AURORA is a network of European research universities working towards creating universities of the future with systematic pedagogical development and innovation to meet current societal challenges.
Aurora aims to graduate students with the competencies and mindset necessary for future generations to thrive in ever-changing communities and a dynamic labour market. Emphasis is, furthermore, placed on students acquiring entrepreneurial and innovative skills, thus developing the mindset and drive needed to tackle the numerous societal changes the world currently faces.
“The Aurora collaboration is an ambitious project that has been under development for years. The first phase of the project is been characterised by a lot of work on behalf of the universities staff; administrative and academic alike, to align processes in different institutions and find common ground for university collaboration,” says Sandra Berg Cepero, Aurora project manager at the University of Iceland’s Division of Academic Affairs and Task Team leader for Teaching for Societal Impact. Teams were formed and collaborative projects were defined. Sandra says that the next phase in the collaboration will revolve more around the substance, the actual work of creating Aurora courses, creating academic connections between the universities, and work- and pedagogical development among the teaching staff. Emphasis will also be placed on promotional material on educational vision and Aurora’s ideals. “Teaching staff is encouraged to keep abreast and can always contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they are interested in Aurora’s pedagogical development or even participate in creating Aurora courses, joint study programmes, or other exciting opportunities this collaboration entails.”
The collaborative platform will be digital and, first and foremost, based on a virtual campus where students and staff will have mobility in various fields in diverse forms. Teaching and learning will be executed in the platform, simplifying the design and development of joint courses and degrees in line with the Aurora ideal. To realise its ideals, Aurora has created an educational vision to follow that supports both its goals and execution.
The Aurora educational vision is based on four main pillars; the UN Sustainable Development Goals, pedagogical development, students’ competencies, and the internationalisation of study programmes, and the network universities are supposed to:
University of the future
Aurora is comprised of ten universities. Diverse institutions in design and operation see the benefits of joining forces for societal impact and making use of progress in technology to strengthen education, teaching, and research. Thus, the universities’ staff can learn about new teaching methods, participate in events abroad, attract international students to their courses, and find European collaborators in research and teaching.
The University of Iceland has been active in the network since its founding in 2016. One of its focuses has been increasing diversity in study selection and strengthening collaboration and innovation in teaching and learning. This is manifested in courses offered by some universities but open to all Aurora university students. Teaching staff at the University of Iceland has, furthermore, had the opportunity to attend Aurora workshops in pedagogical development, an important opportunity for career development. “These teaching methods and tools will provide opportunities for pedagogical development with societal changes as the driving force, using modern course design and teaching with internationalisation at the core,” concludes Sandra.