence, the Madrid Science Park, UAM’s Foundation (FUAM), Onda Cero radio station and other leading public and private institutions from the North of Madrid (educational centres, SMEs, innovation centres, etc.).
During his speech, Rector of UAM, Rafael Garesse stressed on the fact that "The university’s model has worked well in Spain during the past 25 or 30 years, but it must evolve. It is no longer about the University only transferring knowledge to society. It is about the university and other representatives of civil society working together to generate the knowledge necessary to improve our environment.”
CIVIS Open Lab arises within this philosophy, aiming to be a space to promote pilot projects with a multidisciplinary approach, aligned with the CIVIS’ challenges (Climate, Environment and Energy; Health; Cities, Territory and Mobility; Digital and Technological Transformations; Society, Culture and Heritage) and in tune with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During the presentation, José Luis Pau and Javier Baena, UAM’s CIVIS Local Engagement Leader and Madrid Open Lab Coordinator respectively, explained how “Open Labs shall encourage the involvement of a wide diversity of interest groups that lead to concrete actions in which citizens participate and have a positive social impact at the local level.
Carmela Calés, Vice-Rector for Internationalisation at UAM and CIVIS Project Coordinator, reminded the participants about the CIVIS European University being the alliance of eight major European universities, “all of them among the top five of their respective countries”. Ms.Calés also highlighted the Civic term (a concept already coined by the expert from the University of Newcastle, John Goddard), “being CIVIS Lastname”, to later ask about, “what is a Civic University of the 21st century?. “ A University that wants to understand its surroundings wants to know its wishes and needs, to incorporate local stakeholders into its structure and to share with them, future strategic plans ”, she stated
In short, a university that talks, thinks and builds actions hand in hand with all types of agents, academics, researchers, f public institutions representatives, private corporations and citizens, to generate, all together, a positive and transforming impact on the territory.
Footage: Participants in the Presentation of the first CIVIS Open Lab/UAM CIVIS Open Lab