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AU researchers will be key figures in European alliance

AU has appointed the researchers who will be driving forces in Circle U, the ambitious university alliance that aims to strengthen research, education and innovation across the seven participating institutions.

The European Circle U alliance will shortly begin the transition from the drawing board and out into the real world. The good intentions must now be transformed into concrete new opportunities for Aarhus University’s employees and students. And more cohesion in the European university sector must be created.

If the mission is to succeed, it will need respected academics as a driving force, to develop ideas and engage colleagues and students. That is why each of the seven universities in the Circle U alliance has appointed significant researchers as academic chairs within six selected areas. 

Climate, democracy and health in focus

Three of the areas are particularly central to Circle U’s work: Namely, the so-called Knowledge Hubs (read more) that make up the academic frameworks for the creation of new connections between research, education and innovation. 

The purpose of Knowledge Hubs is to unite students and researchers from all of the Circle U universities to solve specific societal problems within three main themes: climate, global health and democracy. Collaboration can take place in various forms, for example summer schools, seminars or new research projects.

AU’s academic chairs for the three Knowledge Hubs are:

The three Knowledge Hubs will also be attached to a coming Open School of Public Governance (read more) that will develop degree programme elements for PhD degree programmes, continuing/further education and for full-time students. The academic chair for the Open School has yet to be appointed. 

Focus on degree programmes and students 

The remaining two academic chairs will also focus on students and degree programmes. Under the title Student-led Sustainable Innovation, Senior Researcher Morten Foss (Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center) will take part in creating projects and courses that give students new tools for developing the continent in a more sustainable direction.

Finally, Professor Susan Wright (Danish School of Education) has been tasked with developing a ‘thinking and action tank’ (read more) that will take part in forming future European learning environments and advising on European education policy.

Pro-rector Berit Eika is pleased with the appointment of the new academic chairs:

“It is hard to overestimate the importance of the academic chairs’ role in making sure that we succeed with Circle U. They will drive not only drive academic development; they will act as ambassadors both internally and externally. So I’m pleased that AU is contributing such a strong team of talented researchers who have a desire to help up advance our European ambitions.”