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Yesterday, the University of Ljubljana (UL) celebrated EUTOPIA day for the first time with a series of events on climate challenges and finding solutions for a sustainable future. Experts and students experts discussed and presented how UL, researchers and researchers are tackling and finding solutions to climate challenges at the European Union House in Ljubljana. The Alliance Day was held simultaneously at all ten partner universities and celebrated the efforts to create a common higher education space that fosters the development of education, research and innovation both locally and globally.

Prof. dr. Nataša Poklar Ulrih, Institutional Coordinator of the EUTOPIA Alliance and leader of the EUTOPIA MORE project, started by stressing the importance of innovative projects, inter-university teaching practices and research findings in the field of climate change. She said that only through networking can we address climate challenges in the higher education environment. Dr. Jerneja Jug Jerše, Head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia, described international networking within European universities as the future of European higher education. "We need a knowledge-based, multidisciplinary approach that involves young people, because they are the ones who will live in a world of profound and global change," she said. If we want to become the first climate-smart international economy by 2050, we can only do so through networking and collaboration between students, female students and professors.

Prof. Gregor Majdič, Rector of UL, highlighted the efforts to promote closer cooperation between universities and disciplines in order to reflect on how to create a sustainable future for ourselves and the generations after us. "We will not destroy the planet. The planet will remain, nature will recover. We will destroy living conditions", he said, and continued: "EUTOPIA Day is a good opportunity to show that we are having this conversation". EUTOPIA Secretary General dr. Mattia Belotti reminded of the importance of networking and highlighted the social responsibility of talking about issues such as climate challenges. The role and purpose of the Alliance embodies opening the door to change – "Let the EUTOPIA Day be a reminder to all our connected communities and partner universities of social responsibility and the role of education in bringing about societal change that strives for sustainability," he said. As one of the co-founders of the Alliance and its first President, former Rector of UL, Dr. Igor Papič, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, welcomed the integrated discussions on climate change and underlined their power to find answers to complex societal issues.

At a round table entitled "The role of the University of Ljubljana in shaping climate solutions for the future", experts highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary integration between natural sciences and engineering and social sciences and humanities research. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Maja Klun, UL Vice-Rector for Knowledge Transfer, Digitisation and Sustainable Development. Participants included Prof. Dr. Andrej Gubina from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of UL and representative of the EUTOPIA Sustainability Group, Doc. Dr. Tjaša Pogačar from the Faculty of Biotechnics of UL Dr. Matjaž Ličer from the Environment Agency of the Republic of Slovenia and the National Institute of Biology, and Pia Zupančič, a student at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of UL and an activist of the Youth Movement for Climate Justice. In their view, a prerequisite for addressing climate change is systemic regulation of the field.

EUTOPIA universities carry out a wide range of research, teaching and student activities that address societal issues and, above all, find solutions to them. Among the most comprehensive are the associated learning communities. These take many different forms - as courses, summer schools or extra-curricular activities. Their distinctive feature is the collaborative role played by professors, male and female students, and students from several universities of the Union.

The ECOTOPIA Learning Community is led by Prof. Dr. Tjaša Redek from the Faculty of Economics at UL. The aim of the ECOTOPIA Learning Community is to develop short programmes and promote research in the field of sustainable development, focusing on the role of consumers in protecting the environment, the role of companies in the transition to environmentally friendly business models and green innovation.

The Global Connections – A Transdisciplinary Approach Learning Community is led by Prof. Dr. Andreja Žgajnar Gotvajn, Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, UL. Over the past three years, together with three other universities of the EUTOPIA Alliance, they have already held several events on the topic of environment and migration, involving more than 300 students of different levels and disciplines.

The Veganism in Conflict with Animal Protein Production Learning Community was presented by Prof. Dr. Modest Vengušt, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UL. The members of the learning community are entering a polarised environment, which is against or in favour of the use of animal proteins, rarely undefined. This is not just a question of meal composition, but of seeking changes in communication between stakeholders in order to improve the welfare of people, animals and the cultural landscape;

UL students together with their mentors presented creative and innovative activities in the field of climate challenges, which are carried out outside the framework of the study process and promote not only the development of new forms of pedagogical cooperation, but also lead to concrete proposals for solutions at the local, regional and global level.