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ECIU University Forum 2024: Looking back at two days of making an impact – and fostering a community


June 13, 2024

ECIU University Forum 2024: Looking back at two days of making an impact – and fostering a community


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June 6-7th marked the first ECIU University Forum – two days of event-packed workshops, passionate discussions and inspiring sessions set to help over 210 participants from all over ECIU University make an impact, lay the foundation for future collaborations and connect for life. Here’s a closer look at how the one-of-a-kind networking event unfolded.

Over 200 participants – one goal

ECIU University Forum kicked off on June 6th – a symbolic date. It’s the same day the European Parliament elections started; an event posed to shape the future of Europe. Meanwhile, ECIU University hopes to shape the future of education and innovation – and the forum is one of the steps towards that goal.

Set at Kaunas University of Technology (Kaunas, Lithuania), the forum brought together over 210 participants from 14 ECIU University member institutions, and the delegation from Ukraine as special guests. More than 80 teachers, 70 staff members and 60 students arrived for two days of unique workshops, passionate discussions and inspiring presentations – with 38 parallel sessions taking place.

All of them were united by a common goal to connect and make an impact. The forum aimed to provide opportunities, generate ideas, forge connections – and, most importantly, empower the ECIU University community.

‘At ECIU University, we come together to find answers to the most pressing challenges our society faces,’ reminds ECIU University director Sander Lotze. ‘And finding answers is not something we can do by ourselves. It's something we should do together’.

Making a difference together

How do you build a climate network for European universities? What's the best way to ensure accessible education for all? Which learning strategies are key to promoting students' engagement and deep learning?

With Education for a Resilient and Sustainable Society chosen as this year’s topic, the Forum asked many questions – and offered more than one way to find an answer. As participants travelled between three venues and diverse sessions, they used this opportunity to exchange ideas and seek new solutions. Many hope this will also open a door for future collaborations.

In between the sessions, participants took time to connect and share their ECIU University stories. All different, they nevertheless had something in common – ECIU University has challenged their mindsets and opened new horizons.

'For me, ECIU University is a huge opportunity,’ shares Marcos Lascurain, a Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona student and one of the student ambassadors for ECIU University. ‘It’s a chance to connect with people, to grow both academically and personally and obtain skills I never thought I would obtain during my university years’.

‘Here, you meet and interact with people from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. You learn how to cooperate, respect each other and find common ground for a common purpose. That’s one of the most important things ECIU University has taught me.’

And the forum offered even more ways to collaborate and learn. During the ECIU Green Mobility Guide session, the participants discussed the best way to integrate sustainability into student mobility. In the meantime, participants of the Student Ambassadors session split into teams to channel creative approaches to developing the city of the future.

It may be about shaping the world of tomorrow – but the change begins today.

Spotlight on the impact

While some great things are to be achieved, other milestones are already being celebrated – thanks to the first-ever Team Impact Award.

Just as the name suggests, it’s all about the impact – the impact an ECIU University challenge had on its participants as well as the impact they were able to make with it. And with some truly incredible stories told, selecting just one felt like a challenge of its own.

The winner emerged as a collaborative effort between three ECIU University member institutions – Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania), University of Aveiro (Portugal) and Hamburg University of Technology (Germany). Together, they took on a unique challenge – seeking solutions for lifestyle choices that can positively affect reproductive health.

'ECIU University is really important to all of us right now,’ says Margarida Fardilha, an associate professor at the Department of Medical Sciences at the University of Aveiro and one of the teamchers who oversaw the challenge. ‘Thanks to it, we all – both the teamchers and the students – met each other and were able to forge connections for life’.

The power of the community

At the end of the day, ECIU University Forum is fueled by its participants' wish for change. And that joint desire helps forge new connections too.

'The Forum really shows the importance of the community and having these face-to-face moments that bring everyone together,’ says Ryan Wakamiya, the learner engagement coordinator at ECIU University and one of the main organisers of the forum. ‘These moments remind us of what we work so hard for – and help people feel the true spirit of ECIU University. This time we spend together is invaluable.'
‘It's also what the forum is all about – inspiring people, creating new connections and strengthening the existing ones.’

The forum has also been a huge inspiration to students from across ECIU University, he notes – a powerful reminder that they are part of change.

‘I have already had students come up to me and ask about becoming ambassadors at ECIU University – and it’s just so thrilling to see people excited and eager to join in.’

Although these 48 hours may feel event-packed, this is just the beginning. With the next forum already in the works, even more opportunities await the participants – and the relationships forged during this year’s edition are bound to flourish.

A huge thank you goes to the hosts of ECIU University Forum 2024 – colleagues at Kaunas University of Technology. We can't wait for the community to meet again next year – and keep making an impact together.

Photo credits: Justina Šuminaitė (KTU), Jonas Klėmanas (KTU), Viktorija Lankauskaitė (KTU), Andrius Staniulis.

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ECIU is the leading international consortium of research intensive universities, with collective emphasis on innovation, creativity and societal impact, driving the development of a knowledge-based economy.