Transnational education as the key for global cooperation

Marco del Panta
Secretary General, the European University Institute

The European University Institute is vital for the European Union to create a critical and global education. What is the University's mission in terms of SDG4: Quality Education?

The Institute was founded by the member states of the European communities in the 70s. The idea was to create something resembling an international European University because the community did not have the power that there is today. The University started as a post-graduate institution, including a PhD program. Over the years, almost all of the countries in the E.U. became a member state of the Institute, and today, 23/27 countries in the E.U. are partners of the University. Over the years, we have expanded to other academic areas by providing master programs and a research centre called the Robert Schumann Center focused on the global market and transnational governance. We also offer fellowship programs between our institution and our African partners. We believe that international education is key global cooperation.

Training future policymakers is at the top of the European University Institute agenda. Could you elaborate on the impact of the University's projects on this domain?

The idea is to train our students in academics and policy making. The long-term objective is to develop human capital and knowledge in Europe and worldwide. Everything we do has a transnational character, and we don't perform studies limited to one country. We don't study the history of Germany, but we study the history of Germany concerning other nations. We believe a global approach is the right strategy to prepare our students due to the constant interaction between different countries. Our school of Transnational Governance includes executive education, a masters program, a fellowship program and policy dialogues with the purpose of training our future leaders beyond one state.

The University has many partnerships worldwide, including in Africa and the Middle East. What do these partnerships strive for?

We were born as a European institution, but we still follow the example of the E.U., where there is a current role in world affairs. In our school of transnational governance, we have a fellowship programme called The Young African Leader Programme, which deals closely with policymaking. We have an essential programme for the Middle East and the Mediterranean, which also involves Lebanon, and we are planning to relaunch it next month. We're trying to cover as much as we can in world affairs. Our fellowship program is dedicated to African fellows and it takes place in Florence. There's a good chance that we will develop these initiatives towards other continents, including the Middle East region.

What do you think is needed to prepare the current students to develop a global mindset, whereby collaboration between the MENA region and Europe is key to moving forward?

We need to develop a new mindset of collaboration between Europe and other world regions. If you bring students to Europe, they understand the European reality; the same works the other way around. We also have to get Europeans into other continents for them to experience different cultures and life mindsets. This is a very good way to overcome some lack of knowledge. Cultural exchanges, contacts, and conferences contribute to further acceptance and understanding. Coming from the Ministry  of Foreign Affairs in Italy, these are the efforts we try to achieve but from another angle. Here at the European University Institute, we do it from an educational point of view, which is much needed today if we analyse the current global arena.