17th DRC (Danube Rectors’ Conference) Summer School on Regional Cooperation

10 July - 16 July 2022 /  Vienna, Austria

"Shaping Tomorrow's Research: What Future for Academia in the Danube Region?"


The 17th DRC Summer School on “Shaping Tomorrow's Research: What Future for Academia in the Danube Region?” was hosted by the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) in Vienna. Unfortunately, due to the senseless and unjustified Russian war on Ukraine, the Summer School could not take place as originally planned at the Uzhhorod National University in Ukraine. However, learning, volunteering, and mobility in the shadow of the war have been among the focus topics.


The participants discussed the future of academia in the Danube Region and how University autonomy and academic freedom can be guaranteed, students’ engagement can be improved and policy-making through innovative learning methods can be promoted. At the same time, the Summer School aimed to strengthen the ties among the countries of the region through the cooperation of young students and researchers.

The Summer School 2022 started with welcome remarks from Prof. Zdravko Kačič, DRC President and Rector of University of Maribor, and from Prof. Volodymyr Smolanka, Rector of Uzhhorod National University. The following opening speeches by Mag. Sebastian Schäffer, DRC Secretary General and IDM Managing Director, and Dr. Zoltán Vörös, Assistant Professor at University of Pécs, then set the tone for the whole week in Vienna: "We might come from different regions, borders still exist, but we can be great friends and colleagues and work together."

We are very delighted that Professor Shalini Randeria, President and Rector of the Central European University (CEU) honoured us by her presence as keynote speaker on Monday, 11th July 2022 on the issue of "Embattled Universities: Academic Freedom and Democratic Backsliding". Her input on establishing and dismanteling of democratic institutions as well as on the case of the CEU as a university in exile in Central and Eastern Europe constituted an excellent foundation for the upcoming debates and discussions.

The organizers Sebastian Schäffer, Daniel Martínek and Zoltán Vörös with Prof. Shalini Randeria, President and Rector of CEU.

During the lectures the participants had the opportunity to hear amongst others about career opportunities for youth in academia, student agency in higher education, as well as knowledge sharing in education, university in the time of war or illiberal science policy posing a threat to academic freedom.




Topics of the 17th DRC Summer School:


1. Youth in academia – passive drivers or listeners for change?

2. University autonomy and academic freedom – a regional perspective?

3. Education for a brighter future – the role of research in policy-making

4. Learning and mobility in the shadow of war – considerations and challenges



In the workshop sessions the participants, on the one hand, had the opportunity to familiarize with Podcast production. Podcasts nowadays can be seen as channels which bring science closer to the public and which have become popular among research institutions. Supported by IDM Research Associate Emma Hontebeyrie and Assistant Editor Melanie Jaindl, the Summer School participants defined and recorded the most burning issues, analyzed the main challenges and chances with regards to the four thematic areas and also envisioned solutions to tackle these challenges. Together with off-the-cuff interviews, the content produced will be part of the next IDM Podcast - Central Europe Explained season!


On the other hand, the participants very actively took part in the feedback sessions on the DRC Strategic Foresight project and engaged in fruitful discussions on the project's topics of University Autonomy and GovernanceScience and Learning in Digital EraScientific Research for European Decision-Making and employability of students/early-stage researchers. By integrating the Strategic Foresighters into the 17th DRC Summer School, an inspiring exchange between the participating university students, young scientists and early-stage researchers was created. Thereby, new perspectives und inspirations were gathered. Besides, the participants of the Strategic Foresight Project received personal feedback on their current writings by Enora Bennetot Pruvot



However, the DRC Summer School focuses not only on the research activities, but also on better understanding of the region where the event takes place. For this reason, a field trip to the picturesque Wachau valley in Lower Austria, including a boat cruise and a visit of a traditional Heuriger, was organized. The participants did not only have the chance to get to know each other better, but also to discover the Austrian cuisine.


On Friday, a guided city tour of Vienna - in order to learn more about the historical buildings and longstanding connections of the Austrian capital - and the ensuing farewell dinner were also part of the programme. By all these occasions, there was a friendly environment among the participants, encouraging the exchange of ideas and already promoting future collaboration between the young researchers.

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