A call about: one year of EUniwell and what it can offer you
The European University for Well-Being (EUniWell), an alliance of seven European universities including Leiden University, is celebrating its first anniversary! All employees and students are invited to the online FestiWell event to celebrate this landmark together. Reason enough to call Melissa Koops, Adviser and Coordinator International Affairs Unit at SAZ and involved in the initiative from the very beginning.
Melissa, EUniWell has existed for a year now, congratulations! What are you most proud of?
‘I am very proud of the firm commitment of so many people and all their efforts, and what we have achieved together from nothing in such a short time. Even before we started, four hundred employees and students from our institutions came together in a short time to get started, all of them fired with enthusiasm. And it has been an enormous success: within a year, two applications were approved by the European Commission, contributing a total of seven million euros to the initiative. The governance structure is in place and there are more than thirty working groups actively working on the well-being themes: from SDG-related research to student welfare and from curriculum development to career opportunities for young researchers'.
And this in a year that was overshadowed by Corona....
‘Yes, the plans continued at full speed, and new initiatives started too. And that was despite the high pressure of work and the challenges posed by working from home, among other things. Fortunately, because the theme of well-being was more relevant than ever, both during the pandemic and now. This was also nicely reflected in the Opening of the Academic Year of Leiden University'.
How do you feel personally connected to the theme and objectives of EUniWell?
'The SDG themes to which EUniWell is committed, such as Individual and Social Well-being (linked to SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), are more important than ever. Challenges such as social inequality, where vulnerable people in society have become even more vulnerable in the past year, move me. It makes it even more important to give everyone a good basis, including through education. This is something we contribute to with our initiatives in the field of Teacher Education (linked to SDG 4, Quality Education). But EUniWell goes further: we not only contribute to society through scientific research, but also translate the initiatives into how we can make things better for ourselves. Personal well-being, work-life balance: these are important for every employee and every student. The organisational culture also plays a major role here. Because each university in the alliance makes its own contribution based on its own expertise, we complement each other and we are really making good progress together.’
Many colleagues and students have already contributed to EUniWell. Do you have any advice for colleagues who also want to become part of this network?
‘Join the FestiWell event online! On 19 and 20 October, we will talk about "Taking Well-Being Forward", where we are in the field of research and education, what the ambitions are and what are our current initiatives. Just to give you a sneak preview: a new seed fund call is coming up to stimulate initiatives from all departments and teams of our universities. This is your chance to explore the opportunities that the various themes offer you as a teacher, researcher or supporter the chance to participate. And of course: celebrate the one-year anniversary of EUniWell with us!
EUniWell is the European University for Well-Being. It is an initiative that brings together seven different universities in Europe: Leiden, Birmingham, Cologne, Florence, Linneaus, Nantes and Semmelweis. This alliance offers students, researchers and teachers new, international opportunities to cooperate and develop education and research in the field of well-being.
There is a lot happening within Leiden University. The websites are filled with news on a daily basis. In the section 'A call about' we ask one of our employees to tell us more about a relevant and topical subject within the university. The answers give you more insight into the facts, but above all give you more personal background information. What was fun or frustrating? What was remarkable? What was good and what was bad? You can read all about it in 'A call about'.