U21:Connect - February 2016

15 February 2016
The latest news and items of interest to staff and students across the Universitas 21 network.


Welcome to the February edition of U21 Connect, featuring all the latest news and items of interest from the Universitas 21 network.



U21 News

Professor Mary McAleese wins Gilbert Medal 2016

Professor Mary McAleese has been announced as the recipient of the 2016 Gilbert Medal for Internationalisation awarded by Universitas 21 (U21). The medal is named in honour of the late Professor Alan Gilbert, founder of Universitas 21, and upholds his work as a lifelong proponent of the benefits of internationalisation. It celebrates some of the core objectives of the U21 network, which aim to increase understanding, trust and partnership between international universities.

Professor McAleese was inaugurated as the eighth President of Ireland in 1997 where she served for two terms, fourteen years in all. The theme of her Presidency was ‘Building Bridges’, exemplified by her sustained attempts to reach out and negotiate constructive  discussion between different communities in Northern Ireland, including her work in brokering the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Her widely admired work during her Presidency was underpinned by her longstanding commitment to national and international issues of justice, equality, educational opportunity, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation.

Since the end of her Presidency Prof McAleese’s work has focused on her commitment to the reform and enhancement of international higher education.

The Gilbert Medal itself features the winning design from a competition among students at Lund University, the host of the first award presentation. The medal is manufactured in the world-renowned Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, UK and has been described by the craftsmen who work on it as “simply stunning”. The medal will be presented to Professor McAleese on Thursday 7 May 2015, as part of U21’s Annual Presidential Meeting, being held at The National University of Singapore.

To read the full story and reaction from Professor McAleese as well as Sir David Eastwood, please follow the link below:



U21 Award Winners Announced!

Universitas 21 has announced the recipients of this year’s U21 Awards for Internationalisation, recognising individual efforts which further internationalisation and build relations between U21 members and beyond. The 2016 awardees are Dr Wondwossen Gebreyes of The Ohio State University and Dr Michael Clifford of The University of Nottingham.

Dr Gebreyes’ award is presented for his commitment to and leadership in international education, most notably for his work in the fields of global health and veterinary medicine, as well as molecular epidemiology in which he has initiated numerous collaborative partnerships which have inspired teaching, learning and research globally.

A 2016 U21 Award has also been given to Dr Michael Clifford in recognition of his long-term dedication to the furthering of international education, in particular in relation to his sustained impact and leadership in the development of the student learning experience as well as on communities throughout the developing world.

The hand-crafted wood and glass awards will be presented at a special ceremony in May 2016 as part of U21’s Annual Presidential Meeting, being held at The National University of Singapore.

To read the full story and reaction from the winners as well as the wider network, please follow the link below:



The next edition of U21:Discover will be online in March!

The next edition of U21:Discover, U21’s online newsletter, will be available at the end of March.  It will feature the usual summary of events and activities from around the network, including participant reports from the U21 Managers’ Meeting.

We’re always looking for news from the network, so if you would like to contribute to this publication please contact Ben Griffiths in the U21 Secretariat (ben.griffiths@universitas21.com).

To access previous editions of U21:Discover as well as other U21 publications, please see the 'Newsletters and Annual Reviews' section of the website.


Educational Innovation

U21 Shared Online Course (U21 SOC)

A new U21 Shared Online Course (U21 SOC) is in preparation and will be run its first iteration in November 2016, with two other U21 iterations scheduled for 2017. The course will run over 5 weeks and will be pitched at a first year undergraduate level, but it will also have the capability of being embedded in larger modules by U21 partners, and there is also an interest by some U21 partners in using it  as a CPD offering in areas such as architectural technology.

The course is being developed by a team UCD’s College of Social Science and Law, led by Dr Niamh Moore, School of Geography. Using a working title of 'Future Societies' the course will help students understand that where individuals make their home has a powerful and significant impact on their health, education, occupation and overall quality of life.

The core questions addressed during the U21 SOC will be:  what challenges does planetary urbanization present to the lives of those in different geographical settings and how can cities be made more liveable for future generation? Through stimulating taught materials and innovative assessment this course will encourage students to appreciate the impact of planetary urbanization on different social, physical and economic aspects of the city in which they live and/or study and at a broader international level. U21 students will be encouraged to actively share their learning experiences online with other students across the world, and to appreciate how planetary urbanization influences their own area of study and the shape of their future careers. 


U21 Educational Innovation Teaching Practices Survey (TPS)

A project is being undertaken by the U21 Educational Innovation Cluster and led by Professor Simon Bates of UBC.  The original survey was developed at UBC and this project will enable us to customize the original survey (to reflect local terminology and organizational structure) for U21 institutions that opt-in to delivering it, to support ethics review board processes within U21 institutions and to undertake a full analysis of response datasets, both in aggregate and by participating institution. Institutional data and analysis will be shared back with U21 contacts.  Responses will shed light on:

  • What practices are faculty using in their teaching, and in what combinations and proportions?
  • What are their attitudes towards teaching and learning?
  • What are their views on the institutional climate and culture around teaching and learning?

To date, six U21 institutions have indicated a willingness to participate. A reminder email will be sent next week, ahead of the deadline for acceptances to participate on 15th Feb.


U21 Educational Innovation Conference

Mark your diaries now for the annual U21 Educational Innovation Conference, which will take place 26-28 October 2016.  This year’s conference will be hosted by the University of Birmingham and will focus on a number of issues around teaching excellence.  Further details about the full programme will be available later this month, so watch this space! 


Researcher Engagement

Registration opens for the Researcher Engagement Cluster meetings and Workshop

The Researcher Engagement Cluster are holding their annual meetings at the University of Maryland 3-4 May 2016. The Research Leaders and DDoGS groups will meet in parallel to discuss a variety of topics of relevance to international research and doctoral study. There will also be a joint session whereby the U21 Executive Director, Eva Wiberg, will outline plans for thematic working across the network. The DDoGS will also be holding a pre-meeting Workshop on ‘Doctoral Mobility’ on 2 May 2016. Registration is now open for all these meetings and all U21 Research Leaders and DDoGS are invited to register via the events page.



Early Career Researchers Workshop – nominations open

The next Early Career Researchers Workshop will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 29-30 September 2016. This year’s theme will look at ‘Big Data at the heart of 21stcentury research’ and is open to all researchers based within U21 members who are within eight years of receiving their PhD. A draft programme is now available on our website and nomination forms have been sent out to all members alerting them to start their internal selection processes. The deadline for the Secretariat to receive nominations is 6May 2016.

Full details are provided via the event page. 


Student Experience

U21 Summer School: Traditional Chinese Medicine and its Culture

The U21 Summer School will be held between 4 and 18 July by Shanghai Jiao Tong University on the theme “Traditional Chinese Medicine and its Culture”. It will be preceded by an online course open to all U21 students, integrating a virtual element to the programme.

Each U21 member is invited to nominate up to five students and one staff member to the face-to face element of the U21 Summer School. Participation in the online element of the U21 Summer School is open to all students and staff in the network.  Nominations close on 15 March 2016, and all attending students will need to register by 15 April 2016.

For more information, visit our 2016 U21 Summer School webpage.


Undergraduate Research Conference: A global perspective on ageing societies

The 2016 URC will be hosted between 11 and 16 July by Tecnológico de Monterrey, with the theme “A global perspective on ageing societies”. Tecnológico de Monterrey are pleased to invite all U21 partners to nominate up to three undergraduate students to participate, giving either an oral or a poster presentation on the chosen theme. In addition, all U21 partners are invited to send a member of their faculty or teaching staff to accompany the students and take part in the conference.

The conference programme will include an introduction to presenting materials in a virtual environment. Tecnológico de Monterrey, through its virtual universities, will offer a workshop to participating students and staff, preparing them for a recording of their presentations. This is an exciting opportunity to build on skills and participate from a professional broadcasting environment. Recordings will be available widely to network members, so students who do not have the opportunity to travel can also experience part of the conference.

Attending students will need to register by 15 May 2016. Students who require a visa prior to entry to Mexico are invited to register by 15 April 2016.

For more information, visit our 2016 Undergraduate Research Conference webpage.


People and places

PUC Professor wins Pritzker Architecture Prize for 2016 

Professor Alejandro Aravena, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile's Architecture alumni and current Architecture, Design and Urban Studies School professor, has won Pritzker Architecture Prize 2016 which is more widely known to many as the ‘Nobel prize for Architecture’.

Professor Aravena, at 48 years old, is among the esteemed prize's youngest winners and is best known for creating inventive, low-cost social housing. His Santiago-based practice ELEMENTAL has built over 2,500 units of housing since 2000, focusing on under-served urban migrants. This included a 2003 project in Iquique, Chile where the firm built housing units which appeared half-built, with the intention that residents extended their living space into the leftover void.

For U21 delegates present at the Rectors and Presidents AGM last May 2015 in Santiago, you may remember the last day of the event being held in PUC’s “Innovation Center” building which was designed by professor Aravena, along with several other buildings at PUC.

Many congratulations from all at Universitas 21 to Professor Aravena on his fantastic achievement!

For more on Professor Aravena and the Pritzker Prize please see the link below:



UQ Student named ‘Young Australian of the Year’ in Australia Day Honours!

University of Queensland Engineering student Lucas Patchett (along with business partner Nic Marchesi) has been named Young Australian of the Year for his selfless work creating change for Australia’s homeless.

The entrepreneurial student converted an old van into a mobile Laundromat which is now washing 200 loads a week. Having won Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year award, the duo were recognised for their start-up ‘Orange Sky Laundry’ which in 2014 was local to Brisbane, before expanding to North Queensland to wash clothes for cyclone-ravaged communities, with four vans now running in Brisbane as well as the Gold Coast and in Victoria.

The Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Commerce student now plans to expand the service across Australia and introduce a training and employment model, saying he wants to start a national conversation on the issue of homelessness:

“I’ve been blown away by the support we’ve been getting and seeing how generous people are, we also have to say thank you to our 250 plus volunteers,” he said. “One of the first guys we helped actually studied engineering like me, but after some bad luck in life he ended up on the street, that really opened our eyes to the massive issue of how easily homelessness can happen.”