On September 1st, UNIC will launch a joint research program on engaged research to involve and engage citizens, civil society and public/private authorities in research and innovation.
With the Horizon2020-sponsored program UNIC4ER, UNIC 4 Engaged Research, the alliance will develop a joint strategy, structure, platform and excellence on engaged research as a strategy for enhancing inclusion, impact and mobility within and in between the 8 partner universities. This will strengthen the alliance and add an important research dimension to the existing collaboration.
In UNIC4ER, the alliance will work together to develop and promote various interdisciplinary approaches and methods for engaged research, or systematic knowledge production not only for society but also with and within society. This includes, for instance, community-based research, participatory research, citizen science and a broad variety of methods of co-design and co-creation, applied across various disciplines. The alliance will combine rigour and relevance in the development of engaged research. In the context of the broader ambition of UNIC, engaged research provides an instrument for the democratization of research and knowledge production. Involving and engaging society in research will enhance inclusion. In addition, engaged research is a well-proven strategy for promoting the impact of research.
The partner universities will not only develop a joint strategy and issue a joint declaration on engaged research, but will also develop a new UNIC Academy that will enhance the collaboration between the universities and their cities as well as between all 8 post-industrial cities involved in UNIC. This academy will provide a truly European infrastructure for promoting engaged research around various aspects of post-industrial transitions, including health, governance, inequalities, technologies, environmental issues and much more. Furthermore, a UNIC Open Science Campus will be developed which will provide a platform for accessing research as well as sharing experiences in engaged research. Through these activities, UNIC will develop a community of excellence within, as well as beyond the UNIC alliance, by hosting trainings and workshops on how to connect engaged research and teaching.
The UNIC4ER program will contribute further to the ambitions of the partner universities to ever closer collaboration in the context of the European Higher Education Area. With the establishment of UNIC in 2020, a broad range of activities have been initiated on educational mobility and innovation and on inclusion and impact. UNIC4ER will bring a further research dimension to the UNIC Virtual Campus, the UNIC CityLabs and the UNIC Superdiversity Academy.
With UNIC4ER, the alliance does not only seek to strengthen the collaboration between the universities, but also between each university and its city, and amongst all eight cities. It also seeks to reach out and work together with other European Universities. UNIC will lead a working group on citizen engagement to allow the European universities to benefit from sharing knowledge and experiences, and jointly contribute to a future of European universities with a focus on inclusion and impact.
UNIC4ER will start on September 1st 2021, and will be developed over a period of 3 years as a structural feature of the UNIC alliance for the years to come. More information on UNIC4ER will be announced via the UNIC website at www.unic.eu.
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