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The European University of Post-Industrial Cities; Towards a collaborative approach and structure towards engaged research

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UNIC4ER (The European University of Post-Industrial Cities; Towards a collaborative approach and structure towards engaged research)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2021-09-01 do 2023-02-28

The European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC) began as an alliance of 8 possessing like challenges and opportunities for enabling mobility, inclusion, and impact. UNIC works to ensure social inclusion in university life and the broader context of superdiverse post-industrial cities, and in partnership with corresponding city governments and stakeholders. UNIC aims to contribute to excellent democratic education and research to achieve societal impact. To realise this ambition, UNIC4ER was launched in September 2021. The primary goal of UNIC4ER is developing a common alliance-wide framework to develop engaged research capacities across UNIC and to provide support systems for involving and engaging citizens, civil society and public/cities authorities in co-creative research and innovation for societal impact. In the context of UNIC, the term ‘Engaged Research’ is an overarching guiding principle that describes research approaches that have a common interest in collaborative inquiry with societal actors as partners in the process (e.g. Citizen Science, Participatory Action Research).
Work Package (WP) 1 is characterised by managing, communicating and disseminating the research and innovation that UNIC4ER adds to UNIC. Specific objectives are: 1 Developing a broad spectrum of dissemination and communication channels of UNIC to reach a diverse research community on engaged research on multiple platforms. 2 Adding activities to fully comply with the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020.

An iterative process was followed to approach the institutional integration of research policies for creating the draft UNIC Engaged Research Strategy (WP2). This process began with a virtual strategy forum which examined mapping our inter- and intra-institutional Engaged Research (ER) policies, practices and infrastructures within UNIC; building a common understanding of ER; and bridging between UNIC CityLabs and our ER practices. Included in this programme was a virtual panel to showcase best practices and discuss challenges and opportunities of ER. The Strategy Forum focused on informing an ER strategy document and gather input towards drafting Declaration on ER. This declaration defines ER as: "An overarching term that describes a wide range of comprehensive research approaches and methodologies that share a common interest in collaborative engagement ‘with’ and ‘within’ society."

Main objectives of WP3 are to establish a community of excellence on ER among UNIC and beyond. WP3 focuses on strengthening human capital through enhancing networking between different academics and partner institutions with financial, academic and technical support to these parties. Specific objectives are: 1 to support relevant challenges in collaboration cities and university partners by increasing collaborative research amongst UNIC university partners and beyond. The first UNIC seed fund call received 46 applications and 29 awards were granted. A second seed fund will open during the summer of 2023 to support both traditional and non-traditional scholars. 2 To promote and enhance the development of skills in ER via trainings and workshops. Workshops were organised, e.g. Embedding ER into Teaching and Learning Practices, Gender and Intersectionality Analysis in UNIC, ER in Superdiverse Post-industrial Cities. These activities promoted the development of truly European collaborations of the superdiverse populations of UNIC cities.

Wp4’s main objective is to strengthen the boundary spaces between UNIC and the post-industrial cities, while engaging their citizens in co-creating strategies to achieve truly cross European collaborations. Specific objectives are: 1 Develop UNIC4ER Meets the City framework to foster the co-creation of ER at European level. Eight local ER Roadmaps were developed to foster collaborative initiatives focusing on post-industrial transitions, e.g. inclusion, health, economics, digitalisation, sustainable land use, housing, energy transition, urban mobility and technology. 2 Establish the UNIC Centre for City Futures (UNIC4ER Post-Industrial Transitions Academy). This Centre has provided the research infrastructure for collaborative projects, and composed teams consisting of researchers, city authorities, citizens, companies, NGOs and multiplier organisations. 3 Demonstrate how university and city collaboration can motor post-industrial transitions, already illustrated by 69 societal partnerships for the cocreation of innovative approaches, 52 partnerships among UNIC universities, and 45 beyond UNIC.

WP5 aims to create an online platform for engaged research comprising of several elements including the Open Science Campus, self-paced training courses for students and researchers in the domain of open science, and certificate course in open science. Specific objectives are: 1 Creation of an Open Science Campus. The digital platform is currently being implemented and it will be finalised before the end of the project. 2 Creation and dissemination of self-paced e-learning module for Open Science and certificate program for Open Science in order to promote open science practice in academic environment already attended by more than hundreds of participants in open science skills trainings.

WP6 is characterised by systematically monitoring and evaluating the UNIC4ER’s engaged research activities. Specific objectives are: 1 Increasing visibility of Engaged Research via the UNIC Pulse Dashboard for Engaged Research. This virtual tool allows to show visible and publicly outcomes achieved. The Pulse Dashboard brings together under one single platform 2757 publications, 3260 datasets and 33 policy documents. 2 Contributing to academic and non-academic understanding of engaged research. For example, UNIC Instagram has obtained more than 3K likes, and more than 30 policy documents have been produced. Moreover, the Open Case Repository guarantees a database publicly accessible and easily searchable of 144 digital events between lectures, debates and learning exercises.
UNIC4ER intended outputs, short-term outcomes, long-term outcomes and impacts are outlined in the attached Logic Model (see attached). This Logic Model is underpinned by Theory of Change and informed by the mapping and learning to date. The key socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications are: 1 A culture of Engaged Research fully embedded within the mission and operations of UNIC cities and universities. 2 Strong research interface between cities and universities thus increasing the capacity of cities to respond to societal challenges and the SDGs. 3 ‘Emplacing’ research in local contexts through deep engagement towards agentic communities & inter- and transdisciplinary connections between economy, society, ecology and culture. 4 Increased democratic competencies and understandings of the research process through participation of citizens, public sector partners, and industry as co-creators. 5 Students are prepared to recognize opportunities and contribute fully within society as reflexive and civically engaged leaders. 6 UNIC Centre for City Futures established as a European Centre of Excellence for engaged research and a European demonstration site on addressing urban challenges & Post-Industrial Transitions. 7Extension of the UNIC network to other two university partners University of Malmo and the University of University of Łódź
UNIC4ER logic model