From 2-7 April, close to 400 academics and university leaders from around the world participated in the WUN Conference & AGM 2016, hosted by Maastricht University. Held each year at one of WUN’s member universities, the Conference & AGM brings together the network’s leadership, as well as researchers, experts, administrators, practitioners and policymakers, to discuss the direction of the network and issues related to WUN’s four Global Challenges. This year’s Conference & AGM was also part of the activities organised by Maastricht University in celebration of its 40th anniversary.
Since its beginning, the Conference & AGM has grown significantly. This year’s programme totalled 10 events over 8 days, including the second WUN Migration Conference, as well as workshops in the areas of public health, economics, internationalisation in higher education, and foreign direct investment in China. It also included the annual WUN Presidents Forum in Brussels, which brought together university leaders and representatives from prominent Europe-based organisations to discuss how research can align with policy objectives. During the AGM, members of the Partnership Board, Academic Advisory Group, Coordinators Group, and Global Challenge Steering Groups met to discuss the previous year's achievements and chart the future development of the network.
There were several noteworthy moments throughout the Conference & AGM, beginning with the signing of a collaboration agreement between WUN and the Global Migration Data Analysis Centre in Berlin of the International Organization for Migration (IOM GMDAC) at the WUN Migration Conference. The purpose of this alliance is to fill key gaps in the global knowledge base on migration in order to better inform global policy and practice. Through a number of combined activities, WUN and IOM GMDAC aim to work together over the coming years to improve the quality of migration data, analysis and research.
This year’s Conference & AGM also included the second International Classroom Symposium. Jointly organised by WUN and Maastricht University, the symposium brought together WUN experts from around the world to share their research insights and best practices in regard to internationalisation in higher education. Delegates first heard from Dr Darla Deardorff, Executive Director of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), who is a world-renowned expert in the field of international education, global leadership and intercultural learning/assessment. The delegates then participated in four interactive workshops to discuss topics such as ethics, digital diversity and intercultural learning, before coming together to share their findings at the end of the day.
The WUN Presidents also travelled to Brussels for the annual WUN Presidents Forum, where they were joined by prominent delegates from the European Research Council, European Parliament and European Commission, as well as representatives from national embassies. Titled ‘Open Doors: European Opportunities in Research & Education,’ the Forum focussed on the increasing internationalisation of knowledge through policy frameworks; the broader remit of the European Union and Europe-based agencies around the world; and the fundamental research questions through which WUN and its allied partners can contribute. Delegates heard a keynote address from Professor Jo Ritzen, Former Dutch Minister of Education and Science and former President of Maastricht University, who said that universities must do a better job of measuring and communicating their value in order to claim their rightful place in the global policy sphere.
The next WUN Conference & AGM will take place in New York from 3-5 May 2017. For more information, visit the event website.