As we come to the end of the year, we look back on a year full of the joys of international collaboration and collegiality across INU!
2023 is the year of our 25th anniversary as a network, and as such, we begin by re-branding with our new logo design to mark the occasion as designed by Universidad Nacional del Litoral student, Malena Camila Rodriguez.
We started the year with International Student Conference in Indonesia, on “Inclusivity and Accessibility to Welfare and Sustainable Living After the Pandemic”, with students and speakers from INU member universities attending this annual event organised by Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia, in collaboration with INU.
Shukrana Shukrullah, student of James Madison University (USA) commented on her experience “The International Student Conference pushed me to test my existing beliefs, expand my knowledge of what I thought I already knew, cultivate the way I approach problems and solutions, and build connections with people that will leave a lifelong impact on me.”
In March, INU warmly welcomed two new member universities; Osnabrück University and guest member Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine to the network, expanding our membership to 13 universities from around world.
INU Council members met in South Africa in March 2023 for the 35th INU Council meeting, to review governance, activities and for future planning. The meeting also marked the end of the two-year term for European University Viadrina, who held INU Presidency from 2021-2023, with votes of thanks from INU members for their leadership during this time. Our host, Stellenbosch University, was congratulated and thanked for taking over INU Presidency for the next two year term, 2023-2025, with Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy-Vice Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs at Stellenbosch University, as our new INU President.
At the end of March, the Intercultural Learning for Global Engagement (ILGE) group organised an online conference, sharing expertise from across member universities and encouraging peer-to-peer engagement in the fields of intercultural learning and global engagement. The conference bought together staff from across INU member universities to share intercultural learning: theory, practice, and research, institution-wide efforts in development of intercultural competencies as well as looking at UN’s SDGs at intersection with intercultural competencies/global engagement related topics.
In May, five Researcher Mobility Awards were allocated to enable research collaboration visit across INU members, including visits from Stellenbosch to Hiroshima, from Viadrina to De Montfort, from Kingston to James Madison, from Universidad Nacional del Litoral to Rovira i Virgili and Tecnológico de Antioquia to Universidad Nacional del Litoral. These awards facilitate research across a broad range of research areas, as well as across a broad global reach.
One researcher commented “Engaging in the program was a valuable experience that not only broadened my academic horizons but also fostered meaningful collaborations. Working closely with colleagues we blended our expertise to address an interesting problem. The collaborative spirit within the program not only enriched my personal experience but also allowed experimenting the academic synergy. “
June and July were busy months planning for our flagship program, International Student Seminar for Global Citizenship and Peace, on the theme of Climate Emergency and Action, hosted by Hiroshima University in August. Students from across INU member universities experienced a program of workshops, group work, site visits, Japanese culture as well as the official Peace Memorial ceremony on 6th August, commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The seminar culminates in a United Nations role play, where students working in allocated groups representing a country delegation to the UN, where they debate, negotiate and vote on amending and passing a draft UN resolution on “Contributing to the Realization of the Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment’.
Student feedback on the student seminar experience reflected the transformative nature of the program:
“Exciting, engaging and impactful. A truly amazing opportunity to focus on peace, intercultural understanding and climate change with a passionate, thoughtful and amazing group of people.” Liz Blyth, student from De Montfort University, UK.
“Unique experience to engage in global topics, improve academic skills and meet people from all over the world.” Nicolás Badaracco, student from Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina.
“My time at the INU conference in Hiroshima has deeply impacted my perceptions of the world. Being surrounded by students and leaders from different backgrounds and cultures pushed me to challenge my own beliefs, while allowing me the opportunity to view complex topics through a different lens.”
Celebrating 25 years of INU, this year the student seminar coincided with a special INU Council meeting and INU Leaders’ Summit, with leaders from INU member universities in attendance to mark the occasion and discuss “The role of Universities in politically changing and social contexts.” Following round table discussions, INU leaders signed a Charter, with a pledge reaffirming our shared commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity, the integration of education and research for societal benefit, the protection of academic freedom and threats against democracy faced globally.
The charter also provided the opportunity for INU members to re-affirm their institutional commitment to INU, with emphasis on core values such as global citizenship, togetherness, sustainability and embedding technology.
The Leaders also attended a Student Symposium, with student panel members who were attending the student seminar, sharing their hopes and concerns for the future. Coinciding three INU events in Hiroshima, the Leaders’ Summit, Council meeting and Student Seminar delivered a renewed sense of togetherness between INU members at all levels – institution-to-institution, peer-to-peer and student-to-staff, reinvigorated the spirit and importance of international cooperation, friendship and dialogue. Our deepest gratitude to Hiroshima University for being such excellent hosts for these important events for INU!
Into September, and INU’s Nursing collaborative present their INU project in Manchester at Royal College of Nursing Conference.
INU members who attended annual conferences for international education, both NAFSA in Washington in May and EAIE in Rotterdam in September, enjoyed informal INU networking receptions, giving the opportunity to re-connect in person as well as meeting new members joining INU.
In October, the Henry Fong Award 2023 was awarded to Universidad Nacional del Litoral student, Paloma Rivera who intends to use the award to attend the Summer School at European University Viadrina, Germany on “The European system of human rights protection” in July 2024.
Staff Knowledge Exchange visits took place throughout the year, across many member universities in 2023, with professional services staff visiting Malmö University, Hiroshima University, Kingston University, European University Viadrina, Rovira i Virgili University and James Madison University as hosts, with a further two visit already planned to take places in 2024.
One Staff Knowledge Exchange visitor commented on her experience “What an experience! I learnt so much about myself, my organization and research management.”
Another Staff Knowledge Exchange participant commented “The Staff Knowledge Exchange program was one of the most interesting and meaningful professional development experiences in my memory. The opportunity to receive and share information with professionals doing similar work but in a much different setting allowed me to develop new and helpful perspectives on the processes, expectations, and culture of my home department. ”
We wrap up 2023 with allocation of INU’s Seed Money Funding to two projects; ‘Business in Global Citizenship: Creating Innovative and Responsive Collaboration for Lifelong Learning’ , a collaborative project between De Montfort University and Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia, and Building Cultural Competencies: Scaling Collaborative Design Challenges for a more just and sustainable world led by Malmö University, James Madison University and European University Viadrina.
Looking forward to 2024, INU is excited to be launching our new online program for students; Global Citizenship and Sustainable Futures: Learning for Change. The program is developed and delivered collaboratively with 10 faculty from member universities and explores what it means to be a global citizen through learning and reflecting on a range of key issues affecting the world today.
In addition, our in-person offer for students; International Student Conference in January 2024 on “Empowering Youth and Local Voices for Human-Centric, Sustainable and Inclusive Smart Cities”, as well as International Student Seminar for Global Citizenship and Peace with the newly announced theme for 2024, “Global Peace and Political Justice” takes place in August 2024.
Our next 37th INU Council meeting will be online, followed by our in-person Council meeting at De Montfort University, UK in September 2024.
A massive thank you to all INU colleagues for their endless support and dedication to INU and its mission, bringing these joint initiatives to life and making our interactions so fruitful and enjoyable. As all those involved in INU will know, we recognise and value the close friendships across member universities which have continued to go from strength to strength and make INU such a close, inclusive network to be a part of.
Thank you to each and every one of you – and all the very best for the new year ahead!