The sunny location of the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) in Piran provided the setting for the 15th Anniversary celebrations and Annual Conference of EMUNI this year, the theme of which was New Models for Sustainable Universities: Adapting to Change. 

From 8-9 June, more than 100 experts and stakeholders from academia, the business sector and society, as well as policy makers came together to witness EMUNI´s graduation ceremony and the Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Camp (EMIC) Grand Finale before the Conference itself began, featuring 3 panel discussions and much debate regarding the global (and coordinated) effort required to craft a multitude of new models for Sustainable Universities.

8 June kicked off with a series of meetings of EMUNI´s Governing Bodies, including the EMUNI Senate, Management Board and the General Assembly on the University premises.

Later, the anniversary celebrations got underway at Georgios Pastoral Cultural Centre in Piran, where EMUNI staff took to the stage to host the evening´s events, starting with the Conference opening and welcome notes from the following guest speakers: Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux, Chairwoman of the EMUNI Management Board, Meira Hot, Vice President of the Slovenian National Assembly, Marko Štucin, State Secretary, Slovene Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alvaro Albacete, Deputy Secretary General, Division of Higher Education and Research, The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Jernej Širok, Acting Director General, Slovene Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, and Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, the EMUNI President.

Above: Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux and Alvaro Albacete, below left to right: Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, Jernej Širok, Meira Hot and Marko Štucin.

The audience then heard for the first time, EMUNI´s official anthemic poem ´Unity´, which was written and read by Sophie Burton, External Relations and Outreach Manager at EMUNI, accompanied by Intercultural Business Communication (IBC) Masters students, Eslam Badawy Mostafa and Elizaveta Byasova.

Above: The EMUNI Poem

The Graduation Ceremony then took place for students who completed EMUNI´s IBC Masters, with 5 MA graduates from the Class of 2020 stepping up on stage to receive their degrees, 2 with distinction. The Graduation Speech was read by Nehal Nabil Nasef on behalf of all graduating students. Thereafter, Mounir Ghribi, Director of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Blue Economy (CoE-SUBE) at EMUNI and Director of the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS), accompanied by Michele Pipan, Vice-President of OGS, presented the graduating certificates to the 30 students of Summer School. This year´s Summer School, run jointly by OGS and EMUNI, was on ˝Innovative and Transformative Capacity Building for Sustainable Blue Economy in the Mediterranean˝.

Above: The IBC Masters Class of 2020 graduating students left to right: Alaa Almir, Noor Younis, Ahmad Ghadban, Nehal Nabil Nasef and Huthayfa Assi.

Above: Summer School students

Following the Annual Conference ´family´ photo, the EMIC Grand Finale was then live streamed on the EMUNI YouTube Channel, during which the 4 finalists made their final pitch for their ´innovation´ to a jury of 3 members before online voters crowned Georgios Paliouras from Greece the winner (below).

The events of the evening were punctuated by music performances from the brass quintet and solo singer, Ana Plahutnik, accompanied by guitarist Natko Štiglić (below).

The emotional festivities of the 8 June gave way to the Annual Conference Day of panel discussions on the 9th, starting with words from the EMUNI President and a video message from Maria Cristina Russo, Director of Global Approach and International Cooperation, European Commission, DG R&I. Maurizio Fermeglia, Professor and former Rector of University of Trieste made a presentation setting the scene for the ensuing discussions. He presented the challenges facing universities of the 21st century and the dynamic changes in the job market, and how universities could overcome the challenges and adapt to these changes.

The discussions thereafter proved to be lively and insightful as panellists and audience members debated the issues presented by the following panels:

Above: Panel 1: Innovative Models for Sustainable Universities – Building Beyond the Curriculum, moderated by the Director of CoE-SUBE, Mounir Ghribi.

Above: Panel 2: Structural Changes and Reforms in Higher Education – Objectives, Measures and Methods, moderated by the Head of Academic Affairs at EMUNI, Jaka Vadnjal.

Above: anel 3: Evolution of the Classroom – From Chalk and Talk to the Learning Space of Tomorrow, moderated by EMUNI Academic Affairs Coordinator, Karen Gladović.

Mounir Ghribi and the EMUNI President then closed the Conference with recommendations and observations on the necessity to work together in the long-term to address the challenges faced by universities, how to keep university degrees relevant while incorporating AI where appropriate and finally, to innovate the university structure itself. Evolution rather than revolution is the key.

EMUNI wishes to thank all its distinguished guests and esteemed participants who helped make this event a huge success, and finally, also to the UfM, for their support in EMUNI´s mission to carry out its objectives.

View full gallery and drone footage of the event

Read the Annual Conference Report and Key Recommendations

Until we meet again in 2024!