In the Assembly, the annual report of activities of the Association was presented in which Columbus' participation in the following scenarios was highlighted:
a) Columbus is championing the Open Science movement in Latin America, through the participation in global meetings on the subject and the publication of articles and a policy brief to promote the discussion and actions towards an implementation of an open science policy;
b) a wide positioning in the awarding of Erasmus + projects: in 7 years Columbus and its members have awarded 7 projects, for around 7 million euros. In the last call, Columbus reached a 75% success rate, well above the average rate of 20%, with 3 projects awarded (Change the Climate, I2Latam and Climate Labs).
c) pioneering in Collaborative Online International Learning projects for student and teacher mobility with the Columbus Hub Academy;
d) promoting collaboration between universities and cities with a global alliance with UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) and supported by UNESCO, to advance in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals;
e) becoming the official representative in Latin America of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, which annually organizes the meeting of young researchers with Nobel Prizes in Germany.
During the Assembly, several university representatives spoke about the benefits that Columbus has brought to their universities. Among them, Alejandra González of the Universidad de La Sabana and participant of the internships at Moverim said: “preparation was crucial to learn a new way of working between the internal units of international relations and research, with researchers, following a strategy of grouping by areas of great challenges such as those framed by the European Commission in its different work programs. The logic of filtering and identifying calls by academic disciplines / faculties does not work.” She also pointed out that this experience at Moverim was crucial to refine the Erasmus+ proposal that received funding from the European Commission in the last period (I2Latam project) and to guide concrete initiatives for the participation of researchers from Universidad de La Sabana in Horizon 2020.
In another intervention, Genoveva Amador, from Universidad de Colima, explained the benefits of having pioneered the Hub Academy to boost the internationalization of the curriculum and the internationalization at home in her university. She explained that being part of the Hub Academy meant that they could move forward very quickly in completing projects, which is not found in other offers such as those offered by COIL-SUNY. In addition, being able to invite partners outside the network has been an advantage, because they can take advantage of the existing networks. Another result has been the establishment of collaborations at other levels, for example, with the University of Aveiro. As a result of the first project, the University has encouraged leading professors to share and disseminate with others to motivate more teachers to participate.
Two BUAP students were invited to share their experience with the Nobel prizes in Physics with the attendees; Fernando Arteaga Cardona and Silvia Cortés López, from the Institute of Physics. They highlighted in their interventions: the possibility of sharing with the Nobel Prizes very closely, the effort involved in participating in the meeting against any forecast, the strengthening of their research areas with visions of researchers from around the world, the possibility of representing Latin America at the meeting. Finally, Elsa Fueyo, Director of Educational Innovation, highlighted the importance that this call has been taking year after year at BUAP, the impact it generates on students, and the interest of the university to continue participating in the next editions.
Vasco Rato of ISCTE (Portugal) commented, in the framework of the Columbus Partners section, how the collaboration with Columbus began, involving the University of Gothenburg to establish the University's environmental management system. ISCTE learned a lot from this experience, and he states that the experience of Columbus and Gotheburg U allowed them to move forward on concrete results and obtain the environmental certification; for example, the fact of being a small university, having a great team, a good follow-up method, among others. This consultancy is at the center of the recently awarded Erasmus + Change the Climate project, in which a large number of member universities participate.
The assembly closed with an open discussion among members about the challenges and priorities of the network for the period 2020-2021 in which topics such as the attraction of new members, especially European universities, the search for external financing and the strengthening of topics such as University management (sustainability of universities), academic innovation (soft skills, pedagogical change) and synergy between science / technology / public policy to face problems such as the environment (compliance with the SDGs).
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