EU universities coming together to improve well-being during COVID-19 – University of Birmingham

illustration of people playing instruments from their balconies during coronavirus pandemic

Experts from a group of top European universities are launching a Policy Commission that aims to improve the well-being of people across Europe and beyond living under the shadow of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

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Researchers from the European University of Well-being (EUniWell) will kick-start the 6-month commission with a live one and a half-hour webinar at 14.00 CEST on Wednesday 17 June, featuring experts from three partner institutions discussing ‘Well-being in a COVID World’. The event will be chaired by Stefano Manservisi, former Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development.

People across Europe and the globe are welcome to attend the panel discussion and Q&A – simply register at

The event will feature discussion of how EUniWell can help to boost people’s well-being from an expert panel featuring:

  • Christiane Woopen, Professor for Ethics and Theory of Medicine at the University of Cologne, in Germany.
  • Arnold Tukker, Professor of Industrial Ecology and Director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences, at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands.
  • Matthew Broome, Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health at the University of Birmingham, in the UK.
  • Judith Barth, EUniWell Chief Student Officer, and student at the University of Cologne.

After a brief introduction to EUniWell by Beatrix Busse, Vice-Rector for Teaching and Studies from the University of Cologne, Pro-Vice-Chancellor International Robin Mason from the University of Birmingham will introduce the EUniWell Policy Commission series. Following this, Stefano Manservisi will chair the panel discussion. Participants will have the opportunity to put questions to the panel towards the end of the event.

EUniWell unites seven top European universities to create research, teaching and policy development partnerships involving 244,000 students and 36,500 staff. Its focus is well-being, supporting individual, social and environmental well-being in a global setting.

Announcing the Policy Commission, leaders* of the Universities of Birmingham, Firenze, Köln, Leiden, Linnaeus, Nantes and Semmelweis commented: “The challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses give EUniWell’s mission – to understand, measure, rebalance and improve the well-being of individuals, communities, and society – new urgency.

“COVID-19 demands that we re-imagine well-being from different perspectives and find solutions to the challenges it presents to our globalised, connected world. Our new Policy Commission unites the strengths and expertise of EUniWell’s network of experts to help improve well-being for the people of Europe and their global neighbours.”

The EUniWell Policy Commission will bring together experts and interested parties to shape a multi-faceted approach and methodology to well-being in a COVID world. The Commission will scope the issue and produce recommendations for policy change – considering evidence from a range of organisations, experts and interests, as well as drawing on relevant research from within EUniWell.

EUniWell has identified four key areas for research and teaching, closely linked to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in which the partner universities have strong expertise:

  • Well-Being & Health (SDG 3, Good Health & Well-Being)
  • Individual & Social Well-Being (SDG 16, Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions)
  • Environment, Urbanity & Well-Being (SDG 11, Sustainable Cities & Communities)
  • Teacher Education (SDG 4, Quality Education)

The alliance will support learning at all ages – for university students, life-long learners and their teachers, fostering equality and diversity. Students are the heart of the collaboration and involved in all aspects of its work, including governance. Partner universities will train the next generation of Europeans, enabling scientific breakthroughs and successful knowledge transfer to benefit society.

*EUniWell leaders:
Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Birmingham, UK.
Professor Luigi Dei, Rector, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy.
Professor Axel Freimuth, Rector, Universität zu Köln, Germany.
Professor Carel Stolker, Rector Magnificus and President, Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands.
Professor Peter Aronsson, Vice-Chancellor, Linnaeus University, Sweden.
Professor Olivier Laboux, President, Université de Nantes, France.
Professor Béla Merkely, Rector, Semmelweis University, Hungary.

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