December 22, 2022

Reflections about the past and a look to the future

Season’s greetings to all our fellow members in the Young European Research Universities Network.

As 2022 draws to a close, we are looking back on what was a pivotal year in the history of University of Limerick, which is marking its 50th anniversary.

It is fitting too that it comes 50 years since Ireland joined the EU and UL was founded as a European university as the first in Ireland to offer European Studies at undergraduate level and launched the first MA in European Integration.

This year marks our first full year as a member of YERUN and we feel privileged to be included among the ranks of a cluster of highly ranked, young research universities in Europe.

Indeed, one of our wishes for 2023 will be to see the continued thriving of the network and we look forward to hosting the YERUN General Assembly on our wonderful campus next year.

As members of YERUN and as a research led-University, there is vital need to advance coordinated efforts to address the grand challenges facing society in imaginative and sustainable ways.

The tasks ahead of us all and no less here in UL are to implement our ambitious Sustainability Framework 2030 to make our contribution in facing the many urgent global challenges we face; climate change and planetary health and a war in Europe adding to ongoing military conflicts with increased migration and growing challenges associated with energy, food and water security and badly disrupted supply chains.

Over-production and consumption in parts of the world, the plastic pollution of the oceans and a mounting global waste problem, which, when teamed with the extinction of many wildlife and plant species, clearly signal that we simply cannot be too passive about our future – thinking five to 10 years ahead is too short-sighted.

 It is not easy or comfortable to fully envisage the worst-case scenario and feel like we are operating under a threat but as a university community and as society we have no choice.

We need viable long-term plans and the ability to learn and pivot as we turn plans into concrete actions with impact.

YERUN has to be a key player in how the European research landscape is being transformed and how the respective impact is being evaluated and a joint engagement of the YERUN group for a transformation of teaching to facilitate future looking approaches in cooperation with governments, industry and civil society is also vital.

It was something of a relief and brought much joy to our community here and further afield that our full complement of students was able to join us back fully face to face this academic year so that they were able to experience that ‘whole of learning’ again.

That is not to say that we have not and will not continue to face challenges, but we must also take the learnings of the last couple of years and apply them.

2023 will see University of Limerick chair the Irish Universities Association, continue our 50th celebrations, further develop our City Centre Campus and advance our work on the sustainability framework – as well as further leading in our research activity and initiatives to transform education.

Ahead of that, I wish all the members of the YERUN network every good wish for a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit.

University of Limerick President, Professor Kerstin Mey.

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