“TruMotion Alliance”: Toward a European University

Representatives of the universities submitting the application during a meeting at Università Cattolica in February. (Credit: Goethe University)

European citizens working constructively together to create a peaceful and successful Europe – that’s the fundamental thought behind the “European Universities” concept proposed by France’s president Emmanual Macron in September 2017. And Goethe University wants to contribute to this goal. Together with six other universities from five cities, it has submitted an application with the European Union for funding within the framework of the EU pilot programme. A decision will be announced in July.

“Trust through mobility“ – this is the theme adopted by the network at their first meeting last year. “TruMotion Alliance” is consequently the name the alliance has given itself. The universities in Birmingham, Lyon Lumière II, Sciences Po Lyon and Cattolica (Milan) are taking part as partners with Goethe University. The universities in Lodz and Tel Aviv are also on board as associate partners.

As University President Birgitta Wolff emphasizes: “Europe is too important to be handed over to populists. So we are glad to take up French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative and participate in this competition for the best concepts for a European University together with our partners from a total of five countries. Science is improved by international cooperation, and Europe stands together in science.”

“The European University continues the idea of interconnectedness through strategic partnerships that has long been practiced at Goethe University,” says Professor Rolf van Dick, who as Vice President is responsible for internationalisation. The partner universities in the joint application with Frankfurt are all also located in cities who are connected with each other as partner cities. Goethe University has taken up the lead role in the consortium and is responsible for project coordination, sustainability and distribution. Birmingham will focus on the area of management structure and mutual learning; Lyon Lumière II and Sciences Po Lyon are in charge of the development of new study programmes and student exchange, and Milan is in charge of citizen involvement.

In total, € 60 million is available for twelve pilot projects in the first round of applications. In its application, the consortium led by Goethe University has applied for the maximum amount of € 6.2 million, of which €1.2 million is to be provided by the consortium itself for personnel costs. The EU plans additional rounds of applications with a funding volume of up to € 1.3 billion.

In a highly publicized speech in September 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the creation of 20 European Universities by 2024 – not by creating new institutions, but through the networking and alignment of existing universities. In a difficult era for the European Union, university science should be strengthened as an important motor of European integration in the expectation that this contributes to the younger generation in particular developing a closer connection with the project of Europe. But science in general is of great significance for the crystallization of a European identity – as expressed, for example, in the Erasmus exchange programme or through the research collaborations funded by the EU. Macron affirmed his vision during a visit at Goethe University in October 2017, and was met with an enthusiastic response.

If the application is successful, the consortium plans extensive activities in teaching and study, and citizen involvement through 2022. The conceptual development of common bachelor degree programmes in social sciences, biological sciences and media sciences would be undertaken with an integrated mobility module, meaning foreign exchange semesters would be required. The master degree programme Audiovisual and Cinema Studies Master at Goethe University, which is offered together with 14 international partners, serves as a model. The programmes will be supplemented by additional, low-threshold formats intended to facilitate international student exposure, such as digitally-supported international study group networks, internships with business and public organisations, guest lecturers and joint summer schools. New opportunities for intensive exchange of knowledge and experience is also intended to be made available for university personnel in teaching and administration, for example through job shadowing and workshops for the development of joint research ideas and applications. In addition, the conference series “The University and the City”, with partners from city and regional administration and the private business sector, is also to be continued.

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