Less than twenty years from now, can you imagine what our ever-shifting world will look like? Will knowledge, science and research take their rightful place in this world as seekers of truth and understanding? And what role will universities play in this process as research initiators, science bearers and knowledge brokers?
Group of university students, early-stage researchers and young scientists coming from ten countries of the Danube Region conducted a strategic foresight and projected various future scenarios regarding the world of science, university and academia in the region of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in the year of 2040.
Find out more about the project here.
Download and read the project report below.
Between its source in the Black Forest and its mouth on the Black Sea, the Danube traverses 2,872 kilometres and shares shores with ten countries. The Danube Rectors' Conference (DRC) is a strong network of almost 70 universities in this region. Our aim is to improve higher education in teaching and research, and the advancement of our member universities by establishing sustainable contacts.
The DRC is Affiliate member of the European University Association (EUA)
See below the latest news and browse in our archive.
For news from our Presidency, please click here.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE DANUBE HIGHER EDUCATION AREA IN CONDITIONS OF RECOVERY
Embracing the European programme for digitalisation, the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC) meets this year to discuss the main pillars of digital transformation in light of the green deal of a unified Europe, with an emphasis on resilience and on the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In parallel, participants of the first DRC Initiative Fund as well as of DRC Strategic Foresight project will meet with the winners of the Danubius Young Scientist Awards 2022 and present to their universities’ rectors their view on Open Science from the perspective of Danube region’s doctoral students and young researchers, who are in part responsible for the future of the region.
The 2022 Annual Conference of the Danube Rectors' Conference takes place at the University of Maribor, Slovenia, on 9.-11. November 2022.
For more information, please visit our dedicated webpage The 2022 DRC Annual Meeting.
Friedrich Faulhammer (*1963) studied law at the University of Vienna. He worked there from 1985 to 1990 at the Institute for Legal History as well as in the legal department of the University Directorate and moved to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research in 1990. In 2005, he became Section Head of the Higher Education Section in the Federal Ministry of Science and Research and served as its Secretary General from 2009. During his more than two decades as a civil servant of the Republic of Austria, Faulhammer has been instrumental in shaping Austrian and European higher education policy, including the implementation of the Universities Act 2002.
Friedrich Faulhammer has been Rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems (Danube University Krems) since 2013. In this function, Faulhammer was appointed for his third term of office until 2025 by the Senate and University Council in 2020. Important milestones in the further development of the University for Continuing Education Krems, which was founded in 1995, have been reached during his tenure as Rector, such as its complete integration into the Austrian University Act, the establishment of PhD studies on the basis of the right to award doctorates and, most recently, the implementation of the Austrian continuing education reform.
The University for Continuing Education Krems has a strong international orientation towards Europe, especially towards Central Europe and the Danube region. This orientation is reflected in the university's memberships in the European University Association and the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC). In 2016, Friedrich Faulhammer was elected President of the DRC for the first time by the General Assembly. Faulhammer used his term of office in 2017 and 2018 to concretise the universities' contribution to the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region by setting up transdisciplinary research and networking projects and to anchor the Danube Rectors’ Conference as a stakeholder at the European level. On 11 November, the General Assembly of the Danube Rectors’ Conference re-elected Friedrich Faulhammer as President at its meeting in Maribor. Faulhammer aims to continue to position the Danube Rectors’ Conference as a strong partner in the implementation of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region in order to strengthen the contributions of science and research to the positive development of the regions along the Danube.
Friedrich Faulhammer is also committed to this important European region within the Vienna-based Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM). After being appointed to the IDM's board in 2019, Faulhammer took over as vice-chair in 2020. In October 2022, he was elected as the new Chair at the Institute's General Assembly. The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) is a regional think tank on an association basis, financed mainly by public funds. Founded in 1953, the institute conducts research and works with a geographical focus on the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, especially the Danube region. As the new chairman for the next three years, Faulhammer aims to focus on close cooperation between research and society. In doing so, IDM and the University for Continuing Education Krems will further deepen their long-standing cooperation. Friedrich Faulhammer's other functions include membership of the University Council of the Vienna University of Teacher Education since 2021 and membership of the Board of the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG) since 2018. The LBG is a research institution and operates the 19 Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes.
Following the elections of the new presidency during the DRC General Assembly on 11 November 2022, we gladly announce the new DRC Presidency for the period 2023-2024.
Beginning with 1 January 2023, Mag. Friedrich Faulhammer, Rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems, takes over the position of DRC President. The role of the new Vice-Presidents will be assumed by former DRC President Prof. Dr. Zdravko Kačič, Rector of the University of Maribor, and Prof. Dr. Daniel David, Rector of the Babeş-Bolyai University.
We would like to congratulate the newly elected Presidency and are looking forward to the cooperation during the upcoming two years. We are confident the members of the new Presidency will continue DRC’s mission to strengthen the ties among its members and through the continuation of various initiatives to further increase DRC‘s presence in the Danube Region and beyond.
Following the decision of DRC General Assembly on 11 November 2022, the DRC is pleased to announce the election of former DRC President and Vice-President Ivanka Popović as DRC Acting Honorary President. We would like to thank Prof. Popović for all efforts and valuable contribution in her previous roles within DRC Presidency and look forward to continuing the successful cooperation in the upcoming years!
We are also glad to announce that Ivanka Popović has also been nominated for the position of EUA President. The DRC Presidency fully supports her nomination as it is convinced that her election as EUA president would not only strengthen the voice of universities from Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, but she would firmly represent and promote the interests of the EUA members.
With much esteem, we would like to thank Miroslav Vesković for his work and contribution during his term as Acting Honorary President. With a feeling of gratitude and appreciation, we look back on all his valuable insights and ideas that shaped the developments of DRC in the past years. On behalf of DRC Presidency, we wish Miroslav Vesković all the best in his future and a successful continuation of his dedicated support of higher education and research in the Danube Region and beyond!
The Russian invasion on Ukraine had devastating consequences for the higher education. The IDM together with the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC) decided to grant two Ukrainian students or early-career researchers a fellowship.
The fellowship gives the recipient the possibility to complete research on their MA or PhD thesis. If necessary, IDM/DRC supports the fellow in finding a supervisor. The fellowship holder also has the opportunity to gain insights into the work of IDM as a non-university research institute.
The IDM therefore provides a workplace and invites the student to participate in the activities of the Institute as well as to contribute to the work of IDM team members.
The first fellow is Olga Kyrychenko who is a PhD student at Odesa Mechnikov National University in the Department of International Economic Relations. Prior to that Olga graduated from the Odesa State Ecological University (Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection). From 2007 until 2021 she had worked as Managing Production Coordinator at Shipmodelling Centre “Albatros” ltd . Olga was born in Odesa. She is married and has a 5-year-old son.
Our second fellow is Anastasiya Lendel, a student at the Uzhhorod National University. She is also studying International Business at the University of Ljubljana. Anastasiya is fluent in 4 languages, loves writing poems and has 14-year experience of professional dancing.
“From Fictional to Functioning Democracy Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe (FIFUDEM)”
Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) in cooperation with Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC)
The Rationale behind the accepted project proposal was based on the observation that liberal democracy has been eroding for years, so that in some cases we could speak of fictional instead of functioning elements of democracies. Whereas the project focuses specifically on the region of Central East and Southeast Europe, events during the project period such as the attack of the US Capitol or the severe repression of protesters in Hong Kong by the authorities shed light on the global dimension of the problem.
Threats such as populism, attacks on the separation of powers as well as corruption are shared by both young and consolidated democracies. Nevertheless, countries of the Danube Region face region-specific issues regarding their geopolitical position, their historical legacies and non at least the existing socio-economic disparities between old and new EU member states and those waiting in limbo for potential EU accession.
Based on this status quo, present project aimed to scrutinize the contexts and causes of so-called illiberal, respectively fictional democracy, to develop concepts and strategies of strengthening liberal, respectively functioning democracy and its functioning political communication as well as active citizenship in an inclusive and participatory EU. Furthermore, it followed the goal to disseminate the project’s findings through awareness raising activities, events and publications for different target groups on the local, regional, national, international and EU level.
The consortium aimed to conduct research on European integration and enlargement in its focus region and disseminating the project’s results through the international IDM publications, events, and network as well as through the network of the IDM project partner, the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC), including 65 university members. All these various activities aimed to affect various segments of the public discourse on the importance of strengthening liberal and functioning democracy and to support active citizenship in an inclusive and participatory European Union.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard and required a high level of adaptability to keep track with the goals of the project. While some activities had to be cancelled, particularly those outside of Austria, new digital formats were developed and offered the chance to connect people from various countries despite lockdowns and travel restrictions. In early 2022, when the pandemic seemed to finally calm down a bit thanks to vaccinations, the next crisis hit. With the Russian attack on Ukraine, some project activities had to be adapted once again.
Some results of the project regarding Publications are IDM Info, which is the print newsletter of the IDM and is published four times a year with updates on the project in various issues during the project period; the IDM’s academic journal "Der Donauraum", which brings together contributions from experts in the fields of political science and communication studies, international relations, contemporary history and sociology and was conventionalized based on the FIFUDEM kickoff conference in January 2021; The IDM Policy Paper Series (IDM PPS) deals at regular intervals with current political issues with a focus on the Danube region, Central and South Eastern Europe.
Some of the events that took place during the Project are: Kickoff Conference 2020, Young Scholars Forum 2020, Train the trainer seminar 2021/2022, DRC Annual Meeting 2021, IDM@GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum 2022, DRC Summer School 2022, Final Conference 2022, 5 Democracy Talks.
During the Final Conference in July 2022, project partners hosted a panel discussion on concrete actions for democracies in Europe. The 5th Democracy Talk entitled "Let's talk about anger management!" focused about forms of mobilisation and engagement. Thomas Prorok, panelist and Managing Director of the Centre for Public Administration Research (KDZ) in Vienna, brought up the idea of a "Greenpeace for Democracy". He stated that Europe, particularly the Danube Region, would need a membership-based international organisation similar to established civil society organisations in the areas of environment or Human Rights. Although starting as a small grassroot activist network, International Non Governmental Organisations (INGOs) such as Greenpeace managed to institutionalize and transnationalize to a certain level without losing certain national and regional autonomy and embeddedness. Based on strategic professioal campaigns they are able to mobilise a broad and diverse pool of followers. Whereas Greenpeace is considered an influential actor on supra-national levels such as the EU institutions, practice lobbying and are very active in scientific research, they have not neglected to organise local actions such as occupations, sit-ins or other media-friendly protest activities. We suggest to further investigate the successes and constraints of INGOs, to identify best practices for a new movement or organisation - similar to "Greenpeace for Democracy" - that could learn from past successes and failures. Such research could provide the basis of a more media-affected communications and a campaign-oriented way of democracy promotion e.g. by utilizing storytelling methods and other mobilisation strategies known from Social Movement Research. This would require to deconstruct the abstract topic of democracy to more tangible pillars (media freedom, inclusion, participation, etc.) and to further develop key stories and target groups for a more emotionalized and personalized approach. Also, Greenpeace's success is based on concrete wins against certain policies or projects. Therefore a democracy-focused INGO would need to first identify concrete cases of democratic backsliding, and act very goal-oriented against such attacks (e.g. on the rule of law). Successes need to be measured and made visible which poses a challenge for many existing actors and projects.
You can check out the Final Report here: