SOCIN – International Interdisciplinary Conference on Social Innovations at MRU

Mykolas Romeris University has organised for the 9th edition, the SOCIN conference last October 2019. During two days, Vilnius became the international capital of Social Innovations. Pr. Inga Žalėnienė, rector of Mykolo Romerio Universitetas made the opening speech of the SOCIN 2019 conference and welcomed the InclusU members attending the event.

SOCIN 2019 aimed to discuss theoretical concepts and practical implications of social innovations to individual and societal well-being. Social innovations are processes where social, public policy and economics are developed by the creation of new ideas, products, services, business and public governance models.

The concept of social innovations involves several areas of knowledge from justice, security and human rights to social technologies, sustainable development, quality of life and values. This multidisciplinary approach allows to integrate social, economic and environmental aspects and create common understanding for different disciplines which is fundamental in understanding the problems that affect our post-modern society in a local, regional and global contexts, facilitating the development of ideas and solutions.

In 2019, it was focused on Inclusiveness and Civic Mindedness, proposing various conference streams: Justice and Human Rights, Security, Sports for the Change and Social Inclusion, Young Researchers’ Forum, Quality of Life, The Challenge Based University: Cross-Border and Transnational Shared Knowledge / Learning for Change, European Research in Open Society and Sustainable Development.

This meeting was therefore the opportunity for the InclusU partners to get together and discuss the commitment of the alliance for Social Innovations. These are crucial to build a more inclusive society, and Universities are definitely key actors in this process. They constitute the interface between scientific knowledge and the socioeconomic and cultural environment, they prepare graduates to be creative social innovators, as well as constructive and critical citizens.

Pr. Rui Viera de Castro, rector of the University of Minho delivered a key note address on: “The Road to Inclusiveness: challenges of HE”. He stressed the model of the open institution against the one of the Ivory Tower, and recalled the social dimension, central to the European Higher Education area, mentioning it cannot only be rhetorical. He presented UMinho commitment and policies to promote Inclusiveness, and stated the will of the InclusU members to co-develop innovative practices in this domain within the alliance.

Cecilia Christersson, vice-rector responsible for Global Engagement and Challenge-based Learning at Malmö University explained the importance of the knowledge-based university for Social Innovations. In order to face challenges such as migration, demography, artificial intelligence and digitalization, GIG economy or populism, we need to put the students at the center, she reminded. Challenge-based teaching and learning, and research are at the heart of the InclusU project.

About the host university: Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) is an international university located in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania. Modern, creative and entrepreneurial academic community has raised MRU to the leading university in social sciences and interdisciplinary research in Lithuania. MRU cooperates closely with over 300 universities, public and private institutions, takes part in academic, professional and inter-sectorial networks.