Researching on borders from the Greater Region

Hello! I’m Panice, I am a student in the trinational Master in Border Studies, currently in Metz (France), and I’m about to finish my two-months volunteering experience in Saarbrücken (Germany) at the University of the Greater Region (UniGR), a cross-border grouping of seven universities in France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium.

The UniGR is the lead partner of the Interreg VA Greater Region project “UniGR-Center for Border Studies (UniGR-CBS) - European Center for Competence and Knowledge in Border Studies”. The UniGR-CBS is a thematic scientific network conducting research on borders, their meanings, and their challenges. In addition, the centre is active in teaching and works with regional actors to identify the challenges of the Greater Region and to shape its spatial development.

Me in my volunteering place in Villa Europa in Saarbrücken

As a cross-border student and being French and German, the opportunity to work for a cross-border project in higher education and the humanities met my aspirations and interests. I supported this research centre with the translation of documents and articles in German or French, for example for the biannual newsletter or the website. Then I participated in scientific online events and wrote the minutes of one steering committee meeting. Moreover, I learned much about Interreg and its projects. As my volunteering experience took place in the central office of the UniGR, I also helped them with the communication within the grouping and the coordination of the seven universities.

Me on the train as I crossed the border from my home in Metz to go to my workplace to Germany

It is essential to gain a new perspective about borders as a subject of study because they strongly influence their surrounding territory, in Europe or in the world. The objective of the UniGR-CBS is to investigate their impact on the border areas, on human experience, and the effects of interactions or closures. Especially in highly integrated areas such as the Greater Region, their presence re-emerged to our life with the border closures during the covid-crisis. Which has also shown that the needs of the citizens of border areas who may cross the border daily are to be taken more into account.

Panice Kehl, Interreg Project Partner at the Competence Centre UniGR-Center for Border Studies

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