Make cross-border cooperation sustainable and digital: Universities of Münster and Radboud launch project on staff mobility in times of the COVID-19 pandemic

Staff members of the Universities of Münster and Radboud met happily but exhaust

Staff members of the Universities of Münster and Radboud met happily but exhausted at the German-Dutch border. © Lucia Frowerk

In the current Covid-19 pandemic, international encounters are largely taking place digitally. But there are also creative ideas for such exchanges, as shown by a pilot project of the Universities of Münster and Radboud (Nijmegen, Netherlands). As part of the Erasmus project "Team Travel", staff from both universities set off yesterday (Wednesday, 16 June) on roller skates, bicycles, cargo pedelecs and e-cars to meet at the Dutch border - all in the spirit of "green mobility".

The idea for this open-air event came from the Welcome Centre team of the International Office. "Instead of cancelling the long-standing staff exchanges again or holding another Zoom meeting, we decided on a symbolic, forward-looking project," says Maria Homeyer from the Welcome Centre and project initiator.

Representatives of the Welcome Centre, University Sports, the English Support Office, the Department Personnel Development, the International Graduate School BACCARA and the Battery Research Center MEET took great pleasure in the joint action - even if not everyone went all the way to the border. As a symbol of the cross-border cooperation, there was a joint picnic in the fresh air and a "jersey swap" with the logos of the respective universities - of course, everything in compliance with hygiene rules.

At the same time, an alternative programme took place alongside the sporting event: Staff from both universities used the video platform "gather.town" to enter a conversation with each other. Representatives of WWU IT exchanged ideas with their Dutch colleagues about working methods, processes and challenges, for example in IT security or about the prospects for sustainability at universities.

With the event, the project team draws attention to the fact that internationalisation is also possible in Covid-19 times. "Team travel, i.e. professional exchange at work level, is an important part of the long-standing partnership with Radboud University," says Thomas Böckenholt from the Department Personnel Development and one of the project organisers. "The fact that we were able to organise a digital exchange together and meet at the border this year makes it clear: it is worth every effort to work for the continuation of Team Travel and the partnership of the universities." Maria Homeyer emphasises: "Sustainability and digitalisation play an important role for future international mobility. With this first symbolic event and the second planned Team Travel to the partner university Twente in September this year, we are shining a spotlight on 2022. We hope that 'green mobility' with real job shadowing stays at the respective partner university will be possible next year."

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