The University of Konstanz officially joins the "European University for Well-Being" – in short EUniWell – after signing a corresponding accession agreement with the existing EUniWell partners. The long-term goal of the University Alliance is to promote the well-being of all and in line with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through research, teaching and social responsibility.
Both in research and teaching as well as at the institutional level, the University of Konstanz is already strongly aligned with the United Nations' SDGs, as is also true for key areas of the EUniWell Alliance. "We are very pleased to have been asked to join this attractive Alliance that fits our university so well. Our membership in EUniWell will give us the opportunity to further strengthen our work in the areas of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, for example, in inequality research, ecological sustainability, teacher education and health, as well as to expand and advance these activities together with strong international partners," says Katharina Holzinger, rector of the University of Konstanz.
The EUniWell Alliance
EUniWell was launched in 2020 and is currently supported by EU funding in the context of the European Universities Initiative. The aim of this initiative is to strengthen the global competitiveness of European universities by providing financial support to transnational higher education alliances for the development of innovative formats and forms of collaboration in education, research and transfer. As one of these alliances and under the leadership and coordination of the University of Cologne, EUniWell currently consists of the Universities of Birmingham (England), Florence (Italy), Cologne (Germany), Leiden (Netherlands), Linnaeus (Sweden), Murcia (Spain), Nantes (France) and Semmelweis (Hungary). EUniWell welcomed Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine) as its newest member in August 2022.
In addition to shared core values, the existing EUniWell partners – and now the University of Konstanz, too – are united by a clear focus in the areas of research, teaching and university development on topics relevant to society and sustainability. “We deliberately think of ‘well-being’ from multiple perspectives and in an interdisciplinary way, since well-being is never realised in a vacuum, but is always the result of a complex interplay of individual, societal and environmental factors,” explains Beatrix Busse, EUniWell Chief Development Officer and Vice-Rector for Teaching and Studies at the University of Cologne. “Therefore, the University of Konstanz with its interdisciplinary orientation is a great asset for our Alliance.”
In its mission statement, EUniWell has defined four key areas in which the partners of the Alliance will work closely together in order to make the best possible use of the expertise and potential for cooperation among the participating universities. These are based on six of the UN's 17 global SDGs: SDGs #3 ("Good health and well-being"), #4 ("Quality education"), #11 ("Sustainable cities and communities") and #16 ("Peace, justice and strong institutions") in the corresponding EUniWell areas "Well-being and health", "Teacher education", "Environment, urbanity and well-being" and "Individual and social well-being". SDGs #5 ("Gender equality") and #10 ("Reduced inequalities") are transversal goals in the EUniWell mission statement.
Major overlaps on core topics
Professor Axel Freimuth, Rector of the University of Cologne, EUniWell’s coordinating institution, underlines: “The long-term goals of the Alliance are to research and implement conditions that sustainably promote well-being and quality of life at the individual, institutional and overall societal levels. Overall, there is a great deal of overlap between EUniWell’s main areas of focus and the University of Konstanz’s sphere of activity.” For example, the University of Konstanz is also strongly committed to the United Nations' SDGs. In the current THE Impact Ranking, the social impact the University of Konstanz has in the area of sustainability related to six of the SDGs was assessed as far above average. In addition to the top ranking of 15th place worldwide with regard to SDG 16, the university has strengths in two other SDGs (5 and 10) with close ties to key areas of the EUniWell initiative.
Moreover, the University of Konstanz has long-standing collaborations with several of the EUniWell partner universities. "As we join EUniWell, we are not starting over with completely new partners, but rather building on existing vibrant partnerships and strong, productive collaborations that are already in place. Our membership in EUniWell will help to strengthen and develop these relationships further," Dorothea Debus, Vice Rector for International Affairs, Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the University of Konstanz, explains.
The University of Konstanz in the European Universities Initiative
The University of Konstanz already has some experience when it comes to the European Universities Initiative: In 2020, the university was successful in the second round of the competition with its current partners in Paris (France), Roskilde (Denmark), the Aegean (Greece) and Sofia (Bulgaria), forming the European Reform University Alliance (ERUA). These young reform universities have drawn upon their shared history of permanent institutional renewal to develop a model of an ideal European university. The alliance has focussed its work on improving student mobility through flexible, cross-national study programmes and on developing innovative teaching and learning formats as well as initiatives in the area of staff mobility and exchange.
The University of Konstanz has been actively involved in ERUA right from the start, and will continue to work on all joint projects as a full ERUA member until October 2023, helping to ensure that all goals set for the end of the first funding period will be achieved. "We remain fully committed to ERUA, we actively work towards reaching all project goals by the end of the first funding period in October 2023, and we hope that this will in turn contribute to putting ERUA in a position to flourish during the next funding period and beyond. During the next year, everyone involved at the University of Konstanz will continue to do their best to achieve this," affirms Dorothea Debus. After the end of the current funding period, the University of Konstanz also hopes to retain an affiliation with ERUA as an associate member, so as to be able to participate in, and to contribute to, some of the alliance's projects in future.