About Cross-Border Challenges
Cross-border regions are characterized by a dense network of connections between at least two different ecosystems. Neither side of the border can function properly without the other. While these cross-border regions account for 40% of EU territory, 30% of its population, and 30% of the European GDP, they face a multitude of challenges for actors in (higher) education, the business sector, and society. These challenges coincide closely with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined in the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations. These issues are at the heart of the European Union’s cohesion policy and are a condition for successful regional integration. Based on our shared experiences in facing these challenges, four focus areas guide the activities of the European Cross-Border University. They can only be tackled through inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation with contributions from all disciplines (e.g. including Social Sciences, Engineering, Economics, Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Sciences) crossing disciplinary borders in the process.
Across Seeks to Tackle Four Focus Areas of Cross-Border Challenges
Education in Cross-Border Contexts
Higher education institutions across borders create programs and train students for their cross-border regions from different perspectives rooted in different higher education systems, cultures, and languages thereby reinforcing the territorial barriers. Through this, cooperation between them feels international although they are–as neighbors–facing the same issues in their shared cross-border regions.
To become successful agents of change across borders, universities, and—through their programs—students need to be oriented globally and locally at the same time.
Culture, Identity, Heritage
Cultural factors express themselves in many ways and impact all levels of social and economic interaction. As such, cultural differences may be reinforced through our regional heritage, out of which cultural identities emerged, and are closely connected to language barriers. At the same time, cross-border regions may share a joint identity through a common history but remain separated. Overcoming cultural differences or separation in cross-border regions is a key factor for successful cooperation for positive change. At the same time, overcoming cultural differences bears the risk of disregarding cultural identities and losing the connection to our origins in cross-border regions.
To become successful agents of change across borders, we need to become more diverse ourselves by developing and teaching a mutual understanding of our regional identities.
Economic and Social Development
The combined effect of historical challenges, cultural differences, different economic factors, and different policies let borders act as moderators of economic and social development between countries. At the same time, they are closely linked as more uneven distributions of production factors promote more uneven flows of workforce.
Within borders, cross-border regions have been linked to lower economic performance compared to the national centres, higher unemployment, and lower access to universities.
To become successful agents of change across borders, cross-border regions need not act merely within their national contexts, but as one. For this, our students need to develop transferable transversal and entrepreneurial skills with the support of a deep understanding of cross-border regions.
Management of Natural Resources
From geographical, economic, and political factors across borders, different potentials and policies of natural resource (non-)exploitation arise. Their respective management the consequences of mismanagement of natural resources do not respect borders.
To become successful agents of change across borders, we need to develop a deep understanding of the potential and consequences of natural resource exploitation in our cross-border regions and jointly develop the technologies and expertise for their sustainable management.