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The EC2U Forum of Seven European Universities Challenged Participants to Consider Social Sustainability

19.05.2021

Hosted by the University of Turku, the virtually organised EC2U Forum on 19–21 May included discussion on social sustainability, cooperation of universities and cities, micro-credentials, and thinking of ways how to recognise students' engagement.

Organised by the European Campus of City-Universities, EC2U Alliance, consisting of seven European universities, this year’s EC2U Forum was hosted by the University of Turku and organised through remote connections. 

The three-day forum includes webinars, panel discussions, and thematic discussions. On the last day of the forum, the participants have an opportunity to participate on a virtual city walk on the banks of river Aura in Turku, Finland.

EC2U promotes interesting and strong collaboration when it comes to European education and city-campus co-operation. The forums, organised every six months, aim to increase awareness of the EC2U Alliance in all of the participating campuses as well as share good practices and give rise to interesting discussions on important topics related to the universities and their partners.

Coronavirus Pandemic Threatens the Social Sustainability of Universities

The forum included a fair amount of discussion on the topical issue of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the health and well-being of the university communities. The keynote speeches and panel discussion of Wednesday focused on the activities of the participating universities in aiming to decrease the negative impact of the pandemic.

Professor Karina Weichold from the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany discussed the consequences of the pandemic for young people’s mental health. 

– Students have had significant challenges with for example isolation and motivation during remote studying but also with their financial situation as they struggle to find work due to the pandemic. Up to fifty percent of the students have reported that the pandemic has a negative impact on their studies, Weichold explains.

The keynote speakers highlighted the importance of universities emphasising social sustainability in their operations. Professor Gabriella Bottini from the University of Pavia in Italy and Associate Professor Daniela Muntele from the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi in Romania presented programmes implemented in their universities to promote well-being of the members of the university communities. The programmes emphasised e.g. holistic support and psychological support given to isolated students.

From the University of Turku, Specialist in social affairs Ville Ritola from the Student Union presented the On My Mind project of the University. The project is based on peer support among students to promote well-being and mental health.

– The students need support from the universities, but we have realised that we can also train students to support each other. Empathy has an important role especially during the pandemic, says Ritola.

The discussions also stressed that the universities should learn something from the pandemic; the good practices and support given to the communities should be continued even after the pandemic is over.

EC2U is an Alliance of seven European universities whose aim is to create a pan-European campus with a new model of quality education. The Alliance led by the the University of Poitiers in France includes the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi in Romania, the University of Coimbra in Portugal, the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena in Germany, the University of Pavia in Italy, the University of Salamanca in Spain, and the University of Turku in Finland.

> The University of Turku in the EC2U Alliance
> More information about the European Campus of City-Universities

Created 19.05.2021 | Updated 24.05.2021