19.10.2023 University of Marburg and University of Giessen Delegation visits the University of West Bohemia

Mgr. Šárka Stará
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From October 12th – 13th a delegation led by Prof. Thomas Nauss, rector of the University of Marburg, visited the University of West Bohemia (UWB), Pilsen to explore opportunities for cooperation in various academic and research areas as part of the EUPeace Alliance.

The delegation was made up of Prof. Bernhard Freisleben (Dean of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science) Prof. Christin Seifert (Department of Mathematics and Computer Science),  Prof. Peter Bell (Department of German Studies and Art) from the University of Marburg and Prof. Peter Haslinger (University of Giessen and Director of the Herder Institute).

Miroslav Lávička, rector of UWB, welcomed the delegation and a presentation of UWB was given. As part of an introductory presentation session, Prof. Nauss presented the University of Marburg, while Prof. Haslinger presented the University of Giessen and the Herder Institute.

The delegation had the opportunity to learn about UWB’s research activities, faculties and study programs on offer. During a visit to the Faculty of Applied Sciences and the New Technologies for the Information Society Centre (NTIS), the delegation was shown some of the outstanding research activities taking place at UWB, such as the application of development of AI based speech recognition and other natural language processing (NLP) technologies to oral history archives. This new machine learning technology, called “Semantic Search – Asking Questions”, enables users to easily access and search oral history archives, and has been applied to Holocaust testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive.

A tour of the Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art, named after the famous graphic designer Ladislav Sutnar who was born in Pilsen, offered insight into how an innovative space for learning and research can be created on a university campus.

A networking session with researchers from different faculties at UWB provided a chance to explore common research projects and subjects in the fields of AI & Digital Solutions, Digital Humanities, Environmental Sciences, Economics and Research Data Management. Cooperation between the Marburg Center for Digital Culture and Infrastructure (MCDCI) at the University of Marburg and the Computing Culture & Society Lab (CCS-Lab), a workshop in Pilsen in April 2024 organized by the Collaborative Research Centre "Dynamics of Security. Types of Securitization from a Historical Perspective", and joint-work in the field of Research Data Management are just a few examples of collaborative work that was discussed. 

In his closing words, UWB’s rector Miroslav Lávička thanked the delegation for their visit as well as the very productive and constructive discussions.

In his closing presentation, Prof. Nauss drew on the productive groundwork laid over the past two days and discussed the challenges our world is currently facing, especially in the face of a changing digital reality. Considering the role that universities will play, he reminded the audience “our researchers are exploring the issues of today to map our path to the future and our students will make a difference tomorrow and shape their living environment.” The delegation’s visit was a first step in establishing EUPeace’s role in this and exploring “How [do] our universities build a house as a nucleus for our EUPeace network in the ‘digital’ society?”

One way, according to Prof Nauss, is to explore common subjects and create concrete steps to increase collaboration, joint projects and exchange. He suggested actions such as student mobility, joint study programs, cooperative IT services in the field of research data management, and researcher networking opportunities. Most prominently, Prof Nauss called for the founding of a EUPeace Media lab as a goal of the alliance, as an “An interdisciplinary creative space to accelerate inclusive solutions for the digital society and positively shape the world of tomorrow.”

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