Professor Michael Osborne, Director of PASCAL in Europe was very pleased to be invited by Seoul National University for a week of activities in Seoul, beginning 14 October 2019.

On Friday 18 October, he was a keynote speaker at the 20th International Conference on Research in Education organised by the Department of Education, Education Research Institute, and Seoul National University with over 500 delegates. The conference was co-hosted by the Korean Ministry of Education, the Korean Educational Development Service (KEDI), the Korean Educational Research Association and the Korea Institute for Educational Evaluation.

The Fourth International Conference on Learning Cities, was jointly organized by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UiL) and the Municipality of Medellín; during the 2-day Conference from 1-3 October 2019, there were around 650 conference participants, including 50 mayors, as well as government representatives and experts in the field of education.

In a series of SUEUAA working papers, the team focus on overarching themes (environment, policy, migration, gender, and the economy), and show the similarities and differences across the different study cities in terms of the capacity of the University to respond to these city-wide issues. 

The fifth in this series provides both a general overview of the socio-economic context of each of the partner countries and cities and  explores the role that universities can play and what they can contribute in supporting and enhancing socio-economic development in the pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

One of its recent seminars of the Jean Monnet Network, ‘The EU’s Role in the Implementation of the SDGs in Asia Pacific’, was delivered by Dr Lavinia Hirsu, SUEUAA co-I, on the topic of Gender Equality. The related Policy Brief produced by Lavinia, and two colleagues who were also part of our GCRF project, SUEUAA,  Lamiah Hashemi, University of Kurdistan and Zenaida Quezada-Reyes, Philippines Normal University is attached.

The UKFIET: Education and Development Forum recently organised a conference (September 17-19, 2019) in Oxford, UK, around the theme of Inclusive Education Systems: Future, Fallacies and Finance. The conference included a series of presentations organised around six major sub-themes: future directions in inclusive education systems, problematizing inclusive systems, education financing for global equity and inclusion, education technology and data science for inclusive systems, education system actors, strengthening inclusive practice and system responses to conflict and crises.

The way we choose to frame current global challenges matters. Kenneth Burke called the language we use as “equipment for living” because how we speak about our acts and practices has an impact on how we understand our actions and how we decide to prioritise our next action plans. The conference Rhetoric as Equipment for Living organised by the Rhetoric Society of Europe (September 11-13, 2019, Ghent, Belgium) looked at the importance of rhetoric in various current contexts: social, cultural, political and anthropocenic.

Basically, although the universities engagement in local and regional community in theory dates back at least two decades and SUEUAA project was not the first attempt of this kind, the project created bases for close critical discourse among the city and universities representatives to discuss the city’s challenges, their causes and consequences. The project opened up a debate about the responsibility of both parties and how each of them may play an effective role to overcome challenges.

By opening the discussions, it was realised that the city’s overall environment is a multifaceted, complicated and dynamic phenomenon affected by so many different players. As a result, it’s effective management needs integrated, harmonised and mutually respected policies, which must be taken collectively via citywide engagement of all major, and also many minor players.

In this regard, the universities have a distinct responsibly through which they not only prepare active, democratic and responsible citizens to participate in the community’s development, but they have to provide the city’s senior officials timely, valid and reliable data and information for making necessary decisions when it is required.

The community engagement programs of universities have generated interest among universities and some local government officials to work for collaboration to develop the communities in Manila. The items in the research instrument has raised awareness among extension coordinators to explore and develop relevant programs for Manila communities. Likewise, local government officials have seen the potentials of collaborative efforts to solve the problems of Manila. There was a realization that through partnership between and among stakeholders in the communities will lead to community development.

After the focus group discussion with the extension coordinators of PNU, they became active in the communities and now they feel confident that they were able to implement the programs well with our partner communities.

In the messenger group; one university extension coordinator gave a message saying that: "our extension work is for PNU and the country”.  

Thus, dialogue is important in doing collaborative programs. And the focused group discussion was an instrument for dialogue.

The SUEUAA project had a number of positive outcomes at both personal and institutional levels. The project enabled us to look more closely into the role of higher education in community and national development. It also provided an opportunity to learn in more detail, the challenges that the City of Harare grapples with to meet the expectations of residents and other stakeholders and how universities such as UZ could be more actively involved in addressing them.

The nine in-depth interviews and numerous other informal discussions we conducted with different stakeholders provided us with a rich understanding of the operations of the two institutions. It also opened up new sources of information for both staff and students whose research problems should emerge from day-to-day needs rather than just hypothetical constructs.

The various visits that we undertook through SUEUAA to other countries and participation in meetings, workshops, symposia, and conferences were all enriching academically, professionally and personally as they broadened our experiences and perspectives. The Principal Investigator, Professor Michael Osborne and the whole team of SUEUAA researchers from six countries were a real source of inspiration as they freely shared their rich knowledge and experiences.