After the European Union gave the go-ahead for the second phase of the European network of universities EURECA-PRO in June 2023, no more than 140 members from the 9 partner universities are gathering at Hasselt University this week. "In this kick-off week, we are laying the foundation on which we will build our network over the next four years to become the contact point within Europe for sustainable production and consumption," says rector Bernard Vanheusden.
EURECA-PRO belongs to the European Commission's European Universities Initiative, which supports European universities in working together around the United Nations' sustainable development goals. Together with eight universities in Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Greece and Romania, Hasselt University works within EURECA-PRO on strategic objective 12: ensuring sustainable consumption and production.
In the first week of February, staff from all the universities involved gather at Hasselt University for a kick-off week. "During the start-up phase of EURECA-PRO, we have spent the past few years in working groups looking at how we want and can shape our network. With renewed support from the European Union, we are now entering the second project phase. Over the next four years, we will fully commit to rolling out our European university network," says Rector Bernard Vanheusden.
Thus, new study programmes and research projects on sustainable consumption and production are being developed. In which Hasselt University is taking the lead in branding this network of universities and developing a joint Tech Transfer Office and the EURECA-PRO doctoral programme. "This allows us to build even more international pathways for our PhD students, attract even more top lecturers from abroad and discover maximum cooperation opportunities between the various partner universities. EURECA-PRO really offers us many opportunities to further strengthen internationalisation at UHasselt," says Bernard Vanheusden.
With EURECA-PRO, the partner universities aim to broaden their international research cooperation. "Think about sharing research infrastructure, committing to shared PhDs or encouraging our research community to engage with EURECA-PRO strategically with EURECA-PRO when acquiring research funding," says Elke Van Hellemont, coordinator of EURECA-PRO.
Meetings are central during the kick-off week. Besides an opening ceremony and numerous meetings, there is room for workshops, team building and site visits to Ecotron Hasselt University, among others.
As sustainability is central to EURECA-PRO, every effort is being made to make the kick-off week as sustainable as possible. "We are going for zero waste," says Nageeb Zafar, event coordinator. "The catering during the event is completely vegetarian, all participants have been asked to bring their own water bottle, and the goodie bag includes, for example, a solar-powered power bank."
EURECA-PRO is part of the European University Initiative of the European Commission and receives funding from the Erasmus+ programme.
In addition to Hasselt University, EURECA-PRO consists of:
- Montanuniversität Leoben (Austria)
- Université de Lorraine (France)
- Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (Germany)
- Technical University of Crete (Greece)
- University of León (Spain)
- Silesian University of Technology (Poland)
- University of Petrosani (Romania)
- University of Applied Sciences Mittweida (Germany)