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European university UNIC signs joint declaration for 'engaged research

In Education Research

The authorities of the eight universities that make up the UNIC consortium - the European University of Post-Industrial Cities, of which the University of Liège is a member - have just signed a joint declaration to develop a scientific approach to engage citizens, communities and their cities in promoting research and innovation. This declaration is part of the UNIC4ER (UNIC for Engaged Research) project funded by the European Commission.


n 15 June 2022, eight universities and cities, which are part of the European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC), committed themselves to develop a common approach to engaging communities and their cities in promoting research and innovation that can have an impact on the lives of citizens. This declaration, a first in Europe, advocates "engaged research", an approach that involves local people and communities, NGOs and municipalities working together with universities to collectively decide what to research and involve societal partners at all stages of the research process. This approach shows the way forward in bringing Europeans together across languages and borders to actively participate in building thriving, compassionate and enlightened societies and sustainable economies, based on research.

"The meaningful involvement of citizens in research and innovation is key to the long-term success of our cities and universities. Today, for the first time in Europe, this declaration on engaged research marks a pioneering step towards realising the ambitions of the European Education Area and the European Research Area of the European Commission," said Professor Ed Brinksma, Rector of Rotterdam University. 

Students and staff from the university, municipalities and civil society partners participated in a research strategy forum in January and again in March 2022 at University College Cork, Ireland. There they worked together on the text of the declaration, making this a truly collaborative initiative. The next step is to put in place a strategy for engaged research at the project's partner universities in the coming months. 

"This declaration is an important step for cities and universities in Europe. It is the first time that we as a group have developed such a common commitment to our communities. This historic initiative will have relevance, resonance and impact throughout Europe for many years to come," said the Mayor of Liège, Willy Demeyer.

About UNIC and UNIC4ER

UNIC is one of 41 European University Alliances funded by the European Union. UNIC focuses on education and research through community engagement, with the ambition to create inclusive and sustainable societies. UNIC creates an inter-university campus, where students, staff, researchers and city partners will study or conduct research in partner institutions and municipalities. 

Formed in 2020, UNIC is an alliance of the following partners: Belgium University of Liege, City of Liege; Croatia Sveučilište u Zagrebu, City of Zagreb; Finland University of Oulu; Germany Ruhr- Universität Bochum, City of Bochum; Ireland Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh, City of Cork; Spain Universidad de Deusto, City of Bilbao; Netherlands Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, City of Rotterdam; Türkiye Koç Üniversitesi, City of Istanbul. This is not a legally binding document. The signatories are university rectors and student leaders, city leaders and city partners.

This alliance, which was created on a project related to teaching, has now been joined by a research component with UNIC4ER (UNIC for Engaged Research), which aims to develop a common approach to research in order to build bridges between universities and their cities. A project financed by Horizon2020 funding (European Commission)

Alessandro Mazzola

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