The Foundations for Futures Europe project funded by the Europe for Citizens Fund kicked off the Maynooth University leg of the partnership with a morning event full of surprises and unexpected live appearances. The morning started with a warm welcome from the new President of Maynooth University Prof Eeva Leinonen who was struck on her return to the Northern Hemisphere from her time in Australia by the colours of autumn as a reminder of things we so often take for granted. Similarly the patchwork of cultures, languages and experiences that we share by being part of Europe often go unnoticed and uncelebrated. This project is one way for us to pay attention to our neighbours and their experiences. The FFE is, as she said, 'Widening Participation on a grand scale' and she encouraged the delegates both the civil society actors and the academics from Sweden, Greece, Hungary and Serbia (in abstentia) along with the Irish contingent to help the university carry out it's mission to 'communicate complex ideas' and be responsive to the needs of the various communities we serve.
There were some wonderful introductions from each of the partners followed by powerful key note addresses by Paul Ginnell of the European Anti-Poverty Network (Ireland); Dr Gemma Irvine Vice President of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion MU; and emeritus Prof. John Sweeney, Dept. of Geography MU (videos of which will be available shortly). Due to technical difficulties Prof Sweeney, who was scheduled to participate on line, arrived in person to deliver a thought provoking address that pulled no punches in outlining the enormous task in tackling climate change that lies ahead and the need for us as a global community to think and act differently. Although the event was scaled back due to the recently tightened Covid 19 restrictions those in attendance from Higher Education Institutions, Civil Society Organisations, Community Partners, university students and second level students experienced very informative and at times sobering (yet still hopeful) presentations, on some of the main issues facing Europe and the globe, such as Climate Change, Gender and Equality, and Social Inclusion in the coming decades. There will be plenty of time for you to have your say so please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to add to our blog or visit the Foundations for Futures Europe website for more information.