My name is Lydia and I am an IVY within the programme INTERREG Großregion | Grande Région. What is the Greater Region, will some of you certainly ask? It is a cross-border region, which comprises of the state of Luxembourg, the regions of Lorraine (France), Wallonia and the German-speaking community of Belgium (Belgium) as well as Saarland and Rhineland-Palatine (Germany).
The European idea has its roots in today's Greater Region and gained in significance above all through the Coal and Steel Community, the associated coal mining industry and the steel industry. Also, one of the founding fathers, Robert Schuman, was born in Luxembourg, trained as a lawyer in Germany and lived in Lorraine.
Thus, the different parts can look back on a long history of cross-border cooperation and have developed various cooperation structures since then, of which one of them is the cooperation in the field of higher education. Six universities from four different countries established a network that offers students and researchers the possibility to study, teach and do research "without borders”: The University of the Greater Region (UniGR).
Researchers from those six universities found in 2014 the UniGR-Center for Border Studies (UniGR-CBS) with the aim of conducting research on borders and border issues. Within the network they have defined five areas of activity: research, mobility, teaching, society and territory. To implement their goals and reach a higher visibility, the partner universities are taking part in the INTERREG V A Greater Region programme between 2018 and 2020.
Since September 2019, I am working at the Central Office of UniGR assisting the coordination team in the area of communication and administration, for example by supporting the creation of the new website. Furthermore, I am participating in different meetings and thus getting an insight into the coordination process between the partners. I attended, for example, a meeting of the working group “teaching” who are working on improving online study offers in cross-border higher education. Though the project is highly scientific, one of UniGR-Center for Border Studies goals is as well to exchange and network with social actors and to create thus a link to society. Through the organisation of Forums, different players from civil society, politics, administration and science can discuss together on current challenges in the border region. At the end of November, I took part in a forum in Esch/Alzette (Luxembourg), which dealt with challenges in the cross-border commerce (following picture).
Furthermore, I had the possibility to present my work as IVY volunteer during an “European Citizens Dialogue” (organized by the Europe Direct offices of the regions). Together with Till, who is also an IVY volunteer in the Greater Region, we had a joint information stand to promote our projects as well as the IVY initiative.