European – what else?

Impact No. 32 - March 2016

Portrait Elena Wilhelm
Elena Wilhelm, Head of Higher Education Development ZHAW

Switzerland belongs to Europe historically, culturally and economically. It is a part of an enlightened Europe, a Europe of democracy, human rights and solidarity, a Europe with a welfare state system. The history and institutions of Switzerland are inconceivable without Europe, and the future of our country is dependent upon Europe. Existential challenges affect Switzerland and Europe to the same extent and cannot be solved by either of them going it alone. We need supranational solutions to respond to questions regarding the employment market and migration in Europe, to solve problems regarding care systems in the health and social sectors, and to deal with issues regarding the ageing society, resources and mobility, or the extremely delicate question of social integration.

Cultural pessimists predict the emergence of the new Middle Ages, in which Europe will be shaped by religious and patriarchal values. They say that modern Europe will disappear under this burden and that science will become increasingly irrelevant. Is Europe really about to fail? No. Europe will not fail. But Europe needs a second revival of the Enlightenment, in which science, research, education and again, education, play a major role.

European universities as system of reference

European universities are the most important system of reference for the ZHAW. Through various initiatives, they are advancing knowledge of complex questions regarding our world. This is why it is only logical that we pursue “European” as one of our three strategic goals.

We are involved in the further development of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), we are taking part in European education and research initiatives, and we contribute to the development of the Europe that we all want: an enlightened Europe of freedom and human rights. A Europe that questions, doubts and seeks. Through our European integration, we also strengthen our worldwide networks and international significance, and we see ourselves as part of a global community.

Author: Elena Wilhelm, Head of Higher Education Development ZHAW