University engages European network to ‘harness insights’

An international event will be held at the University of South Australia Mount Gambier Campus next week – bringing Europe to the Limestone Coast. The event, hosted by the University’s EU-funded Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, will digitally engage Europe in Mount Gambier during the time of a global pandemic.

Jean Monnet Network participants will contribute from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Romania, Finland, Japan and New Zealand. The event was initially planned four years ago when European experts were set to fly to the Mount Gambier campus. However, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the prominent academics, entrepreneurs and policy analysts from Europe will now ‘visit’ the campus via Zoom video calls.

“We were really keen to try and bring these people and still go ahead and do this work,” UniSA External Engagement Dean and Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence Executive Director Professor Anthony Elliott said. “We’re bringing lots of the same people that we wanted to bring in, but they’re now coming in via Zoom.”

The closed session will discuss and explore issues including sustainable living, smart cities, connected mobilities and Industry 4.0. “On the one hand, we have been physically rendered immobile, but arguably, people have now become digitally mobile in a way that even 18 months ago they just were not,” Prof Elliott said. “Both the centre and the network is very much focussed on trying to bring networks of leading academics and researchers in both Australia and Europe as well as leading figures from industry, business and enterprise, as well as policy experts at local, regional, national and global government-type levels.

“Through the centre and the network, we have flown staff from UniSA regularly to Europe. “We have been running these sorts of events, these network meetings, where many of them have been conducted for instance in Finland, in Denmark, in Germany and elsewhere and we have also been conducting them previously here in Adelaide.”

Prof Elliott said the event was an opportunity to harness some of these insights and open up a broader dialogue between changes happening across Europe and what Australia can learn from these European approaches. He said European colleagues will also be interested to find out more about what is going on here at a local level.

Prof Elliott said he hoped the event will be the first of several others hosted in Mount Gambier and Whyalla.

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