The European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) – international organisation that places the challenge-based approach as a core for its pedagogics, research and innovation. The main idea at ECIU university is to get the outside world in the curriculum. To do so, one of its members, Linköping University, hosted the first European Society Quest Event on February 12-13.
With around thirty challenges, ten pitches and over fifty participants from ECIU cities and regions, the Society Quest Event (SQE) had a fully booked programme. Challenges varied from energy transition cases to questions concerning access to social housing in emergency and risk situations.
Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) was represented by Mindaugas Bulota, the head of KTU National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, Rimantė Sedziniauskienė, the head of KTU Open Access Management Unit, and Visvaldas Varžinskas, associate professor at Institute of Environmental Engineering.
Participants presented their challenges, discussed them during the workshop and selected the best-fit challenges for ECIU University. Later, these challenges will be offered to students, faculty members, city communities and businesses to solve.
Workshops were based on thematic discussions, the challenges were set in their context to find common ground for development and possible specific actions, educational offers or innovation events within the ECIU University framework.
V. Varžinskas is the Council member of Kaunas Municipality and Chair of Committee for Sustainable Development and Investment, presented Kaunas city challenges.
The first suggested challenge was the development and supporting of informal networks for transformation of Kaunas towards the Sustainable Learning City. Kaunas aims to be a role model for other learning cities in Lithuania and to contribute to the creation of an information and knowledge society in the country. It is the first city in Lithuania to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC).
Second, the transition towards a more circular economy brings great opportunities for Kaunas city and its citizens. It is an important part to modernise and transform the economy, moving in a more sustainable direction.
Also, it is a great challenge to enable the circular economy transition in Kaunas city, a much stronger focus is needed on the role of waste prevention, re-use, repair, and recycling, as opposed to disposal. In addition, a city must play an active role in facilitating sustainable, circular consumption and efficient resource management.
KTU joined ECIU network in 2016 and is the only Lithuanian university in the Consortium. ECIU University is an EU-funded collaboration between 13 universities in the ECIU network. Its aim is to pilot an innovative, challenge-based university model.
More about the initiative: https://en.ktu.edu/university/eciu/#ECIUUniversity