Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich and four other European universities are collaborating on medical topics, while at the same time promoting equal opportunities and inclusion.
Five universities, one campus: the network project is pursuing an ambitious plan. “Our vision is to train future generations of European experts in the area of global health”, declares Philipp Beck. He coordinates EUGLOH at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich. In an alliance with the universities of Paris-Saclay (France), Lund (Sweden), Porto (Portugal) and Szeged (Hungary), the researchers are cooperating closely across disciplinary boundaries. Their joint objective is to establish a European campus with a whole host of common structures.
The project is based on a holistic understanding of global health in which health and wellbeing are no longer viewed only in the conventional medical sense. The network partners are focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration that also takes environmental and social sciences into account. And they are doing so within a European alliance. “In a global world, societal challenges cannot be resolved in national silos”, stresses project manager Beck. “What is needed instead are transnational efforts.”
Each university contributes its own expertise
Being one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), good health and wellbeing for all is one of the most urgent priorities of the United Nations. Promoting this is a humanitarian imperative and an integral part of responsible governance. The EUGLOH international partnership is working towards this goal and believes that high-quality education is the way to achieve it. Each of the five universities from European Union countries has its own particular expertise to contribute. The Hungarian partners, for example, are strong in the field of laser technology, the LMU’s Center for International Health (CIH) is a centre of excellence in development cooperation, while the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Porto takes an innovative approach to combining veterinary and human medicine. While Paris-Saclay University profits particularly from the NeuroSpin neuroscientific centre, the world’s largest neutron source is being constructed in Lund.
The network is keen to take advantage of these different resources, create synergies and offer future students the chance to study at different universities. As one of 41 European University Alliances, EUGLOH is being funded by the EU during a three-year project phase. From 2021, the initiative will be expanded within the framework of the new Erasmus programme. EUGLOH has seen intensive and regular exchange, with around 900 people already attending the first courses and meetings. Currently, an inter-university module on the subject of global health is being developed, and joint degree courses are also planned in the medium term. In following this approach, EUGLOH hopes to establish itself as the leading alliance in the field of global health, thereby not only strengthening Europe as a centre for higher education and research, but also promoting European values such as solidarity, equal opportunities and inclusion. The alliance is committed to providing fair access to health and welfare for all. Furthermore, it is involved in the joint battle against the corona pandemic – not only through research, but for example by taking part in the #WirVsVirus hackathon.
Successful switch to the digital sphere
Initially, the plans for mobility within the network were hit hard by the corona pandemic. When the switch was made to digital teaching methods, however, the synergetic effects of the cooperation between the five universities quickly came to light. Events were swiftly moved into the digital sphere and teachers stepped up their exchange, organising two summer schools – alongside the normal courses – that were attended by 500 students. “Joint project work rapidly picked up pace”, says Project Manager Beck. Digital offerings are admittedly no substitute for face-to-face courses: “However, it is impressive to see how virtual summer schools and the #EUvsVirus hackathon led to alliances being formed that proved mutually beneficial.”
The consortium also submitted a successful application in response to a European Commission call. Now the network can expand its educational and mobility character to include a research dimension. Under the name EUGLOHRIA (“The European Alliance for Global Health – Transformation through Joint Research and Innovation Action”), the alliance will in the future actively identify opportunities for collaboration in the area of research and innovation and initiate cooperative ventures. For example, the Covid-19 research activities of the partner universities are to be coordinated and inter-university “Business Academia Networks” created. The goal is to allow everyone involved to take advantage of the innovative infrastructures of the participating universities and to seek cooperation with companies to an even greater extent.