The University of Silesia in Katowice, together with six universities from abroad, forms a prestigious European University as part of Transform4Europe alliance.
„Transform4Europe – T4E: The European University for Knowledge Entrepreneurs” project is a challenge that we have undertaken together with the employees, doctoral students and students of the following universities: Saarland University (consortium leader), University of Alicante, Estonian Academy of Arts, St. Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, University of Trieste and Vytautas Magnus University.
Under Tranform4Europe, we will create, together with our partners, one big European campus located in Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Spain, Germany, Lithuania and Italy.
Intensive academic exchange, possibility to use common infrastructure, international study programmes, interdisciplinary scientific research and even stronger cooperation with the region are examples of the duties that we will consistently implement in the upcoming years.
The idea that connects all seven universities is the belief that thanks to active approach, each of us may have impact on the future of our environment by providing responses to civilisation challenges based on the state-of-the-art knowledge. These challenges particularly include climate change, digital revolutions, migration flows, society ageing and community crisis, as well as the current situation related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Małgorzata Myśliwiec, PhD, DLitt, Associate Professor, Head of „Transform4Europe – T4E: The European University for Knowledge Entrepreneurs” project, tells us how great opportunity and… adventure Tranform4Europe initiative is for us.
Małgorzata Myśliwiec, PhD, DLitt, Associate Professor, Dean’s Plenipotentiary for International Cooperation at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Silesia in Katowice, head of „Transform4Europe – T4E: The European University for Knowledge Entrepreneurs” project | Julia Agnieszka Szymala
Dr Małgorzata Kłoskowicz: Lively discussions, meetings lasting even up to several hours, short and frequent trips to different cities in Europe – this is how the teams representing seven universities prepared to participate in the 2nd edition of the European Commission call for proposals, under which prestigious European universities are selected. And you have succeeded. The University of Silesia in Katowice has become part of „Transform4Europe – T4E: The European University for Knowledge Entrepreneurs” consortium. Over the next few years, together with six other universities, we will be developing mainly educational solutions, thanks to which our students, doctoral students, employees and graduates are going to have a real impact on what the future of the region, Poland, Europe and the world will look like.
Małgorzata Myśliwiec, PhD, DLitt, Associate Professor: We were motivated to fight for this privilege. In the first edition of the call for proposals, universities with centuries-old tradition and well-established position in the international arena were strengthened. Our aim was to join this group. We know our strengths. Although all universities in our consortium were founded in the 20th century, I think that we can also boast of our strong traditions and valuable resources. Apart from that, we also got to like one another, and the cooperation between us was fine. In July we celebrated our success. Our application was very highly evaluated, which was an additional source of great joy for us.
M.K.: In the meantime, the whole world began to suffer from coronavirus, which means that we will build the great European campus, develop education, combine research and increase the mobility of students, doctoral students and employees… online. An intriguing prospect.
M.M.: I think that our cooperation would be completely different if we hadn’t had the opportunity to meet face-to-face when the preparations had begun. I’m particularly happy that we managed to meet before the pandemic started. I obviously regret that we are currently unable to visit one another. Fortunately, we have been getting used to home office tools for several months, which helps me better imagine the implementation of each intended goal online. However, as probably all of us, I’m waiting for the world after the pandemic, which will allow us to set off again, visit our partners, invite them to come to Poland, offer mobilities to students, doctoral students and employees of our University, open our laboratories, libraries and… minds.
M.K.: For eighteen years I have been associated with the University of Silesia, the biggest university in the region, located in four cities – Katowice, Cieszyn, Chorzów and Sosnowiec. I think it’s easy for me to imagine such an alliance. Within the framework of Tranform4Europe we will create one big European campus with the centres in Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Spain, Germany, Lithuania, and Italy. Who are our partners?
M.M.: We have a lot in common. All our universities were founded in the 20th century. The oldest one is St. Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, established in 1904, and University of Alicante, founded precisely 41 years ago, is the youngest one. We should become familiar with these beautifully sounding names. The other members of our Tranform4Europe consortium include Saarland University (consortium leader), Estonian Academy of Arts, Vytautas Magnus University and University of Trieste.
Four different parts of Europe and, at the same time, very strong scientific centres in their regions, which may have a real impact on the shape of their environment.
M.K.: It is worth adding that each of the universities will have specific goals to implement as part of the project. Which ones is the University of Silesia responsible for?
M.M.: There are eight major tasks: (1) project coordination; (2) joint strategy and management; (3) challenge-based European Education Area; (4) innovative education and educational environment; (5) formation of smart ecosystems; (6) mobility for all; (7) multilingual campus and (8) communication strategy. We are the leader of task no. 7, and we are co-responsible for the implementation of task no. 3, i.e. challenge-based education. Although all goals seem to be one great challenge, I prefer to think about them as an adventure.
Unfortunately we, Europeans, are beginning to close ourselves in tight bubbles of nationalism. Without being open to otherness we will not discover anything either in science or in life. This is the charm of going beyond what is well-known. What is the European identity like? Multilingual. After Brexit, this world does not have to communicate only in English. Europeans cannot limit themselves to their own language either. The key to success will be an increase of the mobility of our students, doctoral students and employees, as well as the associated foreign language learning.
M.K.: German, Spanish, Italian? With pleasure.
M.M.: I knew that these particular languages would be mentioned (laughs). I like to think about Tranform4Europe as a project that works slightly against the stereotypes. How about Estonian, Bulgarian or… Polish? We have the fantastic School of Polish Language and Culture, which is great in teaching our beautiful language to foreigners and has the right to award certificates. We talk about it aloud.
Moreover, there are many research subjects, for example in the field of political science, which is close to me, that enable to conduct comparative research in different countries, not only in the Western Europe. This cannot be done without the knowledge of a language, and the alliance will open up many such possibilities for our community.
M.K.: What else may change thanks to international cooperation within the framework of Tranform4Europe?
M.M.: We will talk about open access to laboratories and other resources of our partner universities. Many procedures will be simplified, there will also be funds for mobilities, trainings, meetings, we will establish task-oriented teams, student council and international offices specialised in mobility, communication, support for doctoral students and entrepreneurs.
We will try to work on joint, interdisciplinary study programmes. We would like to introduce a single Tranform4Europe European University student ID and doctoral student ID. We are planning to organise festivals, meetings and lectures. Our goal is also to make it easier for scientists to establish cooperation with researchers from all partner universities. All of this is intended to transform consciously Europe in the future.
M.K.: There is a reason why the project’s name is Transform4Europe. The so-called knowledge entrepreneurs are to perform a significant role – this is the term which probably comes up most frequently in the project assumptions and mission. It would be great if entrepreneurship was combined with knowledge, but it’s a difficult friendship.
M.M.: We are European universities. Let’s take up scientific subjects that are important from the perspective of civilisation challenges. Let’s design new education paths. Let’s refresh the method of conducting research and let some fresh air in. Let this knowledge actually be useful for our environment. I wish that our students, doctoral students, employees and graduates not only wanted to have impact on their region, country, and even the whole world, but also that they could shape it. Responsible education is a cure for many today’s challenges. We can educate young, motivated and well-qualified Europeans…
M.K.: …who have to know the English language in particular to communicate.
M.M.: No, we are not afraid to speak English. Everyone of us has the language barrier before a conversation, before a meeting. I’m addressing here each person associated with our University, inviting them to actively participate in the project – let’s try to communicate. Our language barrier should not close the door to a great adventure. We have a perfect opportunity to get to know fantastic people from different regions of Europe. We will also definitely find a way to get used to this task. We will invite to cooperate the leaders who will help us communicate. We will also talk about meetings, at this point online, pleasant small talks with coffee. Paradoxically, it is the small steps that will allow us to build a strong European university which educates young people based on interdisciplinary study programmes and conducts scientific research at the highest level in a joint campus – to take care of the future of the region, country and the whole Europe.
M.K.: Thank you for the interview.
- Future of European universities | Meetings of rectors with representatives of European Commission (November 2020),
- University of Silesia wins the European Universities Initiative (July 2020),
- Assoc. Prof. Małgorzata Myśliwiec, Professor of the University of Silesia about the significance of European Universities network (March 2020).