A report from the first Annual TORCH Forum: when European Alliances have a chance to exchange

The first Annual TORCH Forum took place on 2 March 2022 in Budapest and online. Its theme was  “Sustainability in a (post?) pandemic world: Asking the right question on the role of Universities in R&I today”. Over 180 people registered and almost 110 took part in virtual sessions, where European University Alliances discussed how the initiative, and particularly how the SwafS projects that each university has (FIT FORTHEM in FORTHEM) enhanced the R&I capacity of the partnering institutions.

The forum’s sessions were devoted to the following questions:

  •      →     how European Universities could spearhead and maximize R&I in a (post) pandemic world for a better, inclusive and sustainable future,
  •      →     how better bridges between universities / alliances and enterprises / citizens could be built,
  •      →     how research and researchers could be assessed in a fair and comprehensive manner,
  •      →     how academics could be brought together to develop projects that address current challenges and contribute to UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals,
  •      →     how transdisciplinarity,  inclusiveness and transparency of academic work should be adequately pursued,
  •      →     how open science practices could be mainstreamed and embraced by a larger portion of the academic community

For more information on the forum, as well as to access the presentations, please follow this link.

FIT FORTHEM Call for Co-creation Pilot Projects - Case Studies Selected for Funding

In the fall 2021, FIT FORTHEM WP 5 organized a call for co-creation pilot projects for the seven FORTHEM Labs to propose innovative case studies piloting transformative actions in the form of explicitly elaborated co-creation activities.

The five Case Studies Selected for Funding are as follows:

IncluKIT: Training tools for people working with migrants in form of a Facilitator’s guide and a Training kit (physical and online format) to work on cultural differences with migrants.

PAFARGO: Guidance for regional governments and administration – How to do foreign policy at the regional level in the EU – manual/tutorial. Module/course for the European Studies regarding paradiplomacy.

MSCEDU: Open Access video manuals on how-to-do Citizen Science Project in English, Polish, Finnish, Spanish/Catalan, German and Italian.

3D Virtual Paleontology: 3D models of geological outcrops, and macro- and micro- fossils from the Mesozoic sedimentary sequences in the Molinos area used in FORTHEM Digital Academy course and as display materials in two local museums.

CreaLab: A new co-creation methodology to be replicated in any collaborative project. Data sharing and joint programs making culture the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

The topics of each pilot case study are societally relevant, solving some challenges in an innovative and inclusive way. Co-creation approach gives the opportunity for the Labs to widen the impact of their research towards several stakeholder groups, the regional and local ecosystem and, if successful, even create new products, models, and services to society. By the end of November 2023, the results of these innovative co-creation projects will be published.

Podcasts - a Convenient Way to Find Out More about Fit Forthem

The Podcast of FIT FORTHEM - FIT for EUROPE - features already its "Episode 3 Towards a reform of the research assessment in Europe"

In our third episode, Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska and Stankomir Nicieja talk about the recent EU scoping report "Towards a reform of the research assessment" of the European Commission. The idea of this refom is to promote a more flexible system that takes into account the diversity of scientific outputs and activities rather than to rely solely on bibliometric indicators. In addition to possible new assessment categories within this reform, FIT FORTHEM shares the challenge of implementing such a system and the associated institutional requirements.

Don't miss also the previous episodes:

  ҉   Episode 2 What does (FIT) FORTHEM have to offer to researchers and research managers

  ҉    Episode 1 What is FIT FORTHEM?

To listen, choose your favourite podcast media and get FIT for EUROPE SpotifyGoogle podcast; DeezerWeb player

The Book on Good Practices in R&I is Out Now!

The new year of FIT FORTHEM project starts with good news. The book on existing best practices developed in FORTHEM universities regarding the key research areas identified has been published.The content has been coordinated by María D. Pitarch-Garrido and Isabel Mendoza-Poudereux and the book has been published by the Publishing House of the Universitat de València. The book deals with the important topics of internationalisation, open science, co-creation with the social and business ecosystem, and communication of science. The book coordinators were supported by all different universities of the Alliance - the list of collaborators exceeds 30 experts. The book represents an unique collection of 86 cases of good practices in the FORTHEM alliance. To increase the research impact, to ensure fair and immediate access to knowledge and information, as well as to showcase the results of a project funded within Horizon 2020, the book has been published Open Access. You can download the book here: FORTHEM Alliance Universities’ Selected Good Practices in R&I Towards a European University.

Getting connected – FIT FORTHEM tandem and job shadowing opportunities

Working together in an international and European environment can be very productive and stimulating if one is aware of the cultural differences and how to bridge them. What better way is there for a good understanding of how things work in other organizations and countries than mutual exchange with your international colleagues? If you are looking for a tandem-partner or if you want to offer a job shadowing opportunity, please get in contact with us (fitforthem@uni-mainz.de) – any form of collaboration and interaction is welcome.

By forming trans-institutional and trans-sectoral tandems and working groups of experts in the same or complementary fields in Research & Innovation (management) we can build a strong and resilient network for upcoming challenges of the future.

Target group: project managers, managers of departments, core facilities, research infrastructure or international offices at one of the FORTHEM partner organizations, researchers interested in R&I activities. Also welcome are stakeholders in industry or society, who want to get a better understanding of work processes and the way of thinking of their international partners as well as students e.g. looking for a chance to polish their language skills and experience the European spirit.

Groups/tandems should be active for at least 6 months. Staff members may apply for ERASMUS+ short term mobility funds.

Find more details about how to arrange a tandem or a working group 



"FORTHEM in Brussels" - first digital workshop with the Alliance regions

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021 a first digital kick-off workshop with representatives of all the seven Alliance regions took place upon the joint invitation of the Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to the Federal Government and to the European Union and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).

The event was co-organized by Martina Krebs, Department for European and International Cooperation of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Chancellery, and Nicole Birkle, FIT FORTHEM Managing Coordinator.

For more information, please see this news post.

Virtual workshop: Digital transformation in societies

Universities of Jyväskylä and Valencia in FORTHEM Alliance are organizing a free-of-charge virtual workshop to network and share ideas in the digitalization of societies on Thursday, June 17th at 10-14 CET. This workshop serves as a kick off for sharing ideas, networking and starting new collaborations in different fields. You’ll get to meet and network with experts from the FORTHEM universities - and we hope to attract people from private companies, public organizations, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate collaboration. 

For more information please see this news post.


JGU Mainz starts a roadshow through the university to inform about the current state-of-performance in FORTHEM and the new FIT FORTHEM project!

It's half-time in FORTHEM! For 1.5 years, the seven partner universities have been working on a lasting partnership, a real European University. Exchange and cooperation with non-academic partners are on the agenda, but also questions about joint research agendas and the shared use of human and infrastructural resources play a central role. Besides the main project funded by ERASMUS plus, a new Horizon 2020 project – FIT FORTHEM, was obtained and kicked-off in January.

This results in a wide range of opportunities and possibilities for participation for researchers, teachers, students and staff. Dr. Tanja Herrmann and Dr. Nicole Birkle from JGU international office and Research Services present these to the JGU departments and other core committees and facilities together with researcher and students who are already involved.

A roadshow through the departments and core committees and facilities of the University offers the opportunity to get to promote the activities of the FORTHEM Alliance, including the new project FIT FORTHEM, even better and, above all, make the appropriate key players visible for people interested in getting involved in the FORTHEM actions. 

Nicole Birkle, Tanja Herrmann, Melanie Groß, Nina Straub


Join us at a virtual workshop to brainstorm novel citizen science and science education! 

Tuesday,  April 27, 2021, 11:00-15:00 CET / 12:00-16:00 EET. 

University of Jyväskylä is organizing a free-of-charge virtual workshop Science as a civic skill – Citizen Science in schools.  Join us to learn and share new ideas to develop citizen science and science education. Additionally, you get to meet and network with colleagues and experts from several fields. The language of the workshop is English.  

Citizen science is scientific research conducted, partly or in whole, by ordinary people. In open science, citizen science is seen as a way to increase reliability, efficacy, rectitude and responsiveness of science in relation to societal challenges.   

The workshop kicks off by Mankola School’s introduction about the Citizen Science-pilot that they conducted together with the University of Jyväskylä last year. Pupils and teachers will demonstrate how they conducted the pilot and what outputs they developed in research of multilingualism. The pilot was guided by Multilingualism in School and Higher Education FORTHEM Lab expert group.  

After the introduction, we hope that the participants will split into smaller workshop groups where they will brainstorm on the development of citizen science and science education as part of education and society along the following themes:  

Citizen science in schools – Utilizing and developing the model   

  • How could schools utilize citizen science? How do citizen science and scientific literacy support the objectives of the core curriculum? 

Developing digital learning materials  

  • What kind of learning material would support science education in school? Where and how would the learning material be available?  

Organizing events and hands-on workshops related to citizen science   

  • What kind of events and hands-on workshops would promote citizen science and science education? How and where would those be organized?   

Extreme citizen science for multilingualism research   

  • How to do research about multilingualism together with the society based on their needs? How to involve all actors of the society in the entire research process?   

At the end of the event, there will be a joint wrap-up of each workshop group with planning for future collaboration. Please find the agenda and schedule of the workshop in the invitation.  

The workshop is for all who are interested in citizen science, for people who work with education, digital learning material production, science popularization and event organization, as well as for actors within non-formal education, science centers, libraries, museums and media. Scholars and students who work on multilingualism are welcome to join us.  

Register to the workshop by April 23, 2021 here. You will receive the link to the event upon registration by email.  

More info:  Mira Väyrynen   mira.j.vayrynen@jyu.fi   

University of Jyväskylä  

+35846 920 5161   

New ! FIT FORTHEM online workshop series for staff, faculty, students and guests 

Professional Research Management in Multicultural Exchange 

You are a research manager, technical or administrative officer supporting research teams at one of the FORTHEM partner organizations and want to learn more about interculturality and professional approaches in the field? You are a researcher confronted with the complexity of implementing research projects requiring very strong management skills? You are a student considering a career either in academia or in research management? If so, join our new workshop series!

Cooperation in a European and international context works smoothly if project partners know each other well. Understanding the possibilities and limits of the other, and acknowledging and addressing cultural differences, are the cornerstones of such partnerships. This applies to the interaction of individuals, institutions, disciplines and sectors. In this workshop series, we want to exchange knowledge on key topics in research management, identify best practices, prepare staff and faculty to adapt to a multicultural environment, and demonstrate how to professionally meet the challenges in future joint research and innovation activities.  

We will discuss a broad selection of topics, ranging from the management of European research projects to new forms of science communication and co-creation, or concepts of a more fruitful integration of multiple disciplines and sectors in research and innovation activities.  

First workshops to be announced soon.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

FIT FORTHEM kicks off virtually

In a two-days intensive exchange the FORTHEM Alliance officially launched its new EU-project FIT FORTHEM - Fostering Institutional Transformation of R&I Policies in European Universities, funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Program of the European Union under the Grant Agreement 101017248.

On January 25 and 26, 2021 more than 50 delegates of the seven FORTHEM partner universities, Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz Germany (JGU), University of Burgundy in France (UB), University of Jyväskylä in Finland (JYU), University of Opole in Poland (UO), University of Palermo in Italy (UNIPA), University of Latvia in Riga (UL) and University of València in Spain (UVEG), came together in a virtual meeting to officially start their joint activities to strengthen their research and innovation dimension, and to pave the way for future rich collaboration and co-creation.

On day one, warm welcome notes were given by the Coordinator of the FORTHEM Alliance, JGU Vice President for Learning and Teaching  Prof. Dr. Stephan Jolie, and the Coordinator of FIT FORTHEM, Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller-Stach, JGU Vice President for Research and Early Career Academics, followed by special contributions from the Policy Officer, and representative of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, Stijn Delaure, as well as the Project Officer Charles de Chefdebien  and the Financial Officer, Isabelle de Meeus d‘Argenteuil  from the Research Executive Agency. The guests highlighted the role of the European University Network to further develop both the European Education Area and the Research Area, and to actively contribute to transformation processes. They also provided deep insight into regulations and conditions related to the implementation of the project.

During the first regular meeting of the FIT FORTHEM General Assembly, staffed with representatives of university administrators, high-level professionals, and student representatives,  Dr. Timo Taskinen (JYU) was elected as vice-chair and Prof. Dr. Fabrizio D’Avenia (UNIPA) as the person responsible to promote a comprehensive integration of FORTHEM and FIT FORTHEM, .

Top-level candidates were nominated for the External Advisory Board of the FIT FORTHEM project by the respective partners. All prospective members shall be inaugurated shortly to support the joint activities and to give advice on their implementation. Names and profiles of these renowned experts from different fields will be presented to the public as soon as officially confirmed.

Day two of the meeting was fully dedicated to the work packages and their realization. Work package leaders Dr. Nicole Birkle (JGU), Dr. María D. Pitarch (UVEG), Prof. Dr. Fabrizio D'Avenia (UNIPA), Dr. Riikka Reitzer (JYU), Prof. Dr. Frédéric Debeaufort  (UB), and Prof. Dr. Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska  (UO), shared their ideas on how to get started the future joint activities and strongly encouraged all participants to critically contribute to the inspiring follow-up discussions.

The kick-off event demonstrated the tremendous commitment of all organizations and actors involved and provided a successful initial impetus for FIT FORTHEM.

Under the Grant Agreement No: 101017248