The VUB opened its new academic year at the European Parliament. VUB rector spoke before 920 listeners on "Europe, EUTOPIA, and the need for a new Renaissance

Jan Danckaert noted that we live in turbulent times. "We see polarisation and populist forces emerging everywhere. Forces that question democracy, dismiss the emancipation of the individual and ridicule science and scientists. Forces that subordinate universal human rights to their own tribal group goals."

He therefore calls for a new renaissance with three major pillars: curiosity, openness and connectedness. These are the values that the European University Network EUTOPIA also stands for. The VUB is one of the founding universities.

"It is precisely by building new academic networks and rethinking the role of universities that we can arrive at a new Renaissance. We need a renewed curiosity and ways to challenge and transcend boundaries. We must make more efforts to understand and learn from other cultures without prejudice."

The rector came up with two examples on how EUTOPIA can play a role in the new Renaissance: multilingualism and science diplomacy. "It is through multilingualism, and through the connected learning communities of EUTOPIA, that we will be able to learn from others at a deeper level. With a multilingual approach, we can unlock new ideas, new concepts and new visions."

Science diplomacy is the use of scientific collaborations among nations to address common problems and to build constructive international partnerships, is the definition you can find in Wikipedia. Jan Danckaert announced that EUTOPIA has work package around Science Diplomacy. "We will not only give science diplomacy a firm academic grounding, but also make sure that each and every scientist in our alliance can act on a daily basis as a diplomat for science, an ambassador."

What are the rectors are planning with the European University Network EUTOPIA.