November 8-10, 2017
Twice a year, academics, leaders and administrators from Aurora universities meet at one of the member universities' campuses.
On 8-10 November, the 3rd bi-annual Aurora Network gathering will take place at the University of East Anglia, Norwich (UK).
The bi-annual Aurora gatherings consist of:
- A number of parallel thematic workshops, both of the key priorities of the Aurora Network and on other themes that are interesting to all, most or some of the academics/ administrators concerned in the Aurora Network partner universities.
- The Presidents’ meeting, which is the formal general council meeting of the Aurora Network association.
- A plenary meeting at which the various working groups report on their progress, plans and aspirations and at which the strategic development of the Aurora Network of engaged research universities takes shape.
- At the Norwich plenary meeting, the first Aurora Network Diversity & Equality Award will be given out to one of the three nominated projects.
- A plenary Forum Debate; the topic of the Norwich debate will be the role of the Humanities & Social Sciences in today and tomorrow’s society and university.
Programme of Workshops
Below, a link is provided to the overview of workshops. For the majority of these, the convenor stated in the list is already in contact with representatives in the Aurora universities; many of the groups will build their work in Norwich from earlier meetings. However, the workshop meetings do have an open and inclusive character. Any academic, administrator or student from an Aurora Network university with a specific interest in one of the workshop topics is invited to contact the convenor to see if he/she can participate.
Aurora Equality and Diversity Award
Strengthening the Aurora partnership by highlighting best practices in Equality and Diversity across Aurora
The objective of the award is to identify and exchange good practices and advance the Aurora network’s vision of equal opportunities for staff and students, creating a working and learning environment where different perspectives are explicitly valued, and to capitalize on the ability to generate creativity from different perspectives in teaching and in education.
Each Aurora partner nominates 1-3 projects, practices, activities or interventions which have stood out and been successful. This way, best practice can be shared across the partner universities and partners can build on each others strengths in their work on diversity and equality.
Nominations are expected to fulfill one or more of the following criteria: they primarily engage with equality and diversity; advance the equality agenda; provide opportunities for marginalized group; involve stakeholders; support creating transformative change; create respectful environments; emphasize diversity as a strength of the university society; and include innovative methods.
In addition, success criteria focus on the following: ease of implementation and transferability; impact and indication of results; a clear vision; novelty and creativity, along with design and management; and whether they are evidence based or not.
The award itself will include a visit to another Aurora partner to learn from practices established at the host partner, thus further strenghtening co-operation between partners on equality and diversity.
Open Forum Debate
“What will the Humanities and Social Sciences do for us?
Reflections on the role of the humanities and social sciences for the future of humanity and society”
Friday November 10, 2 – 3 pm, Council House, Council Camber
Scepticism – from politicians and from the man/woman in the street – about the added value of universities for ordinary taxpayers is there for all to see. And this focuses far more on the Social Sciences and Humanities than on disciplines like Science, Technology, and Health fields. And disciplines like Business & Law, or Teaching Training for that matter, have a much lighter task in explaining their value – as well as their employability prospects.
Academics (and university leaders) can be heard complaining about the lack of priority for Social Sciences and Humanities in national and international funding schemes – such as the European Horizon 2020 programme.
Also, the trend to discard a professor’s 20 years of expertise as ‘just another opinion’ with a simple reference to the post-truth society or to “alternative facts” seem more of a threat to Social Sciences and Humanities than to doctors or engineers.
These threats may be seen across higher education systems in Europe (and beyond), but may be different in their shape – and effective counter-arguments – across the societies in which the universities of the Aurora network are situated.
Time for an OPEN FORUM DEBATE – as part of the Norwich Aurora Biannual (8-10 November 2017) – on the role of the humanities and social sciences for the future of humanity and society.
- Sir Ian Diamond, vice chancellor University of Aberdeen and chairman, British Academy Flagship Skills Project “the Value of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences”
- Ms Sarrah Barrow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of East Anglia
- Mr Gudmundur Halfdanarson, dean of the School of Humanities at the University of Iceland
- Mr Patrick Lévy (incoming president), University Grenoble Alpes
- Ms Margaret Hagen, prorector of research, University of Bergen
- Mr Peter Mascher, vice president International Affairs at McMaster University in Canada and external guest at the Norwich Aurora Biannual
- Anita Raghunath, associate professor English Literature, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
- Marie-Alix Thouaille, PhD candidate and Associate Tutor; School of Art, Media and American Studies, University of East Anglia
For a good debate, it is essential to have contradicting arguments which yet may both have merit by substantial groups in the audience. Too often, debates become boring because everybody basically agrees with one another – or because people are too polite to contradict one another. The two co-facilitators will join forces to avoid both traps.
“Why are we discussing this topic and not another?”
“Should we just do better showing how important we are?”
“Could we do better in helping to find real solutions to real problems?”
“Is there future for us also in a monodisciplinary approach?”
“Are Humanities & Social Sciences still trying to ‘be like science’ and failing at it?”
Yuval Noah Harari in his ‘Homo Deus”:
“… the study of history above all aims to make us aware of possibilities we don’t normally consider. Historians study the past not in order to repeat it, but to be liberated from it.”
“The cold hand of the past (…) grips us by the neck and directs our gaze towards a single future. “
“Studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past.”