Signing the Magna Charta Universitatum

Posted by 8 de October de 2015
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Joan Masnou, Jordi Montaña, Ricard Torrents and Núria Garcia

On 17 and 18 September, I was in Bologna together with the first rector of UVic-UCC, Ricard Torrents; the Vice-Rector for Institutional Relations, Joan Masnou, and Núria Garcia, a student of the Faculty of Education, Translation and Humanities, in order to sign the Magna Charta Universitatum. The University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, only 18 years after its foundation, is now one of the 800 signatories worldwide. The ceremony took place at the University of Bologna during the annual conference of the Magna Charta Observatory.

With its signature UVic-UCC has joined the universities in Europe and around the world that have thus pledged their commitment to cultural development, science and technology; to the spread of knowledge among the young people; to continuing education to enhance the cultural and economic future of society; and to respect for a sustainable environment and lifestyle.

Signing the Magna Charta Universitatum implies an institutional commitment to safeguarding the fundamental principles of the university, among which are university autonomy, the link between teaching and research, and freedom of research, education and training. Furthermore, as a custodian of the European humanist tradition, the university undertakes to strive for universal knowledge through mutual understanding and interaction between cultures. UVic-UCC is committed to developing the tools needed to enact these principles.

The Magna Charta Universitatum dates back to 18 September 1988, when in the presence of many political leaders and public figures 388 rectors from around the world signed the original Magna Charta Universitatum. Since then, the Magna Charta Universitatum has become a beacon for the principles and values of universities around the world and maintains its significance for the present-day mission of universities worldwide.

The Magna Charta Observatory, a non-profit organisation founded by the University of Bologna and the European University Association, organises a yearly international conference to discuss new challenges and defend basic university values. The theme of this year’s conference was the challenges confronting students in conflict zones around the world and the response of universities to preserve their values in a changing global context.

For a young university like our own, it is important to join this group of universities formally committed to the advancement of knowledge and defence of the progressive humanist tradition of university autonomy. It is a great milestone and we are justly proud of it. By signing this document, we become part of the university tradition started in the year 1158, when Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor, promulgated the Constitutio Habita, determining that each school would become a society of members (students), led by a teacher (dominus), who would be paid by student fees. The Empire protected students travelling to study from interference by any political authority. It was a seminal moment in the history of European universities. Universities became places where research could develop freely, without hindrance from other powers. Long may it remain so.

An International Workshop on Higher Education (IWHE) in which all took part

Posted by 11 de June de 2015
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A moment of the opening of the 5th International Workshop on Higher Education with Colin Fudge, chairman of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Jordi Montaña, rector, and Enric Banda, director of the Department of Science and Environment Projects “la Caixa”.

For the fifth consecutive year our IWHE, sponsored by “la Caixa” Social Welfare Foundation, brought together academics and researchers from around the world to work with our researchers, doctoral students, teachers and service staff, and leaders of regional public and private sector organisations, in an international context. In 2015 we created a large international research gathering involving hundreds of people.

I would say that the IWHE is one of the most representative activities of our UVic-UCC strategy:

  1. It is an international activity. Ever since the first IWHE, teachers and researchers from prestigious academic institutions in many countries have taken part. In 2015, for example, we welcomed visitors from Harvard and RMIT.
  2. It is an activity involving all UVic-UCC specialist areas of knowledge: education, translation and the humanities; health sciences and welfare; science and technology; social sciences; business and communication studies.
  3. It is a research activity. In our conferences, workshops and posters we show what we are doing at UVic-UCC.
  4. It is an activity that emphasises our research priorities and the aspects that contribute to distinguishing us from other universities: media and society; mechatronics and robotics; cultural heritage and place; economics, entrepreneurship and social innovation; sport and sports management; health promotion, integrated care and social inclusion; the food industry; energy, diversity and the environment; schools and their context; translational bioinformatics; gender studies; etc.
  5. It is an activity that is closely connected to our local and regional context, involving academics and professionals in the public and private sectors from Barcelona, its metropolitan area and throughout Catalonia.
  6. It is an activity that brings together public and private sectors, involving enterprises, other organisations and universities.
  7. It is an activity for our city campus. This year IWHE visibility around the city of Vic was enhanced by a street poster exhibition of research carried out at UVic-UCC.
  8. It is an activity that resonates on social networks, indicating the importance of the digital world for our university.
  9. It is an activity that many people in the University contribute to and it is their hard work that makes it possible to organise the IWHE.
  10. It is an activity that contributes to our profile as a university with a regional, national and international impact.

To all those who made this great event possible, thank-you! You really are wonderful!

UVic-UCC, a national university with regional impact and international visibility

Posted by 20 de May de 2015

Aeria-VicThe University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia arose from the federation of the University of Vic and the Bages University Foundation in January 2014, combining two campuses, one in Vic and the other in Manresa. In other words, UVic-UCC is a regional initiative, set up to serve the region.

But what is this region like? Catalonia has a large capital city, Barcelona, which counts itself among the great cities of the world in all fields. Among these are its universities, which attract students, teachers and researchers from around the world.

Catalonia also has a network of smaller cities that act as hubs for essential services in today’s world, and which now aspire to be fully integrated into the knowledge society, for which they need strong local university services.

This is what UVic-UCC offers: a networked university for a network of cities. This network of cities constitutes what we call the Catalan Ciutat Territorial (regional city), which, excluding the metropolitan area of Barcelona, has about three million inhabitants. These people are served by three regional universities in the provincial capitals: the Rovira i Virgili University serving Tarragona and Reus, and the universities of Girona and Lleida. Then there is the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, based in Vic and Manresa, serving the rest of the region and about one million inhabitants.

Our region is therefore one of the defining characteristics of UVic-UCC, as reflected in the composition of the Board of Trustees of the Balmes University Foundation, with representatives from eleven regional towns and municipalities.

Another distinctive feature of UVic-UCC is the triple helix comprising the university, regional government and the business sector. These three components are all represented on our Board of Trustees, with members from the government of the Generalitat of Catalonia and local authorities, from regional enterprises and organisations, and from the university itself. The most visible sign of this partnership is the Creacció entrepreneurship unit and business incubator.

The potential for innovation and economic development of cities in the knowledge society lies in the appropriate combination of resources, intelligence and productivity from university, business and government agencies to achieve optimal knowledge creation and communication, a suitable structure for knowledge transfer, and the ability to apply it in social, business and industrial contexts. This is where UVic-UCC can develop its full potential in the service of the Catalan Ciutat Territorial (regional city).

A distinguishing feature of UVic-UCC is its involvement in local projects that enhance regional development, bringing services up to the level of the metropolitan area and contributing to a general project that during the Noucentisme 19th century period of cultural revival in Catalonia was referred to as the “Catalunya Ciutat”, the Catalan city. Now, one hundred years later, we can really make it happen.

In 1914, Enric Prat de la Riba, President of the Mancomunitat (Commonwealth of Catalonia), proposed that every village should have roads, a school, a library and a telephone service. A century later, we are proposing that all the towns and municipalities of Catalonia should have access to training, research, knowledge transfer, innovation, entrepreneurship and a well-preserved and protected natural environment, so that our level of services and quality of life reaches the level of the country as a whole, and our industries, enterprises and organisations can compete with the rest of the world, with similar opportunities for success.

We might say that Catalonia has two large urban constructs: Barcelona, the global metropolis, and the Ciutat Territorial (regional city), comprising all its other cities, towns and villages, well connected, endowed with industries, services, civic and political organisations, together contributing to growth and networking, like a nervous system running through the whole country.

The function of the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia is to make possible regional development in the modern sense of the term, by providing this network through towns and country, with resources for training, research, innovation, the communication of knowledge in society, and good connections with the rest of the world.

Design thinking and the creative process

Posted by 23 de March de 2013

DSC_5910Every designer adopts a unique approach when creating and developing projects. This process tends to be closely intertwined with the designer’s previous professional career, studies, background, experience and knowledge about the target industry, as well as the nature of the project and the product briefing.

This is why industrial designers approach projects in a different manner than engineers and architects. Graduates of traditional design schools are strong creative and artistic thinkers, whereas engineers tend to be more rational and architects occupy a middle ground. In general, all three are highly skilled at graphic expression, artistic drawing, rendering and technical drawing as well as developing three-dimensional mock-ups and prototypes to help shape their ideas. Digitalization has simplified this process, making it easier to create and preview highly detailed 3-D images. Nevertheless, many people still create mock-ups (and even full-sized models). In the automotive industry, expensive full-size clay models are common, as they help to visualise the final product. These mock-ups are built by specialized technicians trained expressly for this purpose.

Work tends to be done in stages, and trial and error is an integral part of the process. Designers begin by drafting different ideas and later add increasing complexity and detail. The process differs dramatically depending on its purpose: whether it aims to solve a specific problem or to provide new ideas and concepts. At some point during the process, the product concept – how to translate the idea into a concept and clearly define it to make it significantly easier to arrive at the final design definition – is discussed in detail. In any case, the process entails gradually reducing possibilities until only one or two final solutions remain. These will go on to become finely detailed technical blueprints. In a typical sequence, rough drafts become preliminary designs of an idea; these are then developed into the final project.

Obviously, extensive and detailed initial briefings reduce the range of options available. However, this does not eliminate creativity or make it easier to find creative solutions.

Until just a few years ago, this process was highly personal and unique to each designer; indeed, with experience, designers gradually developed their own creative processes. Some, such as Ron Arad, Philippe Starck and Javier Mariscal, impregnated their designs with their own style; others adapted to the style of the company commissioning their work. This should be taken into account when choosing a designer.

In recent years, particular attention has been paid to imbuing the creative process with a stronger methodology. This has given rise to numerous models and is generically referred to as “Design Thinking”. Continue reading