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Coimbra Group Annual Conference 2018: Looking to the future, learning from the past

29 June 2018

by Ricardo Rivero
Rector University of Salamanca, Honorary President of the Rectors’ Advisory Group

The University of Salamanca proudly hosted this year’s Annual Conference and General Assembly at the Colegio Fonseca. It has been a pleasure to share with you three fruitful and unforgettable days. The contribution of the Executive Board, the organizers on behalf of the University of Salamanca and the Rectors’ Advisory Group as well as the delegates from 39 universities has been crucial for the excellent results achieved.

The Coimbra Group Public Conference of this year dealt with key topics related to higher education and sustainability in the future, learning from the past. The two main key note speakers delighted us with subjects such as the interaction between the traditional Humanities and gender and postcolonial studies and the role of universities in building and consolidating Europe.

This Annual Conference has been included as one of central acts of our 800th anniversary. This date coincides with another important event for the academic world: the thirtieth anniversary of the Magna Charta Universitatum 2018, which will also be celebrated in Salamanca.

Since it was founded in 1218, the University of Salamanca has been committed to carrying knowledge beyond the boundaries of the known world. True to this spirit of openness towards society in its various forms, we believe that the partnership of the Magna Charta reflects the spirit of openness and the best way of spreading that which makes humans thinking beings. Therefore, we would like to share with you, as our closest university partners in Europe, this celebration: it is not merely a symbolic event, but the reflection of an advanced society that defends common values that bind us together at all levels.

In this respect, together with you, we would also like to turn 2018 into the year we started to change our societal model in order to defend those common values and achieve a more sustainable and just world. We have tackled the issue of contributing to a better world by promoting the Salamanca Declaration, a declaration on disseminating and activating the United Nations Agenda 2030 (twenty thirty) on the Sustainable Development Goals. Academia, that is, the whole scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, should play a vital role in disseminating and activating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. Each of our venerable universities have the capacity to take numerous transformative actions and to advance towards these Goals and Targets. We should promote an active collaboration between citizens, public administrations, companies and our universities and research centres in order to progress towards the fulfilment of Agenda 2030.

In our sphere of actions, we should commit ourselves to promoting the transformations required for progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We should harness our collective strength to set in motion specific activities in the areas of awareness-raising, communication, organisation and activation of these goals. We should take advantage of our common experiences and projects in this regard and share them with others. In this sense, the proposal of the University of Salamanca is to enlarge our universities’ field of action to the European Iberoamerican space of higher education.