CIVIS, the European Civic University, is a European University Alliance that brings together 10 research higher education institutions across Europe (Aix-Marseille Université, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, University of Bucharest, Université libre de Bruxelles, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Sapienza Università di Roma, Stockholm University, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, University of Glasgow, Paris Lodron University of Salzburg and University of Lausanne).
Its aim is to help reduce inequalities, increase access to quality training and create real opportunities for success for all students and staff of the members universities.
One of the main objectives of CIVIS is to facilitate cooperation between the Mediterranean and African regions. A work package was dedicated to facilitating cooperative actions. Following the successful search for partner universities and the signing of the strategic partnership agreements in March 2021 [(Université Hassan II de Casablanca (Morocco); Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal); Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique); Makerere University (Uganda); University of Sfax (Tunisia); University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)], the partnership launched a series of actions to facilitate such enhanced cooperation between the Hubs and the African and Mediterranean partners.
A call for pilot activities was established in November 2021 with the objective of supporting seed funding projects that may lead to future education and research collaboration. All funded projects included at least one of the following criteria: the development and implementation of initial joint projects that should have the potential to be the basis for future collaborations; funding staff skills to write a joint funding application to third parties; visiting African partners to explore or plan a collaborative project; or organizing a joint workshop to explore or plan a collaborative project.
Thirteen projects were awarded and implemented in 2022 that included joint summer schools/seminars, several research workshops/research group meetings, as well as meetings to prepare joint funding applications.
In addition, in the summer of 2022, CIVIS launched an official tour of visits to their African strategic partner universities. These meetings on African campuses once again demonstrated the great potential of our partnership, while providing the basis for in-depth discussions on how to realize these possibilities.
The next steps will focus firstly on disseminating existing projects on the CIVIS website where documentation and information can be consulted to serve as potential inspiration for new Mediterranean and African collaborations and partners. Secondly, to provide all available support for future networking activities. Finally, CIVIS will explore ways to continue the provision of seed funding, for projects with African partners in general, and for those specifically dedicated to preparing larger grant applications (e.g. Erasmus+ Capacity Building).