On August 24-26, the first EU-CONEXUS (European University for Smart Urban Coastal Sustainability) Festival took place at Klaipėda University. Nearly 100 members of the EU-CONEXUS community gathered in Klaipėda: the heads of partner universities, researchers, staff, students, art groups, and athletes.
The beginning of the Festival on August 24 was marked by raising the EU-CONEXUS flag in the KU campus. The most important feature of this Festival was that it was the first live meeting of the EU-CONEXUS communities. Representatives of the University of La Rochelle (France), Agricultural University of Athens (Greece), Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest (Romania), Valencia Catholic University (Spain), and University of Zadar (Croatia) came to Klaipėda. The programme of the EU-CONEXUS Festival also included exhibitions, business meetings, cognitive tours of the KU campus, faculties, and laboratories, the cities of Klaipėda and Neringa as well as various sports competitions and concerts. The programme of the event was enriched by the XXII International University Theatre Forum held in Klaipėda at that time, where the students from Romania also presented their performance. An evening presenting Lithuanian traditions and culture was organised for the guests from other countries: a lot of good emotions came when learning Lithuanian traditional dance steps together with the KU student national art ensemble Vytinė.
“Despite the unfavourable circumstances, we have taken a number of steps together to unite our academic and research potential as partners,” says prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas, Rector of KU. “We started to implement joint study programs and made a lot of progress in the creation and development of a virtual learning environment. Thanks to our researchers collaborating on the Research for Society project, we will combine scientific knowledge and experience in the nearest future. Thus, we have proved that we can work unhindered for the common goal, regardless of the surrounding obstacles.”
As noted by prof. dr. Jean-Marc Ogier, Chair of the EU-CONEXUS Governing Board, this was the first occasion to meet physically: “The EU-CONEXUS Festival has proven the importance of getting in touch in real life for the dynamic of collaboration. Trust and mutual interests are best created and stabilised by knowing each other on more levels than purely technical ones. And personal encounters cannot be replaced for achieving this most effectively. Many thanks to Klaipėda University’s staff for organising the festival this year. We needed it, and it was welcomed by students, staff, and stakeholders. It was a wonderful festival, which will remain in the memory of many European students for a very long time!”
“This festival was an important event in the history of the European University we are creating. During the live meetings of the last three days, we have especially strengthened the ties of this large community,” says dr. Rima Mickevičienė, head of the EU-CONEXUS project in Klaipėda.
On the last day of the Festival, the students had a unique opportunity to try their strength at an Inter-university Dragon Boat Race, which was won by the students from the University of Zadar, while the Festival’s flag and the responsibility for organizing the 2nd Festival as early as this autumn were taken over by a delegation from the University of La Rochelle.
In 2019, KU became one of the 17 universities of the future created by the European Commission. 54 European universities have been invited to this European project, which combines academic experience and scientific knowledge and potential. EU-CONEXUS, an alliance brought together by KU and five other partners, specialises in the sustainable development of contemporary coastal cities. The statistical picture of EU-CONEXUS is really impressive: over 67,000 students, just under 5,500 staff (academics, researchers, and auxiliary staff), 34 faculties, and 65 research groups.